Hello folding bike:
What’s in a name? Or a symbol for that matter? How about a head badge? Some sort of heraldry?
Way Back When
Human beings have been using symbols as signs of solidarity for millennia. From before Roman times when military units could be distinguished by the emblems on their shields, we look back and see symbols equating identity. Over the millennia these advanced into family crests and the like seen in the Middle Ages; coats of arms, standards, ensigns: heraldry specific to a particular family, ruling seat, tribe, region, or nation. We practice it today with our national flags and corporate logos. These graphic representations help us to identify what we seek, what we identify with; without necessitating the use of words. Sometimes they gain a power all their own.
The Great Warhorse
On the battlefield for hundreds of years, in the places where people fought on horseback, it was common to have a standard bearer – often the lead man on a horse with a great waving flag with the symbol of that group (e.g. kingdom, tribe, duchy, etc. – one could go on and on). In the long days before wireless communication on the battlefield, you had to know where your troops were somehow – and the standard was just as important for group identity and pride as it was for survival – you knew who and where your allies were by their colors. (Similarly, of course, with flying colors in naval warfare and paint identification in early flight.)
Symbols attached to victory and defeat, attached to life and death, attached to faith. With all of these profound undercurrents, it is no wonder why we continue to use and place so much import on symbols today. In modern times corporations invest great funds to create and maintain their graphic identities, i.e. their logos. These are economically powerful things.
Although very few of us now ride horses to get around at all, much less in battle – symbolic heraldry continues on our modern steeds, our bicycles. Enter, the head badge. Our current Montague headbadge is shown above, depicting the folded glory itself. If one were to blazon bicycle headbadges one would probably not find the kind of consensus and authority which describe historic royal and national heraldry.
But what you do find are symbols that reflect the nation, the times, as well as the personalities and values of the individuals who made and make these bicycles. At times a community will adopt a devotion to a certain brand or product, and then carry this as their banner. Individuals will wear the symbol even when not in the company of their bicycle. In situations like this the head badge returns to it’s heraldic roots, symbolizing a greater solidarity and mission. In the face of sometime unfriendly streets, the head badge can be the banner of commitment to cycling as a way of life. And sometimes it’s just a logo.
In 1997 Montague bikes returned to the roots of heraldry – military service. That year Montague received a two-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work with the U. S. Marines to develop the the Tactical Electric No Signature (TENS) Mountain bike. (Which eventual lead to the much loved descendant – the Paratrooper.) Our bikes have proudly served this nation.
Some ride to belong, some ride to be set apart. In a world teaming with standardization some seek to move creatively beyond. Our bikes are the only customizable folding bikes on the market – they don’t restrict you. And in our beautiful city, as well as others – if what comes standard doesn’t suit you there’s custom painting, such as Boston’s own Sugar Coat. There are even custom head badges, such as our town’s own FutureCrash. Be part of a team or fly your own flag, wear it proudly – we salute you!