New 2018 Bromptom Electric Bike - Brompton's First eBike

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
They originally attempted something with a couple of different suppliers (domestic and the usual suspects) but wasted a lot of time going down paths to nowhere. Brompton are not large enough to call the shots with the biggest suppliers but nothing “off-the-shelf” would do the job without compromising the existing bike. That appears to be the issue. There was no appetite to invent a new folder model to electrify. It had to remain a Brompton. Hence the unique kit. But most of a Brompton is built in-house anyway so it’s not like they don’t know how to manufacture rather than bolt together.

Well, this is my understanding as a customer. It’s been an interesting three months with some problems in the last few weeks. I’m happy.
ebikes.ca has had Brompton kits for some time. And from what I can glean, far superior to Bromptons attempt. ebikes.ca even has 36V TRAVEL batteries that can be legally flown.
 

SFB

New Member
Hi, It's been interesting reading the comments on the e-Brompton. I've had one since early December 2018. I have no other experience of e-bikes. So I'm curious about others reflections on power delivery.

My bike seems to deliver power inconsistently. I've tried to experiment by cycling, on my commute, steadily and consistently. Sometimes the power is delivered in a steady useful stream. Sometimes the power delivery comes and goes in sort of waves. At other times the motor seems to offer resistance to pedalling. This is as I cycle on the level at a steady speed and cadence.

Is this normal for e-bikes? What should I expect from this type of e-bike motor set up?
 

WonkyBass

New Member
My bike seems to deliver power inconsistently. I've tried to experiment by cycling, on my commute, steadily and consistently. Sometimes the power is delivered in a steady useful stream. Sometimes the power delivery comes and goes in sort of waves.
My (black) Brompton Electric also behaves this way. I haven’t taken it or my wife’s white one for their first service so far. Our factory visit last year led me to believe the then imminent firmware update that will be installed during a service will address inconsistent power delivery.

At other times the motor seems to offer resistance to pedalling.
I haven’t felt resistance on either bike. I often sense a lack of assistance but no actual drag. The motor stops assisting at 25KPH but I’m guessing that this is not what you are describing.

If you take the battery off, turn the bike upside down and spin the front wheel what do you see and hear? Our white bike made an unexplained ticking sound during this test and that factory swapped the motor when I demonstrated it. After this, the white bikes now goes faster than the black one and consumes more battery power (still original firmware on both) when we are riding together.

Is this normal for e-bikes? What should I expect from this type of e-bike motor set up?
Our 2014 BH Neo Electric bikes deliver consistent assitance to the rear hub motor proportional to our effort as soon as the pedal is depressed. Power is smooth. They feel quite different to the Bromptons where the pedal needs to rotate through a certain number of degrees before any assistance to the front hub motor is provided.

The Neo senses rider effort with a torque sensor attached to the rear mech but the Brompton has a cadence sensor in the bottom bracket that, I am told, is sensitive to the movement of the left pedal. This makes a difference to how the controller senses what the rider is doing and how much assistance to add. Brompton advise that higher cadence (faster pedal rotation) will deliver more assitance. I have tried this but can’t say it made a noticeable difference.

The Neo continues to provide assitance for a short (<1 second) but significant period after pedalling stops. Assistance stops the moment the brakes are applied as both levers have detection switches. The Brompton has no brake sensors (too many cables for “the fold”?) so I believe it cuts the power as soon as pedalling stops, presumably for safety reasons.

All told, we much prefer the assistance provided by our old electric bikes. And they are more comfortable over rough surfaces. But they are heavy, don’t fold up and disappear into the car boot, into the motorhome or next to the train seat.

I am hoping the firmware and/or motor replacement will provide a more consistent and useful power delivery once I get round to taking them into the city for a service.

Brompton Electric is a city bike, designed to be manoeuvred around the built environment with all of its hazards. I suspect that the cadence sensor and lack of brake detection coupled with Brompton’s safety consciousness about only applying power when the bike is certain the rider intends to go forward will always make this a machine that delivers assitance sensitively.

To be balanced, one of the BH “powerful and comfortable” Neo bikes suffered from a dirty torque sensor in France last June and twice launched itself without a rider. Luckily this was on a campsite and not in front of a lorry or double decker bus but it did shock the rider and left her very nervous about using it until we worked out the cause. A tiny touch of the peddle was all it took. The other Neo has since done something similar as I was pushing it while turning, which the torque sensor interpreted as “rider on board and launch”! My point being that the Brompton doesn’t start to assist until it is sure the rider intends to proceed and seems to cut its assistance the instant it believes the rider could be about to stop and these safety measures might sometimes feels like reluctance. Here’s hoping the newer firmware is just as safe but removes the reluctance.

