Launching a more expensive electric bike in this economy may seem misguided, but the improvements over the first Brompton Electric are significant and it’s better at the things that make a Brompton a Brompton. If you can afford it, get it.
- Can be wheeled when folded
- Numerous refinements and improvements
- More expensive
- Version that can be wheeled costs even more
You can trust Coach We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.
Cycling is one of the best ways to get around, and a Brompton is one of the best ways to cycle, especially in cities. The unique way a Brompton folds, tucking its rear wheel under the crossbar as well as folding the frame and crossbar in two, means it’s small enough to store under a desk, or bring in to shops (saving you locking it up outside), or store in a corner of even the smallest apartment. I discovered that in the course of writing this Brompton Electric C Line review about the company’s first electric effort, as did a different contributor while writing their Brompton C Line Explore review.
The Electric P Line is Brompton’s second electric bike and keeps the same battery and motor, but it costs more than 20% more. It’s not price inflation, though – that extra money buys an upgraded Brompton experience. Brompton has gone all out to cut the weight down, shaving precious ounces off components all over the bike and using a new rear frame design made of titanium (which doesn’t come cheap). While the Electric C Line Explore weighed 36.6lb (15.53kg) without the removable battery, the Electric P Line drops to 28lb (12.7kg).
That new rear frame also allows for a roller rack to be added (for a price) so it can be wheeled when folded, making it more practical for more people. All of which puts it high up our list of the best e-bikes.
Brompton Electric P Line: Price And Availability
There are two versions of the Brompton Electric P Line, one with the roller frame and one without. The bike alone costs $4,700 in the US and £3,695 in the UK; with the roller rack, that rises to $4,810/£3,775. It can be bought direct from Brompton UK now, with financing options available. If you’re a UK taxpayer, it is also worth investigating if you’re eligible to use the Cycling To Work scheme, which can save you a significant amount.
It is not available to order on the Brompton US website yet, but you can sign up for alerts.
Both versions are available in muted storm grey or midnight black colourways, with mid or high handlebars at no extra cost, although the high handlebars add a little weight.
How I Tested This Bike
I tested the Brompton Electric P Line with the roller rack in storm grey with high handlebars. I had the bike for close to a month and rode more than 105 miles (169km), with the longest ride being a 16-mile (26km) trip back home after picking up the bike at the Brompton factory. I used it to cycle to work (eight miles/13km each way), to get to football (four miles/7km) and run short errands of less than a mile.
The basic fold mechanism is the same as on any other Brompton – anyone can master the basics in a couple of tries. With the seat down it folds down to 25.3in (645mm) high, 23in (565mm) wide and 10.6in (270mm) deep. As far as I’m aware that’s the smallest dimensions of any folding e-bike.
The crucial difference in the folding mechanism on the Electric P Line is that there’s a stopping block on the version with the roller rack, so when the seatpost is around halfway up you can wheel the bike along without it flapping open. On the Electric C Line you had to have the seat all the way down to lock the bike in its folded position.
It’s a great development, but not quite up to Brompton’s high design standard yet, because there’s no obvious cue that you’ve passed the stopping block. The only way to tell is to bend over and have a look, or lift it and risk looking silly if the bike unfolds in an ungainly manner. It’s not a major issue but as with Apple products, if something isn’t quite right on a Brompton it stands out.
The roller frame works well, especially on the shiny hard floors of supermarkets, train stations or my office. Make sure that if you set it down outside that the ground is flat – I soon found that on a gentle slope or uneven path it would topple over. I took to stepping on the rack when it was next to me just to ensure it stayed upright.
The battery is the same 300wh version found on the Electric C Line. The quoted range is 20-45 miles (30-70km), which tallied with my experience – it certainly managed the minimum in that range time and again, and I’m giving it a reasonable thrashing: I’m a 167lb (76kg) rider who travels with a heavily loaded backpack, especially on my commute; sticks to the maximum level of assistance whenever possible; travels in the centre of London where I’m continually stopping and starting for traffic lights, and lives up a steep hill. I am a “power” user, and the Electric P Line still delivered on its promise.
