Tom's Guide Verdict
Like its predecessor, the Brompton C Line Electric folding bike is a great solution for short commutes in the city, especially for apartment dwellers or office workers stowing the bike during the day.
Folds up easily
Removable battery offers versatility
Fun to ride
Wheels are too small and narrow for rougher roads
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Weight: 32 pounds
Motor: 250-watt hub motor
Battery: 300Wh, 36V (6.4 pounds)
Range: 25-50 miles
Charge time: 4 hours
Drivetrain: Brompton Wide-range 6 speed
Brompton’s Electric C Line Explore Folding bike may look familiar to you. That’s because it’s largely the same bike as the H6L — and has largely the same look as every other bike in the company’s history. It has been renamed to indicate important updates — notably, the C Line Electric bike is 2.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor, coming in at 32 pounds.
It’s also got a nifty paint job that makes the Electric C Line Explore an attractive bike to throw a leg over. And like the H6L, it’s super fun to ride, convenient if you want to stow it under your desk at work or behind the couch in your apartment, and just right for short trips around the city. Read the rest of our Brompton Electric C Line Explore review to see if you should make it part of your commute.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Price and availability
The Electric C Line Explore is available for purchase on Brompton’s website, and through Brompton dealers. You can find the dealer near you by using the dealer locator on the Brompton website.
The Brompton Electric C-Line Explore starts at $3,850 for the black or turquoise frame. If you want the black lacquer or flame lacquer, the price increases to $4,150. At the time of purchase, you can also choose from a mid-height or a high handlebar; the latter is better if you want to ride in a more upright position. If you purchase the bike through the Brompton website, you can opt to break up the purchase into payments using Klarna.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Design
Like its predecessor, the H6L, the Electric C Line Explore folds up quickly using a very cool design. Just grab the release lever behind the seat tube and pull upward.
The rear wheel will scoot beneath the frame and act as a kickstand for parking. From that position, you can also release the handlebar lever and the frame lever to fold it all down to a compact package.
Unlike other electric bikes, where the battery is integrated into the frame, the Brompton’s battery sits in a small satchel that clips into the front fork. It’s certainly not as elegant as the GoCycle, but it allows Brompton to just take its non-electric bike and give it some power. The battery releases quickly and easily from the front of the bike. It’s easy to pop it off and stow it in a backpack if you’re locking the bike up outside.
The bike itself weighs right around 32 pounds, which is 2.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor. If you pop the battery off, you can shave another 6.4 pounds and ride the bike manually.
The Electric C Line Explore features a six-gear drivetrain. You can save a few hundred bucks by opting for the Urban bike instead of the Explore; it has two gears instead of six.
The 250-watt motor lives in the front hub and offers assist up to 15.5 mph. There is no throttle; the Electric C Line Explore only offers a pedal-assist system.
It all rolls on 16-inch wheels wrapped in 35c Schwalbe tires. You can also choose a mid or high handlebar configuration; the latter gives you a more upright riding position. And, you can choose from four different colors.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Performance
I reviewed the Electric C Line Explore’s predecessor, the H6L, and gave it four stars because it was fun to ride, convenient to fold and unfold, and powerful enough for short trips around town. And the Electric C Line Explore feels almost identical to the H6L in every meaningful way.
So it stands to reason that the Electric C Line Explore will earn the same high marks. In fact, I couldn’t really find any noticeable differences between the two, aside from the slightly lighter weight of the C Line Explore.
That assessment pertains to both the benefits and the drawbacks. The Electric C Line Explore is super fun to ride and surprisingly comfortable. And the front hub motor is surprisingly peppy and strong, even when you’re starting from a dead stop on hills. It’s of course not the most powerful motor out there, but any more power would be problematic on a bike this small.
And like its predecessor, the wheels on the Electric C Line Explore are its biggest drawback. While they’re fine for most riding situations, they are quite small and narrow, which can lead to some jarring hits when you roll over cracks and potholes. And rolling over train tracks near my home was still an unpleasant affair that required a lot of concentration and slower speeds.
The drivetrain’s six speeds come in handy, especially if you choose to ride without the battery. The shifting layout is intuitive and easy to use, though the jumps between gears are quite big, so you may end up doing some searching before you find the right pedaling cadence.
I do love the process of folding and unfolding the bike. And it stores neatly away underneath a desk or behind a couch. If storage space is a big concern, this bike is hard to beat.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Battery life and range
The 300Wh battery mounts to the front of the bike, just above the front wheel. It comes with a carrying case, which makes it easy to remove the battery and carry it with you when you park your bike and lock it up. Mounting and unmounting the battery takes seconds; just hit the release button and pull.
The battery uses LEDs to indicate battery life and mode. There’s also a USB port so you can charge your phone off the bike’s battery.
Brompton advertises a 40-50 mile range off a single charge. I rode the bike for about ten miles and still had an almost-full charge, so this claim seems appropriate. That of course depends on the type of terrain on which you’ll ride, and how much assist you end up using. A colleague rode the same model bike in New York for 11 miles with the assist in Mode 2 (of 3), after which the battery had drained two of five bars. If we were to estimate that each LED represented about 6 miles, that would mean you could get around 30 miles.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Accessories
The Brompton website offers plenty of parts and accessories for sale on its website. Some of the parts and accessories are Brompton-branded, but there are also several third-party parts and accessory options from brands like Zefal and CatEye. You can outfit your bike with lights, water bottles, bells, phone mounts, and more.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: The competition
The Electric C Line Explore’s most direct competition includes the Lectric XP 2.0 ($1,100) and Heybike’s Mars ($1,100). Both of those bikes feature much larger wheels and tires than the Brompton; this makes both of them more capable over a wider range of terrain, but the bigger tires and wheels also add a whole lot more weight — more than twice as much, in fact.
The Brompton is also much more expensive. But its layout, design, and folding process is far easier and more intuitive. And it folds up much more compact than either of the other two bikes.
The GoCycle G4i ($5,000) costs a bit more and is also super light at just over 36 pounds. For that extra weight, you get wider tires than the Brompton, which makes the GoCycle a much more comfortable ride. The Brompton’s folding system is much more sophisticated, though.
Brompton Electric C Line Explore review: Verdict
The Electric C Line Explore offers all the conveniences and advantages of its predecessor, the H6L. It’s small, fun to ride, offers a good battery range, and well-thought-out additional features like the USB port for charging your phone.
Its drawbacks are also the same. The wheels, while small and convenient when folded, can lead to some skittish handling over rougher roads. You’ll need to pay close attention if you hit larger obstacles like train tracks.
Ultimately, this is a nifty commuter for city riding. It’s best for commuters looking for a compact package they can stow underneath a desk at work or behind the couch at home.
Next: We spoke to the head of Brompton bikes on how buying an e-bike could save the environment.
Dan Cavallari is the former technical editor for VeloNews Magazine, who currently reviews electric bikes, bike lights, and other bike accessories for Tom's Guide. In addition to VeloNews, his work has appeared in Triathlete Magazine, Rouleur Magazine, CyclingTips.com, Road Bike Action, Mountain Bike Action, CycleVolta.com, Tomsguide.com, and much more. Dan also hosts two podcasts on his site, Slow Guy on the Fast Ride: One is about cycling and other outdoor activities, while the other looks at mental health issues. Most recently, Dan also covered the 2022 Tour de France. Dan lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his family.