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Compare Folding Electric Bikes Without Throttle

Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0 vs Brompton E-Bike H6L/M6L

Electric bikes have become very popular in recent years and it is easy to find hundreds of different models available to select from. This review is focused on two Pedelec or EPAC, which is pedal-assisted but without hand throttle.

What is Pedelec or EPAC?

A pedelec (from pedal electric cycle) or EPAC (Electronically Power Assisted Cycles), is a low powered electric bicycle where the rider’s pedalling is assisted (aka “pedal-assisted”) by a small electric motor; Most Pedelecs specify 250W motor, but it can delivery up to 500W (36V x 15A) of power. An electronic controller is introduced to cut the power to the motor when the rider is not pedalling or when the max speed of 25km/h is reached.

What is pedal assisted and throttle?

Pedal-assisted means that the motor will be activated only if you are pedalling. The motor will help to reduce the cycling effort, and not totally replace your pedalling.

Hand throttle is a device allowing you to control the motor speed by hand without the need to pedal. It works just like the hand throttle on existing motorbikes. The throttle has been completely banned in several countries, while others have limited the speed to 6km/h when pedal-assisted with throttle (see Electric Bike Law).

Some countries completely ban throttles because they can be illegally modified to exceed 6km/h, and is very difficult to police such modifications.

What is the usual racing bicycle speed?

Racing cyclist typically ride at least 35 – 40km/h, while professionals can achieve higher than that depending in the gradient. So 25 km/h is about touring or leisure cycling speed, which is suitable and safer for most users.

Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0

The Hummingbird is produced by Prodrive, the same company that make the bodies for sports cars such as Aston Martin.

Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0 Advantages

  • Weight.
    • The Hummingbird was touted as the lightest Electrical bicycle in the world at 10.3kg. We have yet to find another E-Bike that could match this weight target.
    • The use of carbon fibre frame helps to lower the weight, in addition to providing strong support and stiffness to the overall structure. Carbon fibre is a popular material for high end racing bikes for decades.
    • The fork, handlebar, and seatpost are also using carbon fibre material.
    • There is also significant weight saving as it is single speed. There is no rear derailer and just one gear cog on the rear wheel.
  • Safety Activation.
    • The Hummingbird does not have any power on or off switch. In order for the motor to start the pedal assist:
      • Manually spin the bike until it reaches at least 8km/h.
      • When it is 8km/h, spin the crank backwards 3 cycles.
  • Folding.
    • The folding size of the Hummingbird is quite small at 117x20x60cm, but this is not the most compact E-bikes available. The Brompton Electric Bike is more compact as explained below.
    • Hummingbird folds differently from most folding bikes. When unlocked, the rear wheel swings underneath instead of sideways.
Hummingbird Folded
Hummingbird Folded

 

  •  As the pivoting point is at the bottom bracket, the chain length will remain the same as the bike is folded, and hence it does not require a chain tensioner (rear derailer). This allows the bike to use single speed rear cog.

    • The folding time of 5 seconds is with practice. Normally it can take up to 10 seconds.
  • Smartphone App Support.
    • There is a smartphone app available that can be connected to the Bike’s motor. The bike can be registered via the app, and the dashboard has the following function.
      • Bike SPEED [Km/h] or [mi/h]
      • Total ODO [Km] or [mi]
      • Partial ODO [km] or [mi]
      • Motor Power [W]
      • State of charge of the battery [%]
      • Warning icon
    • Smartphone holder is sold separately. At this time, it cost about US$30.
  • Electronic Lock Function.
    • The Hummingbird Electrical Bike can be set to lock which will cause the motor to apply resistance to anyone who attempt to spin the crank.
    • The lock can be activated as long as the battery is above 20% and speed is 0 km/h.
    • The lock works even if the phone is disconnected from the bike. To unlock, simple connect the phone to the bike again.
    • When a smartphone is connected, the system will stay active for 10 minutes. If the bike is electronically locked, the system will stay active as long as possible
  • Quick Release Pedal.
    • Pedals with sealed bearings are easily removed by quick release.

Disadvantages

    • The lower battery capacity translates to a lower 50km max range as compared to the other two with larger battery capacity.
    • It is pedal-assisted but only comes with single speed.
Hummingbird Charging
Hummingbird Charging

Conclusion for the Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0

The price of $6,230 could be out of reach for many who need to take Subway to commute to work. The most attractive advantage of Hummingbird is the 10.3kg lightweight which will benefit stairs climbing.

The safety power on feature, folding method, phone app, and E-lock are innovative, however, do not justify for such a high cost. The cost-benefit ratio is on the high side, but it is not easy to find another E-bike to match at the same price. There will be tradeoff if we pick a cheaper alternative to the Hummingbird.

Hummingbird warranty commences from the date of purchase. The frame and swing arm components manufactured through Prodrive are covered for 5 years. Other non-wearing parts are covered for 1 year. The battery and motor on the Electric comes with a 2 year warranty.

Final conclusion: First choice to buy – if you can afford it.

Also see: Hummingbird review on Youtube

Brompton E-Bike H6L

Brompton E-Bike integrates electric motor and battery onto their existing non-electric version of the bike. The “H” refers to a taller handlebar stem, “6” refers to 6 speed, and “L” means that this model has mudguard. The “M” in M6L will mean a medium height handlebar stem, and “S” is for short handlebar stem.

