Brompton electric folding bike
Gears 2 or 6 speed
Range up to 50 miles
Weight 13.7kg, plus battery 2.9kg
“Why does the word cheat always crop up when we talk about electric bikes?” asks Will Carleysmith, chief design and engineering officer at Brompton. “In Holland or Germany, they’re baffled by the idea. To them cycling is a pleasant, quick way to get around a city. It’s a transport solution. How can you cheat at getting to work?”
Our cramped, gridlocked cities have to change. But the answer may be surprisingly simple. In London just 5% of all journeys are made by bike compared with 13% in Berlin and more than 50% in Copenhagen. E-bikes encourage more people to cycle and also to ride further. You don’t need specialist kit and you don’t arrive drenched in sweat. E-biking is not a sport, it’s a utility. Many of the people who buy e-bikes don’t see themselves as cyclists, they just want to beat the crowds, get off public transport and rediscover their city.
But electric bikes can be heavy and unwieldy. It would be a nightmare lugging one up three storeys to your flat. Which is why Carleysmith believes Brompton’s folding e-bike could be a real game-changer.
Brompton, as you probably know, is one of the great success stories of British cycling. Originally designed in 1975 by Andrew Ritchie in his flat in South Kensington, opposite the Brompton Oratory (hence the name), the little folding bike has become a massive hit – with both bike nuts and city commuters. A couple of years ago the firm moved into a bespoke, cavernous, state-of-the-art factory in west London. Brompton is now the biggest bike manufacturer in the UK, making about 50,000 frames a year – a shiny new folding bike rolls off one of the two production lines every 90 seconds.
But going electric presented a problem. The Brompton is so precisely engineered that to add a motor, battery, sensors and computer control to such a compact frame proved a real headache. It could make it unfeasibly heavy or even stop it from folding – which, of course, is its raison d’être. To get the exacting technological fix they needed, Carleysmith started a project with the consultancy arm of the Williams Formula 1 team.
“It was harder than any of us imagined,” he says, “but after three years we’ve cracked it.” One of the key breakthroughs was to separate the battery into a bother-free bag which seamlessly clips on to the front of the bike when you are using it. This makes the bike less of a theft risk and also makes it simple to charge. The powerful 250W motor is built into the front hub and only adds 1.9kg to the overall weight. You could ride the bike without the battery if you wished. But why would you? Remember, this isn’t about hard work, it’s about easy city living. Hop on, select one of the three power modes, and pedal. Immediately you’ll feel the motor getting to work. You whizz along at up to 15.5mph (the legal limit). The bike handles in the same, nippy, compulsive way Bromptons always have – but now those hills are a doddle. And don’t ever think you’re cheating.
Floral, friction-free and fast. Cycle shorts to put you on the style podium. Paradisa bike shorts £99, liv-cycling.com
Triathlon Beginners kit guide
This weekend this world’s very toughest and most foolhardy triathletes will come together to display the best in human endurance at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. While you might not quite be ready to take on the mammoth challenge yourself, for those of you starting or considering taking on three sports rather than just one, these triathlon essentials may come in handy.
One of the most popular road racing shoes on the market, the Type A8 has an engineered mesh upper for a dynamic fit while the low profile helps push you to your personal best. At only 167g you’ll feel like you’re flying. Saucony Type A8, £100, saucony.co.uk
Why go to the effort of doing all this training if you can’t also look great. Take your triathlon to the next level with the dhb Blok Short Sleeve Trisuit. Featuring sophisticated, vibrant designs, and a focus on performance, this is perfect for both training and competing. This is an evolution of dhb’s best-selling Active Trisuit. Using dhb’s renowned expertise in cycling, the new short sleeve tri suit is a great choice for your next challenge. Suitable for everyone from beginners to seasoned Triathletes, the suit offers enhanced features and premium fabrics. dhb Blok Short Sleeve Tri Suit Geo Stripe, £85 wiggle.co.uk
This is a great entry level wetsuit at an excellent price. The Proton features everything a triathlete needs. Good range of motion and just the right amount of buoyancy to lift you out of the water and promote a good kick. Finished with a comfortable high collor and slat cut legs for easy removable. Speedo Women’s Fastskin Proton Wetsuit,£87, wiggle.co.uk
Designed for both lengthy training and racing, they combine unobstructed horizontal peripheral view with a low drag profile and comfortable fit. Nike Swim Remora Mirrored Goggle in Silver, £15.79, proswimwear.co.uk
Perfect for protecting your hair and for those moments when you need a little more motivation. The Nike Swim Training Slogan Cap protects your scalp against the harsh effects of chlorine with a durable, hypoallergenic high-stretch silicone material. Nike Swim Slogan Just Do It Cap, £9, wiggle.co.uk
The dhb Elastic Laces provide the wearer with a quick, easy and secure lacing option. Perfect for speeding up transition times, while providing more than adequate stability via the spring loaded locking mechanism. dhb Elastic Lock Laces, £2.50, wiggle.co.uk
Fully adjustable for your own comfort and featuring a quick release toggle, the 2XU Race Belt with Loops makes it dead easy to display your race number during a triathlon, and its low profile design means it won’t be a distraction. 2XU Racebelt With Loops, £8, wiggle.co.uk
A very affordable lightweight helmet that is perfect for beginners. In-mould construction, 15 vents, weight 305g, side lock strap adjusters, detachable peak, dial fitting system, size 60-65cm. Silver helmet, £29.99, raleigh.co.uk
A kit bag essential as you start to pick-up niggles from all the extra training, Biofreeze is a pain relieving cryotherapy gel. Applied to the injured area Biofreeze will reduce skin temperature, reduce blood flow, lessen inflammation and allow the body to repair itself quickly. Biofreeze 118ml Spray, £8.99, boots.com
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