Article: Montague Paratrooper Folding Bike

#1
I've been using folding bikes with varying degrees of satisfaction for a few years now. As I do much of my hillwalking using the rail system it makes sense to have a folding bike as once folded they are (in general, and certainly throughout Scotland) treated as luggage, rather than a bike, and while there are restrictions on bikes, there are none on luggage. A few years back I arrived at Dalwhinnie station to await the southbound train. Shortly after two other cyclists arrived and I asked if they had cycle reservations, which they hadn't. The trains on the Perth line are limited to two bikes, and there were three of us. When the train arrived the guard refused to allow them on board, despite the fact they would have to cycle all the way to Perth! After a hard day when you are cold and wet that's the last thing you need.

Since then I've gone through a variety of folding bikes, however most are aimed strictly at the commuting market. There are probably as many Bromptons in London as there are rats nowadays! There aren't that many folding mountain bikes the go though, but one that caught my eye was the Montague Paratrooper.



"It's claimed it was designed for the US military and will can be deployed by parachute or helicopter. Having access to none of those I'll take their word for it. I do have access to the mountains of Scotland and have been giving it a good workout, on and off road. It is a full size mountain bike, with 26” wheels, adjustable front suspension, 24 speed Shimano gears and front and rear disc brakes and comes in matt green.



It comes boxed and Montague were good enough to throw I a bike bag for it. It required little assembly, needing only to have one pedal fitted, along with one wheel and the seat. If you are happy adjusting brakes, gears and the like you should be able to set it up yourself, otherwise you may want to let a bike shop give it a check over for you. I had to adjust the brakes slightly but the gears were perfect straight from the box. I had a few niggles with the pedals, though that was my fault, and once tightened properly they have fine. The pedals are not of the folding variety. Montague do sell folding pedals but I have never found this type of pedal to be particularly robust, and it's unlikely it will give that much of a reduction in bike width when folded.



Folding the bike is straightforward and quick. Open the quick release latch on the front wheel, flick the Clik safety release, and the front wheel is off. Open the catch on the top tube, press down and with a slight pressure the frame opens. It's that simple. You can additionally lower the seat, the whole operation taking easily under a minute. To re-assemble, just reverse the procedure. I find it easiest to replace the front wheel while facing the bike. The bike can be stowed in the bag for transport and this provides a good way of carrying it without getting oil and muck all over other people luggage. I was very impressed with the fact the strap goes into the bag and secures onto the frame of the bike. That negates any worries of the stitching on a sewn strap giving way. I can unfold the bike from the bag and assemble it ready for use in around two minutes.



I've found it to be solid enough in use, and had no concerns that the bike may 'open' while traversing rough ground. The pedals have a great chunky grip, as have the handlebars. The thumb controlled trigger shift gears are well positioned, easy to see and index easily.



My only gripe is that the handlebars are quite narrow. For a bike designed for the military, where guys tend to be big and broad, it's perhaps surprising, although making it bigger would of course increase packed size and weight).
All the replaceable parts such as tyres, gears, brakes, are of the standard type you can pick up in any bike shop, so repairs and servicing can be done easily by you or any bike tech.



Retailing around £799 this is not a cheap and cheerful bike, but one to seriously consider for off road use where a folding capability is required. It folds down to a reasonable size and should when folded fit into a reasonably sized car boot.

Bike
Weight (claimed): 29lbs
Weight (actual): 33lbs (15kg)
Cost: £799 rrp.
Claimed Dimensions (Folded): 36”x28”x12”
Dimensions (Folded): 36”x30”x15”

Carry Bag
Dimensions: 36”x28”x12”
Weight: 810g
Price: £99 (offers sometimes available- check the small print on the website).
 
#3
Unfortunately the Cycle To Work scheme doesn't extend to ebay...
 
#4
I would not suggest anyone buys such a bike for off road use. If you want a bike for off-road use that breaks down, you need to pay real money and get S&S couplings built into a frame. £800 could buy you a lighter, better specced and far more durable bike than this that would give you a far more reliable and durable ride. A gimmick frame that was never adopted after trials.
 
#5
All bicycles fold, as do their riders, when you run over them in your G-Wagen.
Just saying.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#7
From Honest Abe's Midnight Sales ?
 
#8
Genuine question. Were you given this to review? Or did you actually spend £800 for it?

I wouldn't buy it myself as I don't need a folding bike. And I don't think their is a need for the "military" paint job. I'd feel embarrassed to ride that anywhere I could be seen.
 