On my first day with it, it lasted 21.5 miles (34.8km) to get me home from the Brompton factory, even though I accidentally put the lights on (during the daytime). A smarter rider would set the lights to automatic on the battery’s top panel.
I also tested the middle level of assist and was left with 45% charge after 14 miles (23km). The middle level of assist still provides plenty of power when pulling away and up hills, so I’d happily ride in that mode if I had a lot of riding to do between charges without feeling like I might as well have taken my lighter, cheaper hybrid for all the work I was having to put in.
The battery is detachable so you can charge it away from the bike. It is housed in a bag with a shoulder strap so it can be carried separately to the folded bike, and it’s straightforward to clip the battery on and off.
This battery bag also has a front zipped pocket with a small opening for a lead, which allows you to connect a USB charging cable to the battery and charge your phone or other device while you ride. When I discovered this, I had another of those moments where I marvelled at how well designed Brompton bikes are. The Electric P Line also comes with a complimentary Quad Lock phone mount, so you can also run the cable to the phone on your handlebars.
It takes four hours to charge the battery, but you can purchase a fast charger that halves that. Five LEDs on the battery allow you to keep an eye on the charge when riding, and buttons let you cycle through the four assistance modes (one is off) and operate the lights.
The Electric P Line keeps the motor in the front wheel and pairs it with a torque sensor in the bottom bracket, which measures the pressure you put into the pedals along with your cadence, to deliver the required assistance. In practice I found that when taking off from stationary, the assistance didn’t kick in quite as quickly as I wanted it to, but then only one e-bike I’ve ridden has nailed that – the fourth-generation Cowboy.
Once it does get going, the assistance hits the sweet spot of delivering power without jerking you forwards – an especially hard trick to pull off with a motor mounted on the front wheel. (One other disadvantage is that it may make fixing a puncture trickier, but in this regard Brompton has upgraded the tyres on the Electric P Line to make this less likely, and Brompton has an extensive network of dealerships which will help if needed.)
Crucially, in nose-to-tail urban traffic the assist allows you to keep up with cars as they pull away, so you can take the primary position in the middle of the lane without worrying about impatient drivers behind you.
The motor also dealt easily with any hill I faced. I often had to change down gear (it seems that too slow a cadence and the motor eases off), but once I selected the right one I whizzed past other riders.
The four gears were also an ideal range and better suited to me than the six-speed Electric C Line I reviewed. On the C Line I found most gears left me with a comically high cadence, while all four on the Electric P Line had their uses.
One minor issue is that Brompton uses calliper brakes, and I prefer hydraulic disc brakes on electric bikes because you can get up to speed quickly so the added stopping power is welcome. To be fair, that’s not a possibility given the Brompton’s design, but I had to modify my riding to allow for a greater stopping distance.
The Electric P Line connects to the Brompton app quickly and reliably. It doesn’t do a lot, but it’s well designed and straightforward to use, and combined with the Quad Lock makes it easy to swipe between assistance levels and see the precise level of charge in the battery – no more wondering how much of the final 20% is left when the last light’s on.
Along with the Quad Lock phone mount, the Electric P Line comes with integrated lights and mud guards.
Is The Brompton Electric P Line Worth It?
There was something almost life-changing about having this Brompton. The sheer convenience of it – from how accessible it was to get out of the house, to how little effort it takes to whizz around, to being able to take it into shops more easily – made me consider doing errands and trips to the shops I would otherwise have rejected as too onerous.
While I had a similar experience using the Brompton Electric C Line, the Electric P Line is noticeably lighter when you carry it, and the ability to wheel it was another feather in its cap. If you can stretch to it, I’d say it’s worth paying the maximum amount to get that roller rack so you can wheel it.
If you want a Brompton Electric but your budget can’t stretch to a P Line, opt for the cheaper two-speed Electric C Line. The gearing is less important because the motor is doing the heavy lifting, and it’s lighter than the six-speed so you do even less heavy lifting.
The Gocycle G4 is priced similarly to the C line, but I still prefer the smaller dimensions of a folded Brompton. In part that’s because I chose to live in a house that favours location over size – if you have more space it may not be a consideration, but the G4 feels noticeably more unwieldy in a shop.
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.