E-Brompton Banter---Part 9---E-xtended Test
by Turbo Bob
When the great folks at NYCeWheels sent me this electric Brompton for testing a year ago, I figured it would be a 2 or 3 month excitement that might someday fade from my memory. As 3 months turned to 6 and now to 12, I know that myself and all that have gotten the chance to feel the magic this bike offers will hold onto the thrill for years to come. This isn't just any every-day, throw-away bike, it is special in a way that is both easy and hard to describe. As I put pen to paper (so to speak), let me try.
The Electric Brompton is the perfect folding electric bicycle for...everything!
Me being a 5 year + E-bike veteran, I have ridden so many different variations of them. Fast and slow, big and little, inexpensive and very expensive E-bikes have come and gone my way as my bike blog exploits continue. Yet none have offered the utility and convenience I have received from this H3L E-Brompton. Blazoned in bright white and powered by a compact 250 watt direct-drive front hub motor, this bike has been so many places and racked-up so many miles I can barely remember them all.
Tucked in the trunk, taken on public transportation, long group jaunts and just simple rides for local errands are all part of the resume it deals up. I have offered the controls to more friends and new friends than can be counted. It has been on radio interviews about E-bikes, tried at my bi-yearly E-bike seminars and might soon be seen on the pages of my local newspaper in an article about the blossoming desire and technology for E-bikes. Ridden in the mountains, at the beaches and city streets, I have put it though most every type of riding you could imagine.
The convenience of a folding bike meets the power of an electric bike
If you are reading this then you probably already know these facts. Folding bicycles are great. You can take them almost anywhere you go. The Brompton is as rock-solid as they come for all types of riding. It folds to the smallest of packages. It rides just as good as any full-sized bike. Security isn’t an issue as you can tuck it under a desk at work, under a table at an eatery and carry it inside at day‘s end. With three-speeds and an up-right seating position it is as comfy as can be.
E-bikes are great. They can help you up a grade or into a brisk head-wind. They can shorten the longer rides. You can arrive at your destination fresh and refreshed. Folks with conditions that make riding a regular bike tough or impossible can really take advantage of the benefits they offer. They put the fun in riding for so many people.
When you add the fantastic electric-assist to a convenient folding bike you get one of the best products ever in the bike world. That is where the E-Brompton really shines. It has just about everything one could ask for in a bike. Power to spare and utility come oozing out of every seam. Even people who were skeptical at first, after a quick explanation or ride, were also convinced this bike has so much to offer.
I will be the first to admit that way back I was not a big fan of the weak and flimsy folding bikes I tried. Plus after my first E-bike ride some 20 years ago, even though it was interesting, I found the bike was very heavy, slow and had the shortest of range. Times have changed and the E-Brompton is proof of that. Smooth, quality electric-assist mated to a rock-solid well-made folding bike is what the E-Brompton offers---nothing more and nothing less. It is hard not to lay it out that simply.
Electric Brompton: a labor of love
You may know that NYCeWheels worked very hard to come up with this combination. It is a labor of love and it shows with every stroke of the pedal. The only issue I’ve had in a year of riding this bike was one flat rear tire that I blame on a too wide rim strip, and which was repaired with a quick and easy modification of the factory part. I invested in a new tube and I think we can all agree that is small change for a year of fun and extensive riding.
I guess I will continue this extended test. For how long? Who know? What I do know is that I am loving it and the ride and reporting won’t stop this month or next. Thinking about getting your own electric Brompton? I say “Go for it!”
“No excuses.”---Ted Smith.
My name is Jack, an employee at NYCeWheels bike shop in NYC. At the shop, part of my job is to connect with communities of cyclists via social media outlets. This is a two way street-- we post pics of our bikes, links to the most recent videos reviews etc, and in return people send us their own stories, pics and videos. This is really the best part of my job, getting to be a part of people's passions, being given a window into a wide variety of creative and innovative projects. Some of the most interesting projects I've come across are from cyclists looking to convert their bicycle into an electric bike via an electric bike conversion kit. Many of the most creative electric bike conversions have involved the BionX Bike Kit.