#9
If I was given the bike to review I'd say so. Pretty sure I mentioned I
got it using cycle to work scheme, so I won't be paying the full £799.
 
#10
The spec looks pretty pants cable disc brakes and basic delore drive train on an 800 quid bike! What's the spec of the front shock? You could get a Forme stag with better spec for nearly £300 less and when the wheels are off is a small frame. If you only need a folding bike due to getting it on the train just use your bike bag and take the wheels off the bike becomes luggage then. I wouldnt even like to take that off the road without the fear if it giving way and doing some damage.
 
#11
I would not suggest anyone buys such a bike for off road use. If you want a bike for off-road use that breaks down, you need to pay real money and get S&S couplings built into a frame. £800 could buy you a lighter, better specced and far more durable bike than this that would give you a far more reliable and durable ride. A gimmick frame that was never adopted after trials.
In your use of the bike did you find that the mechanism was weak or faulty? I've not had any problems with it.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
no piccatinny rails for lights and lasers, m4 mounting clips or a bayonet fitting. I'll wait for the mk2
 
#14
£50 on ebay gets you a folding Raleigh shopper and a pair of 20" wheels off a BMX bike. They even come in a olive green colour.
Smaller, lighter and probably better offroad than this thing.
 
#15
I would not suggest anyone buys such a bike for off road use. If you want a bike for off-road use that breaks down, you need to pay real money and get S&S couplings built into a frame. £800 could buy you a lighter, better specced and far more durable bike than this that would give you a far more reliable and durable ride. A gimmick frame that was never adopted after trials.
It seems they couldn't do proper trials with them!

From Wiki:
The folding Montague Paratroopers were issued on a test basis for a very short time, and withdrawn from service due to rampant theft issues within the units that they were issued to. MCX and AAFES continue to sell the bicycles as authorized equipment items but often proved to be the less convenient source for the bikes since many of the regular dealers have proven eager to ship the bikes to deployed troops overseas. While several other makes and models have been used by European troops, the Montague Paratrooper has been the most popular among US troops and sought after by others.
this linky might have more
HTML:
http://www.combatreform.org/atb.htm
 
#16
"In your use of the bike did you find that the mechanism was weak or faulty? I've not had any problems with it."

I've never used one. A friend had one and I gave it a good thrashing - or as good as I dared without breaking his pride and joy. It is not that well engineered, the frame is an intrinsically poor design, the components low quality and the folding aspect is not well built.

It is not designed to take a beating like a proper mountain bike. You don't see proper mountain bikes designed like that for a reason - it does not cope with the fatigue very well.

I'm a qualified and experienced mountain bike leader with a lot of experience of bikes. If I want a mountain bike, I'll buy one. If I want a bike for travelling, I'll probably get one with S&S fittings in the frame. If I want a folding bike, I'll get a Brompton or something.

As I said - it is a gimmick. It looks sort-of-mountain-bike-ish, but it is a folding bike. Mountain bikes don't fold by design because they need strength, and this design doesn't give that. There are much better folding bikes and travelling by train with a bike is not that difficult to do. I wish you well with it, but it ticks none of the boxes well that it claims to.
 
#20
"In your use of the bike did you find that the mechanism was weak or faulty? I've not had any problems with it."

I've never used one. A friend had one and I gave it a good thrashing - or as good as I dared without breaking his pride and joy. It is not that well engineered, the frame is an intrinsically poor design, the components low quality and the folding aspect is not well built.

It is not designed to take a beating like a proper mountain bike. You don't see proper mountain bikes designed like that for a reason - it does not cope with the fatigue very well.

I'm a qualified and experienced mountain bike leader with a lot of experience of bikes. If I want a mountain bike, I'll buy one. If I want a bike for travelling, I'll probably get one with S&S fittings in the frame. If I want a folding bike, I'll get a Brompton or something.

As I said - it is a gimmick. It looks sort-of-mountain-bike-ish, but it is a folding bike. Mountain bikes don't fold by design because they need strength, and this design doesn't give that. There are much better folding bikes and travelling by train with a bike is not that difficult to do. I wish you well with it, but it ticks none of the boxes well that it claims to.
If you've never used one can you really say it's unfit for purpose? From what I can gather the bike itself didn't fail the trials but was a succesful design which was not adopted for reasons unrelated to it's reliability. In fact, it's high theft rate would indicate a level of end user satisfaction...
I agree you could buy a "proper" mountain bike and have S&S fittings added, but you are then looking at adding £500 upwards to the cost of the bike. If you want an "off the shelf" option, I'd say this does tick the boxes, for me anyway.
 
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