As shown in the photo below, the removable battery is located in front of the bike.

Brompton Electric Bike H6L
Brompton Electric Bike H6L

Brompton E-Bike H6L Advantages

  • Very Compact Size.
    • The Brompton E-Bike H6L has the smaller folded form factor of 0.1m2, and occupies 40% less space than the Hummingbird.
    • It folds the rear wheel under the frame like the Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0. However, the front wheels are also folded backwards making it even more compact.
Brompton H6L Folded
Brompton H6L Folded

Youtube – How to Fold and Unfold Brompton E-Bike

  • Longer Warranty Period.
    • The Brompton’s warranty period of 7 years (after registering at Brompton) is based on the following conditions:
      • Only the main frame component is covered under 7 year warranty.
      • All other non-wear components are covered under 2-year warranty only.
        • Excluded from Warranty:
          • Battery is not included under the warranty unless it leaks during initial delivery.
          • All other components that are subjected to wear and tear.
      • So the warranty is mainly valid for defective non-wear item.
  • 6-Speed.
    • 6-Speed option provides the gear ratio to help push the max. range to 70km.
    • Pedelecs are pedal-assisted, so additional speed options are easier for the rider for different gradients.
  • Removable battery unit for separate charging.
    • This means that you can buy a second battery as a spare backup for longer trip, or use them or alternate days to ensure that a full charged battery is always available. For the Brompton, the 2.9kg battery is removable with just one-click and has a 5V 1.5A USB port.
    • Included 2A battery charger takes 4 hours to fully charge, while an optional 4A charger can do it in just 2 hours.
    • Power On/Off Buttons. The buttons are located on the battery in front of the handle and is easy to reach.
    • USB Port (5V, 1.5A) on battery can be used to charge rider’s devices, as long as it does not fall off.

  • Longer Range Per Charge.
    • The maximum range of the Brompton E-Bike H6L is up to 70km, which is 40% more than Hummingbird’s max range.
  • Folding Time.
    • The Brompton’s folding time is almost same as Hummingbird’s 5s, with practice.

Disadvantages

  • Frame Material. Brompton uses steel frame instead of the more exotic material cabon fibre, titanium, and 6061 or 7000 series aluminum. When steel is scratched and exposed, they will rust in due course. So the first critical issue (marked X) in our review below is the frame material.
  • 50% heavier than the Hummingbird E-Bike.
  • Battery pack is hanging on a bag in front of the handlebar. This means we cannot hang a bag in front to put our things.

Conclusion for Brompton E-Bike H6L

The Brompton E-Bike H6L is about 35% (~$2,180) cheaper than the Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0, but a steel frame bike that cost US$4,050 is hard to justify. Among the advantages of Brompton E-Bike H6L, the most attractive is the compact size and longer range.

Brompton E-Bike H6L Youtube Review

Final Score

In our opinion based on our weightage and scoring system below, the difference in score is negligible and is considered a tie.

The choice between the two is a matter of preference (and your wallet size).

In the ideal world, we would have the best features of both bikes combined into one. But in reality, there will be tradeoff as there are features where one is better than the other.

If we can wish to swap one feature on both bikes:

  • We wish that the Hummingbird has a removable, hot swappable battery, and a lower price.
  • We wish the Brompton can switch to more exotic material to lower the weight while maintaining the price if not lower.
Comparison Matrix Hummingbird E-Bike Gen 2.0 Brompton E-Bike H6L
Design Criteria Spec Score Critical Spec Score Critical
General
Frame Material Carbon 42 OK Steel 28 X
Weight 10.3kg 49 OK 15.4kg 35 OK
Front Suspension 16″ 32-349 0 X No 0 X
Rear Suspension 16″ 32-349 0 X No 0 X
Wheel Size 16″ 32-349 30 OK 16″x1.35″ 30 OK
Folded Length 117cm 35 OK 64.5cm 42 OK
Folded Width 20cm 42 OK 27cm 35 OK
Folded Height 60cm 42 OK 58.5cm 42 OK
Folded Volume 0.14m2 35 OK 0.1m2 42 OK
Folding Time 5s 49 OK 20s 35 OK
Roll Folded No 0 X Yes 30 OK
Disc Brake No 0 X No 0 X
Front Chainring 48T 25 OK 50T 25 OK
Speed 1 speed 25 OK 6 speed 30 OK
Power
Motor Power 250W 25 OK 250W 25 OK
Max Range (full batt) 50km 25 OK 70km 25 OK
Battery Capacity 158Wh 25 OK 300Wh 30 OK
Assisted Speed 25km/h 25 OK 25km/h 25 OK
Charging Time 3h 30 OK 4h* 25 OK
Remove & Charge Battery No** 0 X Yes 36 OK
Battery Indicator Yes 35 OK Yes 35 OK
Phone App Yes 30 OK No 0 X
Electronic Locking System Yes 25 OK No 0 X
Price US$6230 21 X US$4050 28 X
Warranty 2 years 35 OK 2-7 years 49 OK
Total Points 650 652

*Brompton E-Bike included 2A charger is 4 hours charging, and optional 4A charger is 2 hours charging.
**Hummingbird Gen 2.0 battery is built-in but can be replaced by a new permanent battery.

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