E-folding bike test: The Brompton Electric works so ingeniously

The Brompton Electric did everything right in the test: It is light, well thought-out, practical and works brilliantly. But there is one big catch.

When it comes to electric mobility for the last email that also fits in the trunk, folding e-bikes are hard to beat. They are even better than e-scooters, like our comparison: e-folding bike or e-scooter? And the winner is … shows. The electric folding bikes from Fiido are particularly popular, also because of their very attractive prices. The Fiido D4S (test report) is the current all-rounder and the Fiido M1 (test report) is an e-fat bike that can be folded up. Incidentally, the Fiido M1 is based on the Mate X (test report). The big disadvantage of all Fiido bikes: They are not approved for German roads. Buyers can legally roll the very good Blaupunkt Fiene 500 (test report) on German roads.

Brompton has a cult following when it comes to its folding bikes, and its followers affectionately call them Brommis. The Brompton folding bikes are characterized above all by their elegant and very efficient folding mechanism. No competitor works that small. This makes them particularly interesting for campers, boaters, commuters and everyone else who wants to stow them folded in the smallest of corners. Brompton pays for that well, their folding bikes are among the most expensive on the market. The test report of the Brompton Electric shows whether the electric version of the cult folding bike is also convincing.

The look of an e-folding bike takes getting used to in general. Often adults on folding bikes look like they do on a children’s bike – kind of funny. Brompton Electric is no exception. Compared to a normal bicycle, the wheels are too small and thin. The frame is also very low and the handlebar and seat post protrude high from it.

Apart from that, the Brompton is quite handsome. This is mainly due to its almost filigree appearance. The most striking feature is the Brompton-typical, slightly curved frame bar between the handlebar and saddle. The seat post can be fixed at a height of between 60 and 111 centimeters with two quick-release fasteners. This is also enough for very tall people. The saddle itself is comfortably softly padded. The handlebar is fixed at a height of 110 centimeters.

The Brompton Electric combines a hub gear with a derailleur.

The handlebars seem unusually empty at first. This is mainly due to the fact that Brompton does without a screen for displaying the current speed and the total number of kilometers driven. This display is not absolutely necessary, but we still miss it at first. In addition to the usual handles for the brakes, there is also a two-speed derailleur on the left and a three-speed gear hub on the right on the handlebars. Together that makes six courses. What is particularly unusual here is that the lowest and highest gear have a suitable gear ratio. So you get up steeper mountains in the lowest gear and the highest gear works even at higher speeds so that you don’t kick yourself dead. As a buyer, you can also opt for a variant without a hub gear.

Tiny! Hardly any other folding e-bike can match the folding dimensions of the Brompton Electric.

We have to attest a certain ingenuity to the folding mechanism. We have never seen this so simple and effective on any other folding e-bike. The highlight is hidden in the back wheel. With one grip, it folds 180 degrees from below to the frame bar and locks into place when the seat bar is pushed down. Now fold in the frame and click the front wheel into place, fold the handlebar and put on a pedal – done. With a little practice, this can be done in well under 30 seconds. If you first remove the battery, its dimensions are reduced from a length of 143 centimeters to 58 (l) × 62 (h) × 33 (w) centimeters. This is significantly smaller than the most compact Fiido D2S folding e-bike that we have tested (test report) with 75 (l) × 65 (h) × 45 (w).

It’s not just great that it holds together securely when folded in this way. Thanks to three wheels, it also has a kind of trolley function, so it can be comfortably pushed in front of you. At just 14.5 kilograms, it is light enough to carry a few steps. The variant with the two-speed gearshift weighs as much as 13.7 kilograms. Both of them add three kilograms of battery. Despite its low weight, the Brompton Electric carries drivers with a weight of up to 105 kilograms.

Brompton dispenses with a side stand. This is simply because it is very easy to fold the rear wheel. Once folded, the folding bike stands securely on the three castors and takes up less space with a reduced length of a good 100 centimeters.

