Battery: 300Wh; full charge takes approximately 4 hours
Max estimated range: 20-45 miles
Max assisted speed: 15mph
Motor: Hub-mounted 250 W
Gearing: 6 gears
Wheel diameter: 16 inches
Weight: 34.2 pounds with battery, advertised
Years ago, when I worked at Rose Bike Shop in Orono, Maine, I could climb up into the shop’s barn attic and find any number of Brompton folding bikes. Those relics my boss had stashed away were no doubt fun rides, but they did not feature the modern touches the Brompton Electric Folding Bike does — most notably, the detachable battery and the front-hub-mounted motor.
On top of that, Brompton has taken countless leaps in usability over the years to make the folding and unfolding process quick, simple, and secure. The Electric Folding Bike takes seconds, literally, to fold and unfold. It’s actually a fun process at that.
The question is whether a folding bike makes sense as an e-bike application in the first place. The 16-inch wheels are small and the battery is, too, in order to keep weight to a minimum. That means the top speed for the assist is 15 miles per hour. (Given the small wheels, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.) So what types of riders will benefit from the Brompton Electric Folding Bike?
City dwellers on the way to the office, take note of our Brompton Electric Folding Bike review.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L: Price and availability
The Electric Folding Bike H6L costs $3,800, which places it in the middle on the spectrum of folding e-bikes. Some high-zoot options, such as the GoCycle G4i+, go for as much as $6,000, while the Lectric XP 2.0 costs just $1,000. You can purchase it through the Brompton website, or at a local dealer that carries Brompton bikes.
The Brompton website offers plenty of accessories and replacement parts for the Folding Bike H6L; a special Bolt Blue Lacquer version of the bike is available for $4,050.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L review: Design
The Electric Folding Bike H6L comes with small 16-inch wheels to keep the overall package light and compact. The motor is actually the front hub, and the battery mounts in front of the handlebars on a specially designed mount that catches the battery and secures it in place. You can release the battery by pressing the button on the top of the battery next to the handle.
The assist level is controlled by pressing the power button on the top of the battery. There are three assist modes, offering you more or less help depending on your needs. LEDs indicate what mode you are in, as well as your current battery life.
A long, telescoping seatpost offers plenty of adjustability for riders of various heights. There’s the main post, and a second post tucked within, both secured in place by quick release levers.
The handlebars attach to a long post as well. It swings into place on a hinge and secures with a clever and easy-to-use clamp design. When the bike is folded, the handlebars and long post swing down and secure to the main body of the bike via a nub that slots into a clamp.
Brompton includes an elastomer shock absorber between the main frame of the bike and the rear triangle. This is a clever nod to comfort; it soaks up big chatter from the road and larger square edge hits. But be ready for a bit of bounce in the rear end as a result.
When you park the Electric Folding Bike H6L, simply press the lever behind the seatpost on the frame, and pull up on the back wheel. It will swing underneath the frame and rest on a metal kickstand of sorts, which has two small wheels that help you slide the bike around if you need to. Just be sure to tilt the front wheel to one side or the other when you perform this maneuver. Otherwise you run the risk of smashing the rear wheel into the front wheel’s fender.
The Electric Folding Bike H6L includes a front and a rear light that turn on automatically when you power up the battery. You can turn these on or off at any time using the button on the battery. There’s also a small pump included with the bike that mounts out of the way so you’ll forget all about it until you need it.
If you want more data, you can connect your bike to the Brompton app. That gets you your speed, trip time, battery charge, and more information that could benefit you down the road. The app can tell you your total mileage and service history, for example.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L review: Performance
I would have loved to have spent more time on the Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L because it’s a whole lot of fun to ride. There are a few things I’d change about it, but generally I had a great time riding the bike.
It’s light and easy to maneuver, fold, and unfold. I could stow my keys in the battery pouch, and could easily detach the battery to take it with me into the coffee shop. It’s not difficult to access the power settings on top of the battery either. It’s easy to use, though far less fancy than other options with LED screens and the like. That didn’t bother me much, and if it bothers you, simply pair your phone to the battery via Bluetooth and use the App. All of these small details means the Brompton Electric Folding Bike is well thought out for the true end user: a city commuter.
Steering is more stable than I expected, though riding over the train tracks near my house at a fairly high speed was a frightening experience. Of course, the Brompton isn’t made for that, so exercise caution with the small wheels. I would love it if this came in a 20-inch-wheel version for added stability.
The pedal assist isn’t as powerful as other options. I found myself pedaling under my own power far more often. But it kicks in at the right moment, particularly at stop lights and getting going from a full stop. It gives you enough assist to get up most hills easily, but you’ll definitely notice the smaller motor in certain situations, particularly when you top out on the max assist speed quicker than other options.
That said, since the wheels are fairly small, any more power would become problematic and end up getting you into some trouble. Since the Brompton seems designed for use in stop-and-start traffic situations and city streets, it’s unlikely you’d need to go much faster anyway.
The elastomer between the main triangle and the rear triangle buffers some road chatter and big hits. It recoils a bit too much for my liking, but it undoubtedly ups the comfort quotient.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L review: Battery life
The 300Wh battery for the Electric Folding Bike H6L weighs 6.4 pounds and can be removed easily so you can run into the coffee shop or leave it at home and ride the bike without pedal-assist.
The Brompton website touts a 20-45 mile range for the Electric Folding Bike H6L, which is a fairly standard promise in the e-bike market. On my first ride, I went about 7 miles, mostly on the highest assist setting; by the end of my ride I had used one ‘dot’ of battery life according to the LED display.
Given that the assist cuts out at 15 miles per hour, I have no problem believing I could get 45 miles out of a single battery charge, depending of course on what assist level I was using and how often I was using it.
I did encounter one instance in which the assist simply stopped working altogether, and the battery LEDs started blinking. I turned the battery off and on again, and have not had any troubles since.
One nifty feature: the battery includes a USB port so you can charge your portable devices with it. The battery slides into a carrying bag with a front pocket, which is perfect for stowing your phone as it charges.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L review: Competition
Among electric folding bikes we’ve reviewed, the Lectric XP 2.0 electric folding bike costs $2,800 less and features massive tires for stability, higher speed capabilities, and a throttle system in addition to pedal-assist. But the Brompton is far lighter, and easier to fold and unfold. It also has a smoother pedal-assist that feels more natural and responsive, which becomes important at stop lights when you’re starting from a dead stop.
GoCycle’s G4i+ also features larger wheels and tires, and offers a lightweight package and easy-to-fold design. But it also costs $6,000, so the Brompton wins on price here by a longshot.
Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L: Verdict
The Brompton Electric Folding Bike H6L is a wonderful solution for city dwellers who need a small, convenient method of transportation to the office. It’s especially useful if you’re short on storage space at home or in the office, or if you need to stow it on public transportation like trains and buses. The Electric Folding Bike H6L is so easy to fold and unfold that it’s no trouble at all to do it several times on your commute.
The pedal-assist is limited to 15 mph, so if your commute is very long without any interruptions like stoplights, you’ll be pedaling without the assist more than some other options.
I would have preferred slightly larger, 20-inch wheels on my test bike, just for stability on the types of roads I ride. But if you’ll be doing a lot of starting and stopping in city traffic, you probably won’t be much bothered by the small 16-inch wheels, and in fact they end up being convenient when storing the bike in a closet or under the desk.
Brompton hits a good compromise between storage functionality and city rideability at a price that makes it competitive among the folding e-bike market.