Has anyone got the latest firmware and/or motor and did it deliver a more satisfying ride experience?
 
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Kenyon

New Member
It’s been a while since I first reported on my Brompton. It did have problems and was taken back to the shop. They downloaded new software and confirmed the faults I had told them about. The bike then functioned OK for a bit before more problems of not pulling away from traffic lights. This was an intermittent fault but when it occurred at night and I nearly ended up under a lorry, back it went immediately.

I wrote to the MD with a detailed account of what had been occurring, and that I had been waiting for the return of my bike when it started taking a bit too long. I was then offered a loaner electric bike which I went and picked up. This worked perfectly.

When I did get my bike back the problem seemed to have been resolved, but I have noticed a very occasional feeling that can only be described as running into a patch of soft sand. It does not last long and rather than slowing down it simply seems to stop accelerating. This is of a very short interval, and I have only had a few of these in months of use.

On the whole I have thoroughly enjoyed my Brompton, I have had it on the tube, and taken it down to my son and family on the train. I always take it into the shops and supermarkets and never had a problem. It is not stair friendly and I have had a couple of occasions and stations where I have had to go up and down stairs, and been rather physically challenged. One station being Covent Garden which unfortunately happens to be nearest to the shop.

I would say that I am very happy with my bike, and with the service I have received from Brompton. It is now due for its first service so I will be able to report when that has been completed.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Again, beautiful bikes. The gold standard by which everyone else works to meet. Almost true!

Making the move to electric for a successful OEM isn’t as simple, IMO, as it sounds. I think more than one great bike builder pooped their trousers like a 2 year old and can’t quite admit, despite the smell.

I know that’s a horrible way to draw a comparison, but ego and success can interfere with a good plan.

I’m surprised Brompton didn’t look. At the market and people converting to electric. At least two very successful, and one even doing battery packages that can fly.

I know, I know, a curmudgeonly view... but consistent...
 

Kenyon

New Member
Consistently negative perhaps ?

I think Brompton has made a major effort to research, and attempt to create a premium folding bike that ticks boxes that most electric bikes cannot match.
 
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WonkyBass

New Member
Consistently negative perhaps ?

I think Brompton has made a major effort to research, and attempt to create a premium folding bike that ticks boxes that most electric bikes cannot match.
I think Thomas is up for a debate. My purpose here is to find solutions and share experiences. To be fair, Brompton Electric is not available in the US and using the ebike.ca kits in the UK would appear to contravene our road laws so I have concluded that there is limited common ground for such a debate, beyond “mine’s better than yours”. No product is perfect.

The forum does have an ignore member function. Please keep posting.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
I think Thomas is trying to run up his post count, he posts all over the forum on any thread whether he has any knowledge of the topic or not, usually making a fool of himself as is the case here.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
The Neo senses rider effort with a torque sensor attached to the rear mech but the Brompton has a cadence sensor in the bottom bracket that, I am told, is sensitive to the movement of the left pedal. This makes a difference to how the controller senses what the rider is doing and how much assistance to add. Brompton advise that higher cadence (faster pedal rotation) will deliver more assitance. I have tried this but can’t say it made a noticeable difference.

The Neo continues to provide assitance for a short (<1 second) but significant period after pedalling stops. Assistance stops the moment the brakes are applied as both levers have detection switches. The Brompton has no brake sensors (too many cables for “the fold”?) so I believe it cuts the power as soon as pedalling stops, presumably for safety reasons.
WonkyB, that's a good explanation for how questionable engineering decisions screw up an ebike. Cadence sensor with no brake cutoffs, so they have to put in tons of effort to determine if rider really wants to go forward, and prevent unintended acceleration. Way too complicated.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I think Thomas is trying to run up his post count, he posts all over the forum on any thread whether he has any knowledge of the topic or not, usually making a fool of himself as is the case here.
Seriously? I have sold Brompton kits. I have 5 finished and 3 project bikes. Everyone of the BBS series, MAC front and rear. Yoch and TSDZ mids. Mixus DD, Mxus GD. And more,..Several welders a few dozen battery repairs, a few builds, and a personal use collection of near a dozen batteries, and now a grumpy old man finds it necessary to be rude again.

This is how I learn and better support my customers. I have no,reason to build post counts. There’s no impetus or reward. Felix, be nice. Perhaps your mean streak affects your points?