The driving experience is smooth and agile. The handlebar feels firm. Folding bikes often wobble too much, not so with Brompton Electric. Even without a motor, it drives without great resistance. A small rubber buffer on the rear wheel ensures minimal suspension. The rest is taken care of by the 16-inch wheels. However, the Schwalbe tires are a bit too narrow for our taste.

The pedal assistance works great thanks to a torque and cadence sensor in the bottom bracket. We miss this sensor in all of the other folding e-bikes that we have tested so far, whose pedal assistance only states the states A and Out know.

The engine on the front wheel takes getting used to.

The 250 watt motor in the front wheel pushes up to 25 kilometers per hour, but without reaching the power of a Mate X (test report). This is the first folding e-bike in our test series with the engine in the front wheel. It takes some getting used to, as we almost kissed the asphalt in the test. Rolling slowly in a curve, we stepped in full, the engine gave maximum support – and the front wheel lost its grip and spun. Everything went well in the situation. Nevertheless, the front-wheel drive requires careful driving behavior.

Shoe brakes are used at the front and rear. These work well enough. Nevertheless, you can even find mechanical disc brakes for around 500 euros on very cheap e-folding bikes like the Fiido D2S (test report). Presumably, Brompton decided against it for weight reasons and to keep their bike foldable.

The Brompton Electric’s battery is protected in a bicycle bag and attached to the main frame in front of the handlebar. There are two buttons on it for the light, the selection of the support level and switching the motor on and off. In addition, five LEDs indicate the charge level.

The battery can be released from its anchorage with a single movement.

All of this is not exactly fancy, but again very practical. This pocket can be removed with a flick of the wrist. You should also use this regularly when you lock the Brompton Electric, because you cannot lock the bag with the battery. In the bag itself there is also a small compartment that can hold the power supply. If the bag is too small for you, there is an option with a capacity of 15 liters.

The battery has a capacity of 300 watt hours, the 2 ampere power supply needs about 3.5 hours for a full charge. With the optionally available 4-amp power supply unit, this time should be reduced to two to three hours. There is a USB-A port on the battery to charge your smartphone, for example.

During our test drive, we came to almost 40 kilometers on a mostly flat stretch, a lot of asphalt, full support level and a driver weight of around 85 kilograms. This number can vary greatly depending on the driver and the environment. Brompton himself writes from 30 to 70 kilometers.

The front and rear lights react to lighting conditions as required and switch on and off accordingly. Permanent on or off is also possible. Nice: Brompton hides a small air pump by the rear wheel. The small bell is nicely integrated into the circuit on the right side of the handlebar. The permanently installed mudguards keep water, moisture and dirt away from the driver while driving. This is also ensured by the two rubber flaps on the front and rear mudguards. But the front one in particular looks oversized and exudes a bit of retiree flair.

Brompton wants a lot of money for his cleverly designed folding e-bike. For the two-course version, buyers currently have to put around 3000 euros on the table, for the six-course version even 3200 euros.

Fiido’s bicycles show that it can also be much cheaper. Here the Fiido D2S (test report) costs from 500 euros. The excellent Fiido D4S (test report) is just under 800 euros Banggood (purchase link). For a good 800 euros you can get over Geekmaxi (purchase link) also the fat full-suspension Fiido M1 (test report).

Brompton has cult status among folding bike enthusiasts. Not wrongly. The folding mechanism in particular is really ingenious. It works twice and thus achieves folding dimensions that the competition can only dream of. Even with the rest of the e-folding bike you can tell the long experience of Brompton, every detail seems well thought out and adapted to the needs of the rider.

But the Brompton Electric is not without flaws either. For many, the most deterrent is likely to be the high price, nothing goes below 3000 euros here. You also have to get used to the front-wheel drive first; on gravel, for example, a spinning front wheel can be dangerous. However, you quickly get used to the fact that there is no display.

Anyone who has the money for the Brompton Electric should be happy with it. But it can also be cheaper, as the Blaupunkt Fiene 500 (test report) shows, which is only half as expensive. But even Blaupunkt cannot match Fiido’s low prices. For example, the Fiido D2S (test report) costs just over 500 euros, the much better Fiido D4S (test report) a good 700 euros.

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