BionX- versatile electric conversion kit
Just to give a little background, the BionX Bike Kit is an electric conversion kit, which allows you to convert virtually any regular bike into a powerful electric bike. The versatility of the BionX Bike Kit makes it popular with e-bike enthusiasts looking for creative ways to electrify their bikes (and other wheeled contraptions).
The BionX on a Recumbent tricycle
Converting a recumbent bike with an electric conversion kit is such a logical and brilliant idea, that I wonder that I'de never considered it before. Here's a good example sent to us from Brenden, a past customer who installed the BionX Electric Conversion Kit on his Scorpion Recumbent Trike. You can see the BionX on the back wheel. Aside from having a killer look, the Scorpion makes a great choice for electric conversion, due to it's large wheels, and nice comfy seat. Whenever you need a break, just lean back, and let the motor carry you along in comfort. Man I really need to get me one of these.
BionX on a wind powered trike. What? Oh Yes.
This is probably one of the most eccentric electric conversions I've come across, the BionX Powered Pterosail Trike. This was built by Pterosail Trike Systems in 2010, who announced they would be taking their wind powered trike cross country as a triumph of green technology. The trike is meant to be powered primarily via sail, but, when the wind is lacking, the rider can activate a 36o watt BionX motor attached to the back wheel, to help motor along in the interim. This is so amazingly cool, I don't even have the words.
Custom BionX Mods
As BionX conversion kits become increasingly well known, we're starting to see some really great custom jobs. Some of these have been pioneered by my coworkers here at the shop. Last year we created an electric folding Mountain bike, installing the BionX Motor on the Montague Paratrooper. And just last month, my coworker built up one of the first electric fat bikes, installing a motor on the Surly Moonlander, featuring impressive 4.7 inch tires.
Other Custom BionX Conversions have come straight from past customers. One of the most creative and prolific E-bike pioneers has been Paul DeGarie, who has sent us a steady stream of impressive Custom BionX conversions on a variety of different of different bikes.
As the new 2013 season gets off the ground, I look forward to seeing what electric conversions we'll be seeing next. In a world where bikes fold, have sails, and can be electrified via powerful conversion kits, anything seems possible.
Yes, this E-Brompton is looking good, in the city, suburbs or the country. It has lines that are unmistakable and loved by many. Even though it has been converted to an electric-assist bike by NYCeWheels, it is all Brompton. The arch of the frame and the rise in the handlebars just talk to me. No, I’m not going batty, just speaking my mind without inhibitions.
For many of you, the sexy look of a Brompton is an everyday excitement. Whether you already ride one or are saving your pennies to get one, you have the bug. Just a glimpse of one of these fast moving folding bikes is enough to bring converts into its graces. If the profile doesn’t get you, the scene of the folding procedure will pull you in.
How will you look when riding a Brompton? Well, if the bike looks awesome, you should reflect the same. I know I am no GQ model (although I am featured in the centerfold of a brand X E-bike catalog), I think I look pretty racy saddled up on this fancy electric folding bike. With no sweat on my brow or a strained appearance on my face, my smile when riding makes for a pretty sight. My E-Brompton and I are quite a vision as we pedal by.
My H3L E-Brompton is white, which I really think pops. Of course, they come in lots of great colors and even combinations of colors. A raw lacquer Brompton with the E-conversion would be especially worth riding. You may have seen some of the custom painted and decorated versions of this folding bike I have posted on the NYCeWheels Facebook page. One of those with electric power could be like a color explosion.
The Brompton Bike Community
Brompton riders are kind of like their own club. They band together and even share a wave or ring of the bell as they pass. The smile from anybody riding one of these is contagious. People look their best when they are with friends and happy. Even if you are riding on your own, you can consider your bike as a friend and that makes you happy too. Content riders just look sexy.
Poetry in motion can be one way to describe an E- Brompton and its passenger as they roll down a city street. The smooth cadence of the pedals, the quiet power of the 250 watt front hub motor and the peaceful calm of the riders thoughts are the dreams of many. The serenity of security this folding bike gives you at each stop adds to the rhyme of the ride. A Brompton, E-powered or not, can make your life a living dream.