You can always ignore. I’ll never apologize for sharing what I know, but written communications can be easily misinterpreted. I’m willing to try again but unwilling to ignore insults.
 
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Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I think Thomas is up for a debate. My purpose here is to find solutions and share experiences. To be fair, Brompton Electric is not available in the US and using the ebike.ca kits in the UK would appear to contravene our road laws so I have concluded that there is limited common ground for such a debate, beyond “mine’s better than yours”. No product is perfect.

The forum does have an ignore member function. Please keep posting.
No sorry. Not my intent. I’ve sold Brompton kits and after reading the reports on Bromptons first entry...well I just find it odd that a company of their caliber seemingly mailed a complex and glitchy eBike. My apologies if it was taken in any other spirit.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Consistently negative perhaps ?

I think Brompton has made a major effort to research, and attempt to create a premium folding bike that ticks boxes that most electric bikes cannot match.
Unfortunately an avid supporter, Justin Elmore, developed a great Brompton kit. I was surprised a builder as forward thinking as Brompton had this problem. But as anyone that has built or repaired eBikes knows, it’s not as easy as oNe thinks. I have no real brand loyalty. I have to be diverse to keep up with kit customers. That said IMNSHO There is no folder that matches Brompton ‘s bikes.
 

WonkyBass

New Member
All Brompton Electric owners will have just received the message that just arrived here but to keep any other interested parties in the loop, here it is :-

“Servicing and Maintenance News

We hope you are enjoying your new Brompton Electric. If you haven't completed your bikes' first 100-mile service, which is FREE within the bikes' first 3 months, now is the perfect time. Please contact the store you collected your bike from to book this.

We have just released a firmware update for the motor and controller on your Brompton Electric and this will be available when you get your next bike service.

This update will modify a number of areas on the bike and ultimately improve the performance. Here are a few of its features:

Improved start response
Slight increase in assistance in all modes

NOTE: Failure to have this service, which is FREE for Brompton owners, can impact your bike warranty.

This firmware release can be installed on your Brompton Electric as part of it's next service or as a stand-alone update. If you have already had your free first bike service but would like to benefit from the improvements of this latest firmware release, there may be a charge, please liaise with your local dealer for details.

Best wishes,

The Team at Brompton”
 

AndyH

New Member
Now I've managed to get a refund from Brompton I'm able to tell the rest of the story...

I ordered a bike through the Brompton website, delivered via the nearest dealers in Manchester. It's difficult for me to get into Manchester, and I work aboard a lot. The bike was delivered late and I was out of the country so my wife collected it but didn't test it. There was a recall on the day she collected it, to replace the Quill Stem bolt. The dealer assured her this had been done and the latest firmware applied.

First time I road it the assist worked for a few yards then stopped. I assumed the problem was with the user rather than the bike so kept resetting it, checking the battery connection and charge etc. Occasionally it would work for the first yard (sometimes rather lurching and spinning the front wheel) but generally didn't work at all. I called the dealer who gave the impression it would be simple to fix with another firmware update, so I took it back to Manchester as I had another appointment in the city anyway. They told me to come back in an hour or so, and I went shopping. When I got back it was still in the workshop, and I was allowed in to meet the person working on it.

I did an engineering apprenticeship many years ago, and fix vintage 4x4's for a hobby, so I know how to use tools. The guy in the shop didn't. I watched him replace the quill stem bolt because he said it had not been changed, and showed me the replacement ones have orange paint on the top, the one on the bike didn't (so the shop had "misinformed" my wife, or lied). He replaced it using a folding allen key set rather than a torque wrench and allen socket. The folding allen key set he used wasn't even long enough so it twisted and I cringed as he graunched up the head of the bolt.

He then told me the "fault" was a bad crimped joint in the wiring loom, and he had repaired it by soldering. This was a flimsy push connector in a small plastic box under the bottom bracket. When he put the cover back on it was clearly distorted, he had either got the gasket trapped or overtightened one of the cover screws. Either way this was clearly going to let water in (and it badly designed and vulnerable anyway).

Having done all that the front wheel was powered OK when the bike was on the workshop stand and the pedals turned, but when he took it for a test ride it still didn't work, so he said they would have to keep it and refer to Brompton. During the time spent in the workshop I was cheerfully informed of all the other problems experienced (batteries bounce off the contacts on bumpy roads, a plastic lug that forms part of the battery attachment breaks etc "but not seen this before"). All this had made my really late for my other appointment, after which I had to go home on public transport which is terrible and ended up walking ten miles to get home, so I was PISSED off.

