Hope everyone had a great Fathers’ Day yesterday. Did you get the chance to get out and ride? Maybe get out and ride with your dad?
I didn’t ride with my dad yesterday, but I did think about him because my dad taught me how to ride a bike. We lived on a steep gravel road, so we made the trip to the local library on weekend afternoons so that I could learn on a flat paved surface. I still fell. And fell. And fell. Until finally I got it. I remember finding my balance and the way everything just clicked. And I yelled “Daddy, I’m doing it!” It was a hand-me-down Strawberry Shortcake bicycle with a pink banana seat and a white basket on the front. I don’t know what that day was like for my dad, but for me, it was life changing.
But dads do more than teach us how to ride bikes. In fact, Montague Corporation was actually founded by a father-son team. In the late 1970s, Harry Montague, an architect by trade, was in the market for a folding bike. Harry led an active lifestyle, but was unable to find a folding bike already on the market that could accommodate his 6’2” stature.
Drawing on design background, Harry came up with a folding mechanism that does not compromise the structural integrity of the frame and that can easily accommodate full-size wheels. He accomplished this by nesting concentric seat tubes inside each other. The resulting frame closely resembled a traditional double-diamond frame, but by releasing two quick release levers in the frame, one at the top of the seat tube and one near the bottom bracket, the rear triangle could pivot around the seat tube and nest neatly inside the front triangle. This design came to be known as the BiFrame, and Harry received his first patent for the technology in the folding mechanism in the early 1980s.
Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Harry distributed a small number of his BiFrame folding bicycles. These first bikes were custom bikes – made to order by local frame builders.
In 1987 David Montague, Harry’s son, was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), finishing up a degree in aerospace engineering. As luck would have it, he was also taking a course titled “New Ventures” at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The final project for the course required him to write a business plan for a new company. David immediately thought of his father’s BiFrame design, and wrote a business plan detailing how to develop production and expand the market for full-size bikes that fold. Inspired by the promise of his business plan, when the course finished up in June of 1987, David and Harry founded Montague Corporation.
From Harry’s drafting table in his Washington D.C. garage to 24 countries around the world, Montague Corporation has expanded greatly from David Montague’s business plan project at MIT. What started as a family business is now helping to change the face of urban transportation.