If Brompton ever made a scooter it would be 'different'… but it's no surprise they believe bike is best

We spoke to Brompton's Chief Design and Engineering Officer about some possible future moves in urban mobility

Carrera impel is-1 electric scooter review
(Image credit: Halfords)

Brompton is known for one thing: making folding bikes – plus, more recently, folding electric bikes. However in a recent chat with T3, Brompton's Chief Design and Engineering Officer Will Carleysmith did us the courtesy of conjecturing about some other possible future projects. The obvious rival to the folding bike at the moment is the electric scooter, so I wondered if that was something Brompton might one day branch in to. 

I had a pretty good idea that Will wouldn't exactly leap at the chance to move into this exciting new market – for a start, even the very best electric scooters still aren't strictly legal in the UK, which is Brompton's home turf. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear his views on them. You can read the full Brompton interview if you want more – he also speaks at length about the design challenges of making the titanium Brompton T Line and explains why Brompton is best, when it comes to folding mechanisms and 'Goldilocks' wheel sizes…

Will CarleySmith

(Image credit: Brompton)

Will, pictured above started by mentioning that an electric version of the super-light T Line would be, "A phenomenal product and certainly an interesting thing to look at." The Brompton Electric was quite ahead of its time in terms of some of its systems – the way the motor reacts to your pedalling in a natural way, for instance – and in the years since its launch the brand has gained a lot more expertise in that area. 

As Will says, "E systems and electric are a massive, massive trend… We're really interested in any personal urban transport for cities. We think there's plenty of scope in the Brompton DNA as it is now to do more."

So , as to whether a Brompton electric scooter could ever happen, Will was adamant that, "We wouldn't want to do just a me-too product. Most scooters are the same and we haven't got much interest in doing just another one."

It is true that electric scooters are quite samey but you do get some variety in terms of features and size, folding mechanism – or lack of one. So what would Brompton do different?

"Anything we do, we would look for functionality to be more useful, nicer to use," says Will. E-scooters are "good for very short journeys, one or two miles," and so "replacing walking with scooters can make a lot of sense." 

Brompton T Line

The wheels on a Brompton T Line may be small by bike standards but they're huge compared to a scooter

(Image credit: Brompton)

In making this hypothetical scooter, Will says Brompton would want to "add value through design or technology, or add a point of difference," in order for it to be a worthwhile exercise.  

This could, in theory, mean making a scooter that can go for longer distances than the 1-2 miles Will cites. However, he was very clear that when it comes to longer journeys, bike is best.

"I'm romantic about the experience of riding a bike. I would say it's more engaging, and adds an element of exercise. It's a beautiful thing to have a bike as part of your daily routine – it's exercise for free." Obviously, this is something that you don't get with electric scooters. Will concludes that, "If you want to incorporate exercise, and all the good stuff that comes with that, then I would come back to the bicycle."

So a Brompton electric scooter seems highly unlikely at this point. Even so, it's interesting to think what the brand could do to make the scooting experience more interesting. 

Also, Brompton has to date only ever made variations on its original folding bike theme – unless you count its accessories range. For that reason, it was interesting to hear Will entertaining the idea of Brompton branching out into other areas of urban mobility, electric or otherwise. 

Brompton T Line: price and availability

Brompton T Line

T Line One front/right, T Line Urban rear/left

(Image credit: Brompton)

There are several more affordable Brompton models these days… but the Brompton T Line is not one of them, alas. Nor will it be straightforward to buy, at least at launch. 

• T Line One (single speed, no mudguards, 7.45kg) £3,750, $4,795, €4,360, AU$7,100

• T Line Urban (4-speed gears, mudguards, 7.95kg) £3,950, $4,995, €4,590, AU$7,500

The bike is exclusively available via a ballot system on Brompton.com and through selected Brompton Junction stores in London, New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Paris, the bike will be available in two specifications, each with the option of a low and mid-rise handlebar fit.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."