The Ride: Bicycles in War
With the origins of the bicycle variously credited to German, British and French inventors, the industrial East Coast was the first part of the country to see early models and to enter the manufacturing fray. Consequently, East Coast firms inaugurated the practice of equipping battalions with military bicycles. That trend continues today.

Today, the Montague Corporation designs full-size folding mountain bikes for the US military from its headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. David Montague, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, formed the company in 1987 in order to produce folding bicycles that his father invented in his garage.

In 1997, Montague won a two year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work with the United States Marines to develop an electric mountain bike that would produce no heat signature recordable on enemy equipment. For this project Montague developed a new folding design which would allow the frame to fold quicker while also increasing its load bearing capacity. The result was the Paratrooper, a non-electric, high performance mountain bike that could fold to fit though the door of a military aircraft with a paratrooper and be unfolded quickly upon hitting the ground.

“When a soldier hits the ground, he or she has a tactical mountain bike to use as transportation, thereby bridging the gap between walking and deploying heavy military vehicles,” reports Montague in their company literature. “This not only aids in transportation but it helps to facilitate battlefield reporting as well.”

The Paratrooper can traverse terrain silently at high speeds with no thermal or acoustic radar signature. It offers up to 500 pounds of load hauling capability plus off-body load bearing. Built of aircraft aluminum in Taiwan, the Paratrooper can compact in less than 30 seconds to a portable size (3’x3’x1’, 29lbs.) via single pivot around seat post.

In 1999 the company released a 24-speed aluminum mountain bike and comfort bike based on the original military bike but designed for civilian use. The Paratrooper has also become available for professional and civilian use. Visit their site at www.montagueco.com.

ADVANCED MOBILITY