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Best Of Design Lifestyle 19. September 2023

„Kompakt, leicht, Brompton“ – Im Gespräch mit Brompton-Chefdesigner Will Carleysmith

Bereits im Sommer 2017 feierte das Brompton Electric seine Weltpremiere auf der Fahrradmesse Eurobike am Bodensee. Doch dann kam immer wieder etwas dazwischen. 2019 war es dann soweit und das erste Pedelec von Brompton kam auf den Markt.

Seit Mitte diesen Jahres fahren wir selbst ein Brompton Electric C Line und sind mehr als begeistert. Und haben uns seitdem einige Fragen gestellt. Die Antworten darauf hatte Brompton-Chefdesigner Will Carleysmith.

The mobility change is in full swing. What else needs to happen that people rather take their bikes instead of cars especially in big cities?

We find the biggest enabler is just getting people on bikes to experience how convenient and fun cycling in a city actually is versus what they might have as a preconception. Things that support this include hire schemes, retail spaces that have broad appeal rather than focusing on the hardcore cyclist and the experience of seeing people that look like you using a bike, either online or on the street. Beyond this we know safety and the perception of safety is critical and infrastructure is key. Cities that are bold in creating space for active travel will become healthier, happier and cleaner.

We are Brompton lovers and excited that you launched an e-bike some years ago. How long did the development of the e-bike take?

We wanted to build this product for a very long time but it took a while to get the right technology partners in place. Once we had the right partnerships it took around two years of R&D to design the system and another two years to develop the supply chain and production processes.

© Brompton

Brompton created its very own motor. Would it not have been easier to ask one of the big electric specialists on the market to help out?

It might, but they were not up for it! To achieve the compact Brompton fold, which was a non-negotiable for us, we needed a very compact electric system tailored to our bike. The big electric specialists build systems for full-size bikes and are focused on that form factor. The need to preserve that super-compact fold drove us down the route of developing a bespoke system.

While designing your e-bike what kind of cycler did you have in mind? Is the e-bike cycler the same as the regular Brompton cycler?

We built an e-bike for someone that wants or needs all the classic electric bike attributes of being able to ride further, get to their destination fresh or deal with challenging terrain but is dealing with the constraints or urban living. This could include a need to easily combine the bike with public transport, store the bike in a compact home or avoid leaving an expensive bike on the street at risk of theft.

Have you ever thought of expanding your assortment towards family bikes?

We are interested in any bike products that make travelling in a city more convenient, flexible, and enjoyable. That includes all use-cases. As part of a family with two children living in London finding solutions for making raising kids in cities simpler, healthier and even more fun is certainly something I think about.

© Brompton

Do you think the majority of people will switch to e-bikes instead of regular bikes in the future?

We think for us there will always be mix between the two, we know our users have many different reasons for choosing Brompton. We see the proportion of our e-bike sales growing as people learn about the benefits of e-bikes in emerging markets and we continue to improve the products. As our bike has a removable battery and low drag we also see people using our e- bike in both ways. Perhaps electrically assisted for commuting and as a regular bike at the weekend.

Brompton stands for mobility and easy handling. An e-bike is not exactly a light vehicle. Are you still working on the weight of the e-bike to make them even more easy to handle?

Absolutely, the more portable we can make our bike the wider the appeal will be. Last year we launched the Electric P Line which uses lightweight parts including a titanium rear frame to bring the ‘carry weight’ (excluding the removable battery) down to 12.7kg. We are continuing to invest in technology that will allow us to further reduce the weight of our e-bikes. We see lightweight, portable, compact electric bikes as a big part of the solution for transport in cities in the future.

© Brompton

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