When you ride one of these alluring folding bikes you might want to dress the part. Your Sunday best, your Saturday grubbies, or a classic English outfit might bring it all together for you. For me, short pants, a t-shirt and sandals do the trick. That’s my daily uniform, but I have been known to dress up in tweed and argyle for special occasions. Clothes might make the person, but the bike can make the difference. Add a Christys’ Fur Felt Bowler hat for the full effect if you feel the need.
Fashion can have a lot to do with the Brompton lifestyle. Any garb will do, but for large numbers of riders, the sexy look of a Brompton needs to be highlighted with some fancy threads. A loving couple, dressed to the tens, on a pair of these folding E-bikes is a sight we all love to see. So hit the mall, check your tire pressures and take to the city streets on a E-Brompton for the thrill of a lifetime.
Sexy is as sexy does- Turbo Bob.
“The grace and charm of the bicycle lend added warmth and contour to the persons of the lovers it joins.”---James E Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor.
Read more Blogs by Turbo Bob
As a member of the London Brompton Club, I get to see a lot of what is going on in this great folding bike’s hometown. One of the things I’ve noticed over and over is that many of the bikes in the club have names. In fact, I have been egged on by several of my fellow members to name mine. One suggested the name ‘Sparky’.
Sparky the Brompton Bike?
I’m sure you can get a feel for the thought behind this name. E-Brompton, electricity, sparks. All that comes together into a fun name. Me, I’m not all that hot on naming my bikes, but the idea has merit. Some of the names for the club’s bikes are clever or have some deeper meaning I‘m not privy to.
If you are a Brompton lover too, head on to their site on Facebook for a look.
I don’t ever expect to see any sparks from this great little folding bike. The quality of the electric-assist conversion by NYCeWheels is top-notch with no worries of such things. With some of the best pieces available, from the motor down to the smallest connector, the only light coming from this baby is shooting out of the headlight I use for night riding.
The months keep rolling by and so does this awesome little E-Brompton. Of course I have wiped it down and aired-up the tires a few times. Other than that, it has been nothing but good old-fashioned fun with nary a hiccup. Although it’s boring to not have any bad news to report, riding it is anything but. It is truly a fun generator, an ’E’ ticket ride from day one.
From day one with my E-Brompton
You might remember the week I got it, it was part of the radio show I was invited to be on. They wanted to talk E-bikes and the E-Brompton was on hand to back me up. Both the radio hosts rode the E-Brompton and E-bikes were the topic of the evening. One of them even joked (not really funny) that she was going to pop it in her trunk while I was on the air. There was a lot of electrical energy that night, but no sparks.
When I gave my E-bike seminar in July, it was the first E-bike I showed the crowd. I used it as the example that E-bikes are just bikes with an added accessory. First I rode it without the battery, and then with. After my talk many people took it for a ride. For some of them it was not only their first E-bike ride, but their first exposure to a Brompton. There was plenty of excitement that night, but again, no sparks.
I took it to the opening of a new section of beach trail near Coronado. There was a big crowd that day. I can’t even remember how many people mounted up the E-Brompton and took a spin on the bikeway. Up and down the trail it went countless times. Everyone got off with the biggest smile. And tons of gawking took place every time I folded it into a little itty-bitty package. If sparks were going to fly, that would have been the day.
Traveling with the E-Brompton
Twice this electric-assist folder has made the trek to CicLAvia, (in the trunk of the car as LA would have been quite a ride from my place). With 100,000 people and bikes on hand, we talked to plenty of Brompton owners. Each one was pleased to see how nicely the electric conversion was done and wanted to give it a try. The power was flowing that day. Lot’s of electricity got used and not one spark was seen.
I taken it on many group rides here in town. Lots of them have been night rides. Lights blinking everywhere is always part of the scene. The E-Brompton gets its share of lights and looks at each one. It is always easy to keep up with the group using the pull of the motor when needed. The glowing sidewalls may have seemed on fire, but that was the only thing sparking on those rides.
We just got back from a great trip to Yosemite and Santa Cruz. With a pair of folding bikes in the trunk, (The E-Brompton and the Tern Link P9---both from NYCeWheels) we rode in so many places. Cruising though the trees and spectacular scenery at Yosemite was just electrifying. There is no better way to see parts of this great country than from the seat of a folding E-bike. Thank goodness there were no sparks on that week.
