It was way back in 2017 when we bought Brompton fold-up bikes and they have proved to be a good investment over the years. We have cycled all over the UK with them. If you are interested in what model we bought, have a look at this link “Bowen bought a beautiful blue-black Brompton Bike back in July 2017“. They are truly awesome fold-up bikes, built for comfort, but since that time the world has moved on a lot, some of us are getting older and hill wiser 😉 and now the next best thing is a fold-up electric bike.
Since moving to Surrey, we haven’t cycled as much as we want to because we are surrounded by beautiful hills with stunning views and it has proved frustrating walking up a hill pushing our Bromptons. Therefore a plan was hatched to improve that situation.
What can one get for £6400?
Brompton does do an electric bike with a crazy selling price. We checked out the same spec fold-up bike we got back in July 2017, and it would set us back a minimum of £6400, and even more, if we changed the seat for a leather one, and added a carrier rack or a bigger bag on the front. They are good bikes but they are not worth that sort of money.
Nano Electric bikes to the rescue.
I shopped around for alternatives and found a British company called Nano Electric Bikes who sells a kit for £890. They also had loads of reviews and there are some videos on Youtube.
It consists of a replacement front rim with a built-in motor, a 36V tool battery that sits comfortably in the front bag and there is a controller and some wiring. Their kit can also be installed at home and comes with a book of instructions.
We opted for the self-installation because it was a saving of £200, but I won’t lie, it was not easy following the instructions even though they were nicely written out with photos. I put this down to the lack of experience of changing parts on our Brompton bikes. The fact of the matter is we’ve never had to change a tyre or loosen the brakes or adjust anything major on the bike because we get them serviced every year, which takes that hassle away.
It took me ages to get the tyre replaced onto the new wheel frame and I had to do it twice because I discovered I had put the wheel on the wrong way. Apparently, there is a certain direction the wheel must face on the wheel rim. The one thing I can say is that the Brompton YouTube community is massive and there are tons of videos showing how to do stuff, which is how I managed to sort out the difficult or confusing steps.
After a couple of days of tinkering my bike was ready. Not surprising, Jo’s bike took a couple of hours to sort out, as I knew exactly what tools to use, where to file or widen the forks etc. There were a few subtle differences, which I found to be quite odd, for example, the wheel forks didn’t need widening on Jo’s bike, whereas mine did, despite both bikes being made at the exact time.
What we opted for in the Nano Accessories:
- Throttle – we choose a twist grip like on a motor bike instead of a Thumb throttle. This is because the handle bars play a role in the choice. If the bike is pre-2017 or thereabouts the throttle works best on the right side.
- Display – it was fitted to the left side or left grip.
- Bag – We already had O bags and thus sent the bags to Nano, who kindly fitted the in-bag battery wiring.
- Battery – We opted for the In Bag 6Ah Honda battery. This has a range of 12 to 24 miles. It weighs the same as the 4Ah battery at 1.3kh. It fits in the O bag easily and there is enough space for jackets or cameras etc.
- £890 – Nano kit with 6Ah battery, adapter, charger, motor, pedal/brake sensor and throttle or button display.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the electrics solves all your hill problems. Yes, it is a lot easier to ride up a hill, but one still has to peddle, whether in low or high gear and if you stop, it takes quite an effort to start again given the extra weight on the front wheel.
The Nano kit has added an extra 2.5kg to the weight of the bike, on top of the 11kg bike weight. The weight is mostly in front of the handlebars, coming from the motor in the drum on the front wheel and also in the battery, which sits in the bag attached to the front of the handlebars. The weight is noticeable on flat surfaces and a bit more effort is involved. One is also less aerodynamic with a bag on the front of the bike.
The throttle or acceleration is limited to 15mph, therefore is it only good for a boost, the rest you’ll have to provide yourself. The nano cuts off automatically when the speed reaches 15mph.
The battery if used sensibly can extend your bike rides a lot further to places that were inaccessible in the past. This has been the greatest advantage to date. Jo and I have cycled up hills that we would only be driven up in our car. The fact that the bike can now get to these places has been a game-changer and has made the Bromptons even more useful than before.
I highly recommend Nano Electric bikes. Do check them out.