On Your Bike Birmingham had a pre-production eBrompton available for test rides at the end of last year. Having followed the Brompton story since buying my first one in the 1990's and never having ridden an e-bike I was keen to have a go. Also knowing that before too long I might need a little battery boost to keep getting my cycling fix and even one day possibly be moving to a smaller apartment or "elderly village" without the luxury of a garage/bikeshed.
The eBrompton is a neat little machine much like original and iconic folder but it has been equipped with a powerful motor in the front wheel, a clever battery mounted in the front pannier slot and the complex electronic sensors that enable compliance with EU rules on pedelecs. A lot of effort has gone into design and development with strengthened forks and getting the electronics right. It feels like a high tech quality product and the price is going to reflect this. The bike folds and feels like any other Brompton, making it a boon for urban living and easier to handle and store than the more common large electric assist hybrid style bikes. But with the motor and battery it is still quite heavy. Although you naturally carry the bike in one hand and the battery bag in the other, you would want to use a lift rather than a staircase and keep wheeling rather than carrying when changing trains at New Street.
Out on the roads of Digbeth, the little stealthy black Brommie took off like a racing bike up to the mandatory 15 mph when the assist cuts out. I had fun doing hill reps a few times, still pedalling hard just for fun, but it could also just cruise up in comfort. You are still exercising but making great progress without going into the red zone as the heart rate limiter kicks in and the wheezing starts. There were a few teething problems with this pre-production bike, which is to be expected, but Brompton will no doubt have addressed these now the bike is in production; Bromptons are noted for their quality and attention to detail. I enjoyed my role as a test pilot but I still hope to be doing my own pedalling for a bit longer on my trusty 14 year old conventional Brompton.