So it is with the Montague Paratrooper (now called the Montague Paratrooper Express) that began my appreciation for folding bikes… My father years back had been looking to purchase a bike for himself and decided that a folding bike would allow him to easily travel with the bike without the necessity of a bike rack. He was not the type that would consider riding a smaller wheeled folding bike so during his research he came across the folding bike company Montague that produced 26-inch folding bikes. I am sure he was also drawn to the Paratrooper model since he had spent time in the service. I am not certain how much he actually rode his folding bike but over the years the Montague Paratrooper eventually came into my possession.
At first, I have to be honest a folding bike was not my “thing” as I was attached to my Trek mountain bike. With all the trails around our area and the ease of portability, I started storing the foldable Paratrooper in the back of my SUV and was always ready to ride. This versatility is what got me interested in folding bikes but how well they ride is what really got me hooked.
History of Montague Bikes
Montague Corporation was founded in 1987 by M.I.T. graduate David Montague whose goal was to produce the best full-sized folding bikes. Their first design was called “BiFrame” and by 1997 they were developing folding bikes for the military to assist with faster folding bikes for aircraft exits during military action. This design ultimately became the Paratrooper.
Over the years Montague Corporation has continued to work on improving the design and function of their folding bikes and in 2016 they added to their bike line up new framesets, 27.5″ wheels, disc brakes, internal gear hubs, and an optional belt drive system.
Montague Paratrooper Riding Performance
The riding performance of the Montague Paratrooper is top notch. The Paratrooper folding bike rides and handles like any other 26 inch full-sized mountain bike. In fact, I don’t even notice a difference between this folding bike and my Trek 820 mountain bike (which I have since given away). Whether on trails or pavement the Montague Paratrooper is a quality-built folding bike and worth its price.
While I do own the older version I do like all the upgraded features of the Montague Paratrooper Express. To handle both the street and trails it is commended that they upgraded from a rigid front fork to an SR Suntour suspension fork. This suspension fork lessens the need for a suspension seat post that came on the original Paratrooper.
The folding mechanism on the frame has been improved in design (removed the quick release lever from the top of the frame), locking strength, and speed to lock/unlock.
While the Paratrooper was a 21-speed with twist shifters the Paratrooper Express is now 18-speeds with trigger shifters which is a better gear setup. The Paratrooper Express no longer uses an adjustable stem probably due to their 16″, 18″ and 20″ frame options (and possible added expense).
Lastly, the Montague Paratrooper Express still does not come equipped with folding pedals, but at least you can purchase them and a carrying bag from their website.
How Does the Montague Paratrooper Fold
The Montague Paratrooper with its 26-inch wheels does not fold like a typical 20-inch wheel folding bike or even a Birdy. To start the folding process you need to release the V-brake on the front fork so that you can release the front wheel using the quick release lever on the front axle. While not too difficult it can get messy depending upon the dirt level of your tires. Once the front wheel is removed (and you have set the tire down somewhere) you need to hold the frame while undoing the quick release lever on the top of the frame. Pushing down the quick release lever releases the middle latch and you can then fold the bike in half. From this point, you can lower the seat (with a quick release as well) then turn the handlebars sideways to lay the bike down flat.
While these folding steps do take longer than how you fold other folding bikes you do get used to it rather quickly.
So here were some of my challenges to the way a Montague Paratrooper folds. First, I do not like always releasing both the front v-brake as well as the front tire. It becomes a hassle over time especially when needing to put the front brake and tire back on to reassemble. As mentioned above, depending on the dirt level of the tires your hands will get dirty handling the front tire as well. The bike also is not equipped with a clip for the front tire to secure to the frame once the bike is folded. My older model does not have folding pedals so the bike basically lays on the pedal which is an issue in the back of a car.
My other two issues revolve around the front sprocket. The Montague Paratrooper does not come with a bottom resting bracket like you find on folding electric bikes so there is no way to stand the bike up in the folded position and I do not wish to lean the bike on the crank arm. The front sprocket also does not have a guard protector. While this is not a problem when biking the sharp teeth of the sprocket can really do some damage to the inside of a trunk. You also have to be careful when moving the bike while folded.
Again, these folding issues are all personal opinions, and not a deal breaker to buying a Paratrooper Express, as the Montague Corporation has been around for over 30 years supplying the marketplace with high performance, full-sized folding bikes.
Montague Paratrooper Express Pricing and Specs
The Montague Paratrooper Express is currently priced at $759 USD. During the checkout process, the Montague website did provide a shipping module that calculated a freight charge for the Paratrooper Express (more expensive models did not include a shipping charge). Current estimated time until shipping is 1 week. Montague provides a lifetime frame warranty and a 1-year warranty on all other original parts. The main features are as follows:
FRAMESET 6061 Series Aluminum with DirectConnect folding system
FORKS SR Suntour Suspension. 63mm travel. Alloy
SHIFTER Shimano Tourney trigger shifters, Shimano Tourney Front and Rear Derailleur
CRANKSET SR Suntour 42/34/24. 170mm crank arm
REAR COGS 14-28T
RIMS 26” Alloy, 32 hole. Black with CNC sidewall. 14 Gauge Stainless spokes.
TIRES Kenda Kwik multi-sport 26″ x 1.95″
HANDLEBARS Flat bar with backsweep 580mm length
BRAKES Tektro Alloy V-Brakes. Alloy Levers
PEDALS Trekking pedal with all-weather non-slip tread
SEAT Aero Mountain
FOLDED DIMENSIONS 36” x 28” x 12”
WEIGHT 32 lbs