This company uses 3D printing to make foldable performance bikes
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Convenience cannot be overstated these days. We expect everything to be at the tips of our fingers at all times so we have apps that will deliver food on demand, apps that will pick up and deliver your laundry and dry cleaning, and apps that will track your fitness activity. But actually doing that fitness activity can prove to be very inconvenient. As they say, getting out the door is the hardest part of a workout. Well there’s one company that’s working to make that easier.
Montague Bikes utilizes 3D printing technology to design and create performance bicycles that fold. Yes, you read that right. These aren’t the typical folding bikes with the circus wheels. These are bicycles made for athletes with standard size wheels and all the bells and whistles you could want that conveniently fold up and can be stored in your apartment or trunk of your car.
“We make full size bikes that fold, not folding bikes,” explained David Montague, founding member & president. “You don’t miss out on any of the benefits of high end componentry, but you have the added benefit of being able to take it with you.”
What began as a small project in Harry Montague’s (David’s father) garage in Washington D.C. has developed into a global company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. Nearly three decades later, they have more than 10 models and distribute in 30 countries. In 2010, with consumer interest increasing in road bicycles, they launched their first pavement bike. Then, five years later, a complete overhaul of the folding frame design was done with the help of 3D printing.
The new DirectConnect folding system only requires one quick release on the wheel and one lever on the frame to fold the bike in half. It utilizes various angled services that join each other and automatically lock as the bike unfolds. “The beauty of DirectConnect is that it’s totally hidden,” Montague told me as he described the new system. “It’s tailor-made for its use and it was very valuable to use 3D printing to design the prototype and have something in our hands in a matter of hours or days.”
Working with Shapeways, a 3D printing company out of New York, they printed DirectConnect prototypes in plastic from which they were able to get a sense of scaling and test various elements. Once they got it to a point where it worked, they printed a DirectConnect in aluminum that they could weld to the frame to really test it. “What used to be a months-long process that cost thousands of dollars can now be done in a week for a couple hundred dollars,” Montague expressed.
Along with the new DirectConnect system, Montague Bikes launched a new road bicycle geared specifically towards fitness riders. The FIT bike will ride and perform as well as a comparably priced non-folding bike. And it fits a busy lifestyle, without sacrificing performance. Montague drove home that point when he said, “you have to be able to ride a century and not know your bike was folded.” The FIT will perform as well as any solid frame bike, but the biggest advantage is convenience. When you’re training, you have to make the best use of your time and fit in that training when you can, so having your bike with you can be very important. With the FIT, you can have your bike in your car at all times—and not worry about it getting stolen off your roof rack. Or bring it on trips with you so you can get your training rides in when it’s most convenient for you.
Even if you aren’t training for a distance race, you can take advantage of a healthier way to commute to work with the Park & Pedal program that Montague Bikes introduced last year. Free parking locations near connected bike routes let you add biking to your commute. Not only will a combined commute allow you to maintain an active lifestyle, but it could also save you money as you’ll avoid paying high parking rates, especially in urban areas.
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or rely on your bike to get you around town, the convenience of always having your bike with you is invaluable. Even more vital, though, is how that bike performs. With an emphasis on performance before the convenience of folding, Montague Bikes is revolutionizing the folding bicycle for all cyclists.