The electric Brompton is being designed, and it will benefit from the experience of the engineers of the Williams Formula 1 Team.
Why we want an electric Brompton
The Brompton is among the most famous and widespread folding bikes for urban use. It doesn’t really come cheap (more than 1000€ for the non electric version), but bromptonists praise its build quality and great user experience, mainly thanks to the ingenious folding system which makes it the ideal bike to take on buses or metros; the bike is also pleasant to ride, notwithstanding the small 16″ wheels. The price is high also because Brompton bikes are built in London, where production costs are surely higher than in other parts of the world. The bike can also be personalized with a long list of build options and accessories.
In short, we are talking about a high-quality folding bike. The only problem? There is no official electric Brompton ebike. Some sellers offer the possibility to mount an ebike conversion kit on a Brompton, but it’s not an ideal solution. Because ebikes are more and more widespread, there is a lot of curiosity about an eventual electric Brompton.
It’s not easy
And Brompton is working on it. Following its tradition, everything is being carefully studied, and this is why it is taking a long time to come to the market with a Brompton ebike. The engineering challenge of adding battery, motor and other components on a very peculiarly-shaped bicycle, keeping the excellent foldability of the classic Brompton, will not be easy to win. In order to do so, Brompton has decided to recruit the help of Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Formula One Williams Group.
According to a Brompton press release, Brompton is constantly looking for ways to improve urban transport. Brompton sees a great potential in ebikes. The bike will have to be built to the highest engineering standards, and be able to withstand the challenges posed by an urban environment.
What will the electric Brompton be like? Hard to say. We think that a Brompton ebike should first of all aim to keep the lightness and ease of foldability of the original, as much as possible. A Brompton bike is used mainly in the city, for a few miles, maybe carrying it on a bus or on a train: better therefore to have a battery which is as light as possible, even if this means a range of just a few dozen kms. For instance, a 5 Ah battery (@36V that means 180Wh) should be enough, would be quite light and small, and could be totally integrated within the frame, protected from theft and rain. It is likely that they’ll go for a hub motor: putting the motor on the front hub would probably be the easiest option (especially if the battery is in the main tube of the frame); however, a rear hub motor would probably be better when thinking about the distribution of weight. It should be possible to go without a handlebar controller, which could get in the way when folding the electric Brompton; a couple of buttons somewhere on the frame would be enough.
In sum, an electric Brompton ebike should be as simple as possible, in order not to interfere with a design that is already almost perfect.
When will we get it?
What about timing? A recent post on the Brompton website indicates Summer 2017 as a likely time for the availability of the ebike. Keep returning to this page for more information as soon as we have it.
What about the price?
There is no official information yet, but we would be very surprised if the electric Brompton cost less than 2200€.