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Regular Brompton vs Brompton Electric Bike

Now that Brompton Electric bikes have arrived in Australia, the choice between a regular (analogue, non-assist) Brompton and an electric-assist Brompton is more than just theoretical.

Spot the difference

There are more similarities than differences between our regular and Electric Bromptons. Those differences aren’t always immediately apparent, which is why we’ve prepared this diagram highlighting the visual differences between a Brompton Electric and a regular Brompton bike.

In addition to the external differences highlighted above, there are structural differences in the Brompton Electric frame that are more subtle – some are even hidden – that even an experienced eye might easily overlook at a casual glance. These include a more robust front fork, internal buttressing in the frame and holes for the bottom bracket plate for the torque sensing bottom bracket.

Why not just add a motor to the front wheel of a regular Brompton?

Regular Bromptons are only designed to be pushed from the rear, not pulled from the front.

The Brompton Electric bike has undergone rigorous testing, replicating real world conditions, to ensure the design is both safe and reliable over many years of use. This is a standard, but vital, step in the development phase of every new component and accessory in both the regular and Electric Brompton range.

Which should I choose?

Regardless of whether you’ve already decided on a regular or electric Brompton, or whether you’re still unsure, your first step is to determine which model will suit your needs best. There are several ways to go about this:

Your first step is to determine which model will suit your needs best – whether you know whether you want regular, Electric or if you’re still undecided on that front. There are several ways to go about this:

  • visit our store for a test ride – we have dedicated regular and electric Brompton demo bikes so you can test all the handlebar heights and gearing options available
  • get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable staff   
  • read our previous blog Which Brompton is Right For Me? 

Regular Bromptons and Brompton Electrics are described by the same models codes (eg S2E, M3L, H6R). If you need a super brief refresher, the three parts of the model code refer to: 1) Handlebar stem height; 2) number of gears; 3) mudguards: no/yes/yes with rack. If that was too brief, have a read of Everything you need to know about the Brompton model codes.

Bear in mind that Brompton Electrics are only available in either Medium or High handlebar options, and with either 2 or 6 gears.

Why isn’t the Brompton Electric available as an S-type?

The hard plastic handle on both the Essential Bag (that comes with the bike) and the City Bag (optional larger front bag) would interfere with the cabling on a Brompton with a Short handlebar stem, and thus impede the bike’s steering.

Since the release for the bag is integrated with the handle, the Brompton Electric is only available in the two taller handlebar options.

Once you know which model you’re looking for, if you’re still undecided between a regular or Electric Brompton, here are ten points that may help you decide between the two:

  • Weight – with some electric assist, you’re unlikely to notice the extra weight while you’re riding a Brompton Electric. Even a heavily-loaded regular Brompton handles superbly thanks to the design of the luggage system. If you need to carry your bike up flights of stairs that’s mostly when the bike’s weight becomes more of a consideration. An M6L Brompton Electric weighs approx 15kg (without battery). A regular M6L Brompton weighs approx 12kg. A regular superlight (steel and titanium frame) M6L-X weighs approx 11kg. 
  • Commuting – if your aim is to get to work (or anywhere, really) without breaking a sweat, then having the electric assistance will make life a breeze, particularly in summer. 
  • Range – 30-70km, depending on a number of factors. Recharging your battery is as simple as taking your Essential or City bag (with the battery still in place) to the nearest power point, and plugging in with either the standard charger that comes with the bike, or the optional fast charger. A meeting (or lunchtime) later and your battery is topped up again!
  • Fitness – riding an ebike is not a sign of laziness. Multiple studies (mainly in Europe where sales of ebikes have really taken off) have shown that people ride longer and further on average when riding ebikes than people who ride conventional bikes. 
  • Socialising – riding a bike is a social activity. Constantly being the person trailing behind the group, even if it’s only a group of two, is not social. Being able to talk to the person/people you’re riding with, because you can keep up and still have enough breath to talk, is wonderful!
  • Luggage – there is a wide and wonderful range of luggage options available for regular Bromptons, but presently there are only two that are compatible with the Brompton Electric – the Essential Bag (1.5L) that comes with the bike, and the optional City Bag (20L).
  • Hills – will it get me up that hill? We can confidently say a Brompton Electric will; tried, tested and passed with flying colours around San Francisco! Regular Bromptons are pretty good for climbing hills too, but which model will work best for you depends on a few factors – YOU being the biggest! Our staff have tackled some big climbs on their Bromptons. Let us know if hills are a particular concern for you.
  • Travel – being so compact, Bromptons fit so neatly into our lives and we want to go exploring with them – everywhere! You can fit them in the back of the car, on the train, on a bus/coach… but when it comes to air travel, if you have a Brompton Electric, you are going to have to leave that (very helpful) battery behind. Lithium batteries used to power the vast majority of electric bike brands on the market are too large (i.e. too dangerous) to take aboard a commercial flight as either carry-on or check in. 
  • Colours – the three colour ways available in the Electric range are Black, Turkish Green and the premium Bolt Blue Lacquer. All of these have a gloss finish, Gloss Black frame extremities and black components. The standard Brompton range has a choice of six satin finish colours (plus bicolour frame options) and a premium Black Lacquer finish. All standard Bromptons have silver/chrome components. 
  • Price – Brompton Electrics cost about twice the price of a standard Brompton, so price is undoubtedly a consideration for many customers. A lot of the price difference can be directly contributed to the large lithium battery that powers the bike. If a Brompton Electric is currently out of your price range but you’re still looking for a high quality, compact folding bike, please talk to our staff about gearing options on a regular Brompton that will best suit your needs.

Still unsure which way to go? Drop us a line (phone, email, visit us) and have a chat. We’re always happy to help.

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