Thinking about it overnight I decided it was not possible to keep going back to Manchester, and the dealer workshop was an absolute pigsty, with tools and litter on the floor, junk all over the bench, nothing in the right place, the guy couldn't find tools so was using the wrong sized screwdrivers etc. It was worse than the worst DIY garden shed, so I had no confidence in them to fix problems. I went back again with the charger and other bits and asked for a refund. The guy running the dealers was ok about this, and agreed a refund would be reasonable but said that I would have to talk Brompton as the bike had not been bought at the shop. With some reluctance they let me leave all the bits at the shop.

I emailed Brompton asking for a refund. This resulted in several EXTREMELY annoying calls from some idiot at Brompton "customer care" who was intent on forcing me to accept the product. Eventually, after some weeks, several emails, and messages sent to Brompton management via LinkedIn (no reply), I got a refund. However they short changed me 200 quid, because they didn't refund the original deposit. More emails finally got this resolved, with no apology, more than a month after my first visit to the dealers.

Thinking of a Brompton Electric? I would say this:

-> carefully consider alternatives to a Brompton. The company seems to have over-expanded and product quality and service has suffered in the rush to massively boost sales
-> if you want a Bromton electric, buy from a dealer not online, and check out the quality of their workshop facilities before you place an order
-> don't expect it to last long in the wet
-> Get an up-front guarantee from the dealer about how they intend to deal with product malfunctions. You are not being paid to be a beta-tester

Hope this helps someone. Thanks.
 

WonkyBass

New Member
Sorry to hear of your woes. Sounds like the broken wire was where it all started to go wrong for you, compounded by an unskilled dealer and then hamfisted customer service from Brompton. You didn’t get to experience the product in any useful fashion.

I too am concerned by the (albeit limited) contact we have had with the dealer nominated by Brompton after I placed a deposit and the purchase the bikes online directly with the company. Handover was unimpressive.

Are you continuing to pursue an electric folder or has this put you off? Have you seen the teasers about the GoCycle GX that is being claimed as a 10 second fold and is similarly priced to the Brompton?
 

AndyH

New Member
I think the wire was a total mis-diagnosis and red herring. The real problem was with the sensor inside the bottom bracket. I'm amazed the non-functioning bike left the factory and this was my argument for refund.

I have another ebike, a Kalkhoff, and that hasn't been without problems either (motor in bottom bracket - leg power plus electric power delivered via chain to rear sprocket quickly strips teeth off rear sprocket). So I don't expect ebike to be as maintenance free or reliable as an ordinary bike.

I'm still looking for a folding ebike as I want to be able to get up the hill at the back of my house so i can cycle to the pub and get my wife to pick me up in the car and put the bike in the back.

Considering options, a quick fold is not so much of an issue. I don't have a shortlist yet, need to do some googling. Tern could be an option though, and there's a new Belgian brand too, can't remember the name off-hand.
 

uguntde

New Member
Hi, It's been interesting reading the comments on the e-Brompton. I've had one since early December 2018. I have no other experience of e-bikes. So I'm curious about others reflections on power delivery.

My bike seems to deliver power inconsistently. I've tried to experiment by cycling, on my commute, steadily and consistently. Sometimes the power is delivered in a steady useful stream. Sometimes the power delivery comes and goes in sort of waves. At other times the motor seems to offer resistance to pedalling. This is as I cycle on the level at a steady speed and cadence.

Is this normal for e-bikes? What should I expect from this type of e-bike motor set up?
Just to say that I experienced the same problem. But with the new formware (1.0.2) it is much better. What they did is, they lowered the torque threshold considerably, the dealer said from 10 to 6 (whatever unit). Now I don't have these moments where it suddenly cuts out when I want to take off from the traffic light.
 

uguntde

New Member
All Brompton Electric owners will have just received the message that just arrived here but to keep any other interested parties in the loop, here it is :-

“Servicing and Maintenance News

We hope you are enjoying your new Brompton Electric. If you haven't completed your bikes' first 100-mile service, which is FREE within the bikes' first 3 months, now is the perfect time. Please contact the store you collected your bike from to book this.

We have just released a firmware update for the motor and controller on your Brompton Electric and this will be available when you get your next bike service.

This update will modify a number of areas on the bike and ultimately improve the performance. Here are a few of its features:

Improved start response
Slight increase in assistance in all modes

NOTE: Failure to have this service, which is FREE for Brompton owners, can impact your bike warranty.

This firmware release can be installed on your Brompton Electric as part of it's next service or as a stand-alone update. If you have already had your free first bike service but would like to benefit from the improvements of this latest firmware release, there may be a charge, please liaise with your local dealer for details.

