A great bike for those with limited space who want to ride a full-sized bike
700C wheels roll well
Novel folding design
Not as easy as some to carry on public transport
Fixie version is for flatlanders only
By Paul Norman
Montague Bikes was the brainchild of Harry Montague, a 6 foot 2 inch US architect who wanted something which was a better fit for his size than the usual small wheeled folding bikes. Along with his son he founded the bike company in 1988 in Boston, Massachusetts to design and sell folding bikes with larger wheel sizes. There’s a 700C range – the same sized wheels as a normal road bike – and a 26 inch wheeled range too, based on a design used by US paratroops.
>>> Read more: The best folding bikes: a buyer's guide
We have tested the single speed/fixed 700C wheeled Montague Boston model, but if you encounter hills which require a bit more range there’s also an eight speed hub geared version and derailleur geared bikes with up to 30 speeds. The SwissBike range with 26 inch wheels has chunkier tyres and a more off-road feel.
The Montague Boston’s frame is made of aluminium with a steel fork. There are two parallel top tubes to ensure rigidity. These are slightly bowed, which Montague claims helps to dampen road vibration. The design means that the main frame tubes do not have a joint in them, so they are lighter and more robust than a design with a hinge in the frame.
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There’s a quick release on the top tube and a pivot built into the seat tube. Pull up the quick release lever and the rear triangle pivots around the seat tube, so that the whole bike folds to around half its length. The front wheel also needs to be removed to take advantage of this space saving; there’s a nylon strap to fix it to the bike’s top tube.
With single speed gearing the Montague Boston’s components are quite straightforward. There’s an SR Suntour alloy chainset with a 42 tooth chainring. This has a chainguard integrated into the design to help keep chain grease off clothing and legs.
The brakes are Promax dual pivot calipers and there’s a Montague branded saddle with a cut-out mounted on a 27.2mm alloy seatpost. The bike is supplied with alloy platform pedals although there’s the option to buy folding pedals to save a bit of width. You can also buy quick release mudguards to add a bit more protection from the UK weather.
The wheels have Alex alloy rims laced with 36 14-gauge stainless steel spokes to Formula hubs. The rear wheel is bolted on to allow the chain length to be adjusted for the single speed set-up. The hub is a flip-flop design so that the bike can be run either with a freewheel or fixed.
The front wheel uses the same components but runs on a Clix quick release hub, so that the wheel can be quickly removed for storage. The Clix system uses a spring loaded collar to make taking the wheel out very fast, as it removes the requirement to unscrew the quick release lever to get the axle out of the lawyer’s lips on the forks.
Tyres are 28mm Kenda Kwik Roller Sport, which have a wide section and a low profile grip pattern to provide confidence around the town and in damp conditions.
Let’s start with not riding. Folding the Montague Boston is quick and easy. The front wheel is very quick to remove and the quick release on the top tube just needs to be flipped to turn the rear triangle forward. It doesn’t fold flat against the top tube though, as the rear wheel gets in the way, so the folded bike is quite wide.
Slot the rear wheel in between the handlebar and the frame and the whole lot can be held together with the nylon strap around the bars, front wheel and frame. The folded package can be carried around quite easily by the top tube and is stable and reasonably comfortable if a bit heavy. Reversing the process gets the bike ready for action very quickly.
Get aboard and the big wheeled design really comes into its own. The Montague Boston feels super-stable and there’s no evidence of flex in the frame. It’s quite heavy though so it takes a bit of effort to get moving and once there’s more than a gentle gradient the effort level soon mounts, although out of the saddle you can grind up surprisingly steep gradients which would have you reaching for the smaller chainring if this were an option. The ride is comfortable over rough and broken surfaces due to the wide tyres.
The flat bars come up at a comfortable angle and result in a riding position which is not too upright and the rubber grippers are reasonably comfortable for an hour or so without gloves. The supplied brakes are adequate rather than being super-effective; they would probably benefit from a change of pads. I found the Montague’s saddle to be well padded without being too soft and comfortable enough to ride in non-padded shorts.
Montague takes a fresh approach to folding bikes, with a design which may not be super-compact but has benefits in rideability. The larger wheels really do roll much better and give a more familiar ride feel than a smaller wheeled machine.
This is bought at the expense of a rather bulky folded package though. The Montague Boston is a bike which is really useful if your storage space at home is limited and great for transporting in the back of a car, but just that bit ungainly to carry around on the Tube.
For more details visit the Montague website.
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