Can you spot the Paratrooper bicycle? On duty with a bomb removal squad in Iraq.

In honor of Memorial Day in the U.S. (observed yesterday), it seems like a good time to reflect on the connection between Montague bikes and the military.

Besides the fact that many currently deployed service men and women have Montague bikes that they’re riding overseas, the military has been instrumental in the development of Montague’s easy-to-fold bike frame that we all know and love today.

Paratrooper/Paratrooper Jump

The original Montague design was called the BiFrame. Unlike Montague bikes today, the BiFrame closely resembled a traditional double-diamond frame. And instead of a single quick release lever, the original BiFrame had two – one near the seat tube and one down near the bottom bracket. Using concentric seat tubes, the rear triangle could pivot around the seat tube and nest neatly inside the front triangle.

While this design proved popular, in 1997, Montague was awarded a grant through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA – the organization that also pioneered the internet) to develop a folding electric bicycle that could be used by the U.S. Marines and other military personnel. In order to better accommodate the needs of the military, Montague re-evaluated its frame design and further simplified the folding mechanism.

This resulted in a bike that has a beefier top tube with a shorter down tube. While a departure from the double-diamond frame, this new design allows the bike to fold with just a single quick release. It is faster and easier to fold than the original BiFrame models, without compromising control, strength, or safety. Montague also made other design changes that increased the bike’s load-bearing capacity.

Offroad riding with the Paratrooper

Through the improvements in the frame made possible because of the DARPA grant, Montague’s Paratrooper model could be deployed with paratroopers – the bike folded and unfolded so easily, and was small enough to fit through an aircraft door, that soldiers parachuting from an airplane could jump while holding onto the bicycle. After they landed, they simply unfolded the bicycle, and were all set to go, regardless of conditions or terrain.

Building on the success of the DARPA project, in the late 1990s, Montague introduced a Paratrooper model for civilian use. Fifteen years later, it is still one of the most popular models, both with troops deployed overseas as well as the civilian commuter and mountain biker.

For more information about the connection between Montague bikes and the military, you can also check out Jim Fitzpatrick’s excellent book, The Bicycle in Wartime.

Montague would like to take this opportunity to thank the troops for their service, and to remind everyone, whether they’re riding down the street or on the other side of the world, stay safe!