So I won’t be naming this E-Brompton anytime soon. If I did, then possibly naming it after a toy drum-banging bunny or a watch that keeps running after an elephant steps on it would be more appropriate. The E-Brompton from NYCeWheels just keeps rolling on the miles with no complaints. If you’ve named your Brompton, let us know what it is and why, thanks.
What‘s in a name?
Turbo Bob's Bike Blog
“I think the most ridiculous sight in the world is a man on a bicycle, working away with his feet as hard as he possibly can, and believing that his horse is carrying him instead of, as anyone can see, he is carrying the horse”.---George Bernard Shaw, An Unsocial Socialist.
By Turbo Bob
What a great time it is for electric bikes. The quality and ride keep getting better, as the weight and inefficiency gets trimmed. I just got the thumbs-up to be involved in an extended test on one of NYCeWheels’ E-Bromptons and I couldn’t be more excited. As Izzy builds this great converted Brompton for me, I will spend some time to think and dream about the pleasures to come.
You may have read my ’Boy Gets Brompton’ series of articles on one of the NYCeWheels’ sites. I got to spend three months with a Raw Lacquer M3L and came to understand it very well. Some of the stories were a little whimsical, but overall, I really got to dive deep into all the plusses and the few minuses of this great folding bike. Bottom line is, I love Bromptons.
As too, I love E-bikes. The electric-assist bike has been carving out its place in this world, and the word keeps getting spread. Great for so many people and reasons, adding a electric motor assist to a bike can make all the difference for utility and recreation riding. So what better combination then the ultimate folding bike, paired with an electric-assist system? It would seem to be a match made in heaven.
So let’s talk about the bike headed my way. First off, the base bike will be the new H3L. This brand-new version has a longer stem that allows the handlebars to sit two inches higher than the original layout. This will not only lend to my comfort (my 6’ 2” frame), but to the comfort of all riders who desire a more up-right seating position. This up-dated model still has the same super small folded size, and every great feature the L model offers. That includes fenders too.
You must know by now that you can get your Brompton bike in the most cool selections of colors. You can mix and match, or have yours in all one color. NYCeWheels offers their basic E-Brompton in black or white, but for a little extra, the color palette is wide open. They can also convert your existing Brompton to an E-bike so your color style doesn’t have to change. My new H3L E-Brompton is going to be the ‘in-your-face’ white. Talk about standing out in a crowd. It should be awesome.
The E-bike conversion is one that they have perfected to a ‘T’. With quality pieces from twenty different sources, Bert and Peter (Izzy too) have gone far out of their way to make sure this bike is right on the money. I’ve seen the videos and poured over the specs, and I am sure this E-bike won’t disappoint. My desire for the increased capacity 10 Ah battery was oked by the shop, so my fun rides will be extra long.
The battery will fit into the included ’C’ bag that impressed me so much on my last Brompton bicycle test. It has many pockets, is water-resistant, and comes with a water-proof cover bag just in case you want to ride in wet and wild conditions. There will be plenty of room to keep the battery charger in the bag so it will be handy when I am out-of-town. And believe me when I say, I plan on taking this bike to some far-away places. That is just one draw of a folding bike like this.
With a strong 250 watt front hub motor, I expect to have all the power I need. It will be a brushless and gearless motor. That means it will be quiet and efficient. With virtually no moving parts, it should last longer than who knows what. A thumb throttle will allow me to use the power when I like, with none wasted. That should net me some long rides with an easy way to the top of any hill or grade I encounter.
The whole conversion will add about 18 to 20 Lbs to the overall weight. It might make carrying the bike a little tougher, but almost half of that will be in the detachable carry bag, so I don’t expect it to bother me too much. And any weight penalty will be more than overcome by the power which the motor will add to my legs. If you have ridden E-bikes, you fully know what I’m talking about.
So, as I wait for the delivery driver to make his way to my house, I know that this E-Brompton will make it all worthwhile. Expect to see a flurry of articles about my new folding bike hit these pages. Take this time if you will, to read the ’Boy Gets Brompton’ stories to find out more about my take on Bromptons. Also, I hope you get a kick out of my E-titles for each post.
Thanks for reading, Turbo Bob.
