Sunday 24 March 2024

A new Brompton Electric!?

This a rather difficult post on several levels and I am sure that by the time you get to the end you will see why. 

Yes, the first thing to mention is that I have a brand new Brompton in the form of a Brompton Electric, with 12 x gears. It is in a rather fetching Vermillion Red and if you are the eternal optimist like me, it is red with a dash of orange in there somewhere. (In many ways it does actually remind me of the colour of the first Brompton I ever owned when one was gifted to me when I started university). 

The strange thing is that I originally ordered a 4x speed version only a few days before all hell broke loose and the 12x speeds were released. Some emails and a phone call later and it was changed for the 12x speed.

So, why a Brompton Electric? Well, it must have been June last year when my right knee was telling me something was amiss. Resting it, doing a lot less cycling, knee supports and the odd bit of stretching did little to make things better. A trip - several weeks later - to my doctor, prodding moving the joint around brought her to the suspicion that it was, wear and tear. My past - rugby (where I was once able to run very, very quickly), Judo, Karate and jogging (yes I did jog once) all conspired against me. A hospital scan later than day actually concluded that everything was as it should be? The good news is that I will not require an operation, can still cycle and go for long walks with Mrs Orange and the Orangettes. The caveat is that I will need to change the way I cycle. 

The Consultant at the hospital - a cyclist herself - told me not to stop cycling in any way and that continuing to do so was a good thing. She concluded that I needed to perform very specific stretches to keep my knee happy. (An ex-army physical instructor type in the basement of the same establishment, later showed me what I needed to do). I told her about the type of adventures I got up to and she said that they were all okay to do but on very steep ascents I was to take it slow and steady and never try to be first up or compete. (That really is going to be hard)! She also said that if the effort required to pedal up steep inclines was becoming hard on the knee, simply get off and walk. Distances would be okay as long as I factored in some rests where I could do a few gentle stretches before carrying on. Nothing too drastic really. Audaxes (which I hate with a passion so not an issue for me) where there is a strict time limit and racing are out. So, it isn't really that bad. I have resumed cycling - where weather has permitted - and stuck to what she said. I have simply slowed down my pace. She was quite brilliant but did say that if I deviated from this, my knee issues could return. She also asked whether I had considered a Brompton Electric. 

The Brompton Electric is quite possibly being overly cautious but it was on Mrs Orange's orders. She didn't want me to give up cycling but also didn't want me to have another trip to the doctor. For her, the Brompton Electric would allow me to go on all the longer rides and night rides to the coast. The power from the motor would be there when required. A Brompton Electric in Orange was not a possibility and Mrs Orange was the one who choose Vermillion Red - one of her favourite colours. (I was actually going to choose something that was nothing near the shade of red or orange). 

I can opt to not bother using the battery/motor at all for a good few miles but have it when I need it. Those 12x gears will definitely allow this. I am totally aware of the extra weight this electric package will bring but I am fine with it. I won't be using it for commuting on buses (I haven't been on a London bus for 30 years), trains or the tube. When I do use the tube I tend to do so at less busy times and on lines that do not require lots of stairs or escalators down into the depths. In addition, I am more than able to carry the extra weight for these shorter period of time. Those of you who have read my blog for a while, will already know that public transport and I are merely nodding acquaintances. 

So, how have I found my new Brompton Electric? The extra gearing (and yes there is some overlap) really does help. I have to say that cycling without the use of the motor is much the same as cycling along on one of my existing Brompton bikes. There is very little drag - if any - up front and those extra gears do help with hills and the heavier overall package that is Brompton Electric. 

As soon as I was able I took a fully charged battery and attempted the very hilly route of the 'Cobblemanster.' For much of the route I didn't need the motor but I did want it for Canonbie Road. The assistance is quite amazing. It was as if  I had a couple ethereal angel types gently pulling me along. I have never arrived at the top so quickly or so refreshed. I had no discomfort from my knee and in short, I loved it. To further test its hill climbing prowess, I headed for Swains Lane. Not a particularly awful hill but a very good test. It performed impeccably. I also found that I didn't need anything more that assist level 2 and the first level provided enough for this and Canonbie Road.

Have I made any changes? Well, it is rather early into the relationship but I have made a few subtle ones. The Brompton decal has been replaced with my moniker of course. For once, I am keeping the Brompton saddle on. There might be some more tweeks but I do not particularly like straying too far from team Brompton. 

The Brompton Electric was a bike that I was destined to get in the future but for me it has come a little sooner. I have earned my stripes as it were, ascending pretty much any hill on my normal Brompton bikes and can now still enjoy them with the near-cheating that is that motor assist. I am rather pleased with this Brompton and it just makes me smile. (Of course, that is pretty much the story for all my Brompton bikes however this one made be smile a great deal more than I suspected)!

If you are aware of the actor Terry Thomas and the films he starred in, I could not help but liken my battery powered motor to something he might employ. In fact as I cycled towards Highgate Hill - not a million miles away from where he born - 53 Lichfield Grove - I fancied I could hear the unmistakable, 'you rotter!' 

At some point I will do a much more comprehensive review and give you my full thoughts, but I do need to used it a great deal more before this. 

Until next time, take care out there people!


  1. Congratulations on your new bike, it looks splendid! It’s good that Brompton are developing so many variations for the rider. Last year I was struggling to lug my M6L around folded after a tricky spiral fracture of my right humerus.I bought a TLine and life is transformed. I’d love a Brompton electric but would be back to the same issues. Well done for taking action before lasting damage was done to the knee!

    1. Thank you. Glad that you are on the mend and and still riding.

  2. Congratulations on this new addition to your fleet! A Brompton electric sounds like the perfect answer to your knee complaints and having the optional "push" when needed, should keep you on the roads but off public transport for many years to come. Mrs Orange is very wise.


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