Best wishes,

The Team at Brompton”
For me this firmware update solved most of the problems I had.
That’s not good! Sorry to hear of your problems.

I would agree that the product is not perfect yet and the management at Brompton have said the same. Almost all of the electric components are, as far as I am aware, unique to Brompton Electric. The real-world testing is happening now and we are all doing it. If I had already owned Bromptons prior to the Electric model I think I might be feeling the same as you. It is the bike and not the electrics that contributes a lot of the appeal at this point.

AndyH (coincidentally, we share the same first name and initial!), you haven’t said what problems you are seeing although you hint that it is mechanical. I do think that Brompton management believe they now have an understanding of the general problems being experienced and can fix them via the dealer, which is perhaps the frustrating part for all concerned. You seem to be caught in a loop between the dealer and factory support. If you have had a rotten customer experience then tell Will Butler-Adams (Brompton MD) directly and tell him what it is that will make you a happy customer. That is what I would do and I have every expectation that he would get it sorted out.

Our current situation is that we have two Electric Bromptons and use full power mode all the time. The motor on our white bike was swapped for a new one at the factory visit 3 1/2 weeks ago as it was clicking. It has behaved itself since then but now seems to consume power at around twice the rate of the other, black bike. I have trouble on the black bike keeping up with my wife on the white one so I’ve concluded that the new motor is operating correctly and using power (20 to 45 miles per charge) as advertised. The black one will do 25 miles over 2 rides at full power, without recharging and still have 40 - 60% battery remaining, which seems incorrect.

As of Friday my black bike has started throwing controller error (LEDs 2 and 5 flashing) and this happened again yesterday (Sunday) when it cut out on a hill. The white bike left me standing and sailed up the same hill.

The limited dealer and service outlets for Electric Brompton are also a problem for us. We chose a dealer to collect from as we also ordered online from Brompton. 50 mile round trip by car to collect and then have a poor handover and initial setup were very disappointing - we’ve decided to go to a Brompton Junction for servicing but are waiting until after Christmas as a new firmware version will be available then that a Brompton team leader said would show the improvements we are after. This will not be an easy or convenient trip.

I asked about a widened dealer support network for Electric. We live the country and have a local Brompton dealer 5 miles from here but they are not Electric dealers. Brompton management talked instead about widening support through their new link-up with Halfords. To me, their thinking for Electric dealers and support is 1) metropolitan and 2) chains. This is the opposite of what I would prefer but I accept that I am nothing like their target customer.

They are targeting the young, busy, metropolitan dwelling worker wanting to arrive at a the office or social function without using some other transport mode and without breaking a sweat. I am an old(er), retired, rural dwelling interest seeker who likes exploring and mini-adventures with my wife whilst keeping fit. The electric element is essentially a safety measure to ensure that an adventure does not turn into a weary slog that then discourages future adventures. And the folding element means I can securely transport two bikes in the car or motorhome boot without the weight or hassle of a rack. Easy train transport is a bonus. They won’t want us in any video or marketing campaign for a Brompton Electric!

I therefore just need both bikes to perform like the white one has for the past 3 1/2 weeks and to keep doing so without continual service trips to The Smoke to be fettled. I remain hopeful that this will be achieved soon.

Interesting that you also had the clicking noise in the hub. My first Brompton electric had this and they exchanged it quickly. But your post shows that this happened not just once. The clicking was only there when the hub was warm and it didn't affect the ride.

The replacement bicycle had the other reported problem of sometimes interrupting power, in particular when I pedalled really hard. This was quite annoying when starting off from a red traffic light. Somehow the software decided that high pedal torque means that I want less e-power. But this has now been fixed with the service upgrade to firmware 1.0.2 where they lowered the torque threshold considerably. I have done only few rides since the upgrade, but it feels different and I haven't noticed this problem any more. Overall it is riding really well now.

With these issues when I contacted Brompton I had an almost immediate response. They didn't mention they had seen the clicking noise in the hub before. But they organised a replacement withint a few days. They are clearly responsive and very eager to make this work. I think they depend on this.

The only thing I really dislike is that Brompton lets only very few authorised dealers do the firmware upgrade. They can eventually charge what they want, my worksho[ said £30-50 for a firmware update, which is ridiculous. They should allow any end users do this. At the moment you need of course a special box for this which only dealers get.

I also hope to see the app sooner than later, but not having the app doesn't really affect the ride quality. And I also need Andriod and not iOS ...