Of course, you could always just order your own E-Brompton and find out for yourself... or an convert your current Brompton to an eBrompton.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”---Ernest Hemingway, By-Line.
Picking out the best electric bike motor kit can be difficult if you're not really sure how an electric bike operates. There are electric bike kits with different kinds of batteries, controls, and motors. Picking out the best kit requires a basic knowledge about how each component works. Getting past the quality of each part, there are certain aspects of an electric motor kit that depend on the preference of the rider. For example, is an electric motor better in the front wheel or in the back wheel of the bike? Neither choice is better than the other, but there are certain advantages to each one.
Front Wheel Electric Bike Motor Kit
The front wheel motor is a common piece of the electric bike motor kit, because of the ease of installation. Just remove the front wheel and pop on the new motor wheel and you're finished! Usually, these types of motors work with a throttle-based electric bike motor kit, such as the eZee Bike Conversion Kit. It feels a bit like getting "pulled" by the bike, rather than "pushed," but with the weight of the rider and battery in the back, it's a nice equal weight distribution.
Another advantage of the front hub motor is the ability to install internal hub gears inside the back wheel. This type of low-maintenance electric bike, with a front hub motor and rear hub gearing, has practically no problems as an everyday commuter bike.
Rear Wheel Electric Bike Motor Kit
The rear wheel motor is a great choice for electric bike motor kits that utilize a pedal-assist mode. Since the motor is attached to the gears, a torque sensor can actually measure how hard the rider pedals the bike. This is utlizied in the versatile BionX electric bike kit. With a pedal-assist bike, the added pedal power takes much of the strain off of the battery, and the bike can travel much further on a charge. On a BionX bike, there is an option to push a throttle for an added speed boost.
Rear wheel motors tend to feel like they're "pushing" you, rather than "pulling," which doesn't change the feel of the bike too much, but tends to be easier to power around sharp turns.
Ultimately, the location of the motor is up to the preference of the rider. Some people enjoy the front wheel for its easy installation and ability to work with a rear hub, while other people like the torque sensitive rear wheel and "pushing" sensation.
Both options are available at NYCeWheels as electric bike motor kit options.
It's not rocket science to tell the difference between an electric-powered bike and a regular bicycle. For one, the guy riding the regular bike is working a lot harder to pedal, while the electric bike rider is smiling and cruising along. Of course, electric bikes are much quieter than gas-powered bikes, so at a glance, it's hard to tell if a bike is even electric at all! The average person, unless they have a background in electronics, probably isn't aware of how easy it is to convert a regular bicycle to an electric-powered bicycle. Believe it or not, there are only three primary components needed to have a fully-functional electric-powered bike. If you can change a flat tire, you can turn your bike into an electric bike. Let's get to it!
Electric Bike Motor
The muscle behind the electric bike is the motor. Ranging anywhere from 200 watts all the way up to 1000 watts, this is the large rotating device that helps the wheels to spin on their own. Modern electric bikes have the motors built into their wheels, like the Sanyo Eneloop electric bike or the eZee Torq electric bike. Older bikes used to have an external motor that powered the wheel using a chain, like a scooter. These older motors also used magnetic "brushes" which would wear out over time. Newer electric bike motors are "brushless," and have a much longer life expectancy.
An alternative to the brushless hub motor is the bottom bracket motor, featured on the IF Reach DC folding electric bike. This motor actually cycles through all of the gears, making it slightly more efficient than a hub motor. It also turns the pedals instead of the wheel, so the rider feels a little more in tune with the motor, rather than feeling pushed or pulled by an external force.
Most electric bikes don't need a bigger motor than 500 watts, especially for commuting. The US law sets the maximum speed at 20 mph for electric bikes, so any motor that is bigger is sort of pointless. Smaller motors tend to conserve battery life a bit better. How long should a battery last anyway? Well I'm glad you asked...
Electric Bike Battery
Over the years, there have been many different types of batteries for electric bikes. The most common battery in the last ten years is a Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery. This is the same battery used in a lawnmower, golf cart, or go kart. You've seen these at any local hardware store - they're heavy, black, rectangular batteries. On an electric bike, they don't go very far. Depending on the bike, they have about a ten mile range. Luckily, technology has improved in recent years, and there are now much lighter batteries that have a much better range.
The most recent chemical of choice for electric bikes is Lithium. A bike running on Lithium batteries can run for 20-30 miles on a single charge, and some bikes even have the ability to recharge the battery while riding. The BionX motor kit Lithium batteries even have protection circuitry built in, so it's almost impossible to damage them from extreme motor power. Lithium batteries tend to be more expensive than SLA battreries, but the life span is also two or three times as long. There is no better battery on the market today.
Electric Bike Control
How does it work? Well you've attached a battery to a motor, so we're almost there. Now you need a way to control the whole contraption. Want this thing to move without pedaling? Just add a throttle. This is referred to as an "ebike," which is practically a moped. Ebikes are nice if you don't want to ride a bike, but they tend to drain batteries quickly. The most efficient electric bike utilizes pedal-assist, or pedelec, technology.
A pedelec bike works by measuring the rider's pedal power, and then spinning the motor at a corresponding speed, based on a preset on the handlebars. Plainly, if you select "MODE 3" you'll get 50% power from the motor, while if you select "MODE 4" you'll get 100% power. No throttles to worry about, it's all automatic. Pedelec bikes are also called Hybrid bikes because they are a "hybrid" of human power and motor power. The best part about pedelec bikes is that you feel like you're still riding a regular bike, just getting a gentle push as you go.
That's it! Just three components and you can turn a bike into a full-blown electric-powered bike! There are a bunch of different electric bike motor kits on the market, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you check out the motor, the battery, and control system before buying one, because you don't want to be stuck with something cheap!
NYCeWheels just added an electric bike kit guide to their website.
They walk you through all of the important questions step by step. I wish they had it around when I first picked out my folding bike and equipped it with an electric bike kit. It'd have saved me some time during my research. The electric bike kit guide appears to be an ongoing project. I encourage all of you to look it over and see if you have any questions that aren't answered on it. The more feedback you give them, the more they'll improve and add to the electric bike kit guide, and the more useful it will be to everyone.
I always get excited by resources such as this, especially when they are dynamic and respond to the needs of the user with new updates and information. It just makes me feel like part of a community. The electric bike kit community grows more and more every day, so it's good to see resources for that community, with it in mind, that respond to the needs of the community.
Pick the ultimate electric bike kit.
Electric bike kits are comprised of an electric bike motor, a battery pack, throttle, and charger. The electric bike motor kit should (and most do) include everything you need when you want a conversion kit for electric bike.
It is a good idea to make sure that the electric bike motor kit you are buying does include everything you will need to convert your bike to an electric bike. If the retailer does not indicate that the electric bike kit includes everything you need than you may want to ask the question before buying.
An electric bike motor kit is a great investment if you already have a quality bike that you are comfortable with and is compatible for an electric bike motor kit.
This is when it becomes really important to choose your retailer carefully. The reality is that some online retailers are just looking to make a profit and will sell an electric bike kit to anyone that wants one, whether or not it will work with their specific bike.
A reputable retailer will make sure your bike is compatible first or they will advise you before you buy your electric bike kit.
The electric bike motor and the full electric bike kit can also give you the best of both worlds when it is combined with a folding bike. A folding bike is a great way to minimize the storage space needed while maximizing your ability to obtain all the benefits of a great bike.
Some retailers offer folding bikes that are already electrified – the retailer adds the electric bike conversion kit to the bike for you. Finding a retailer that can do this is great because then you can be assured that your electric bike conversion kit is installed properly and will operate when you receive it.
Though it is relatively easy to install an electric bike motor kit on your bike, if you have the ability to hire a retailer to do it for you than you are better off. For those that cannot, you can probably install your electric motor bike quickly and easily.
Again, the most important thing to remember if you are considering buying an electric bike kit is to make sure your motorized bike kit includes everything you need to convert your bike to an electric bike – and, of course, that your bike can be converted with an electric bike kit.
More and more retailers offer custom made electric bike kits. If you are considering buying a custom electric bike conversion kit you again want to make sure that you are buying from a reputable retailer. We found a great electric bike motor kit at a shop in New York City called NYCewheels. Click here for details on the BionX electric bike kit.