Why is Boating reviewing a bicycle? Well, it folds up so it can be easily stowed away on a boat, giving needed ground transportation at any port.
We hated to box this bike up and send it back but the $1,900 price tag forced our hand. Not that it isn’t worth it. On the contrary, in my few daily commutes to the office and back, it proved its worth. No street bikes I’ve ridden offer an experience so smooth, yet solid.
The mystique begins with the carbon belt drive, an 11-speed internal gear system cranked by a toothed belt, not a greasy, pant leg-eating chain. Shifting was buttery smooth and reliable and there was none of that, awful grinding when skipping a gear or two. Click, click, click and you were three gears higher or lower than a millisecond before. And as we cranked the pedals we noted immediately the lack of “grind” that transmits through the pedals of a chain drive bike. Further, as we jounced down curbs or over potholes, there was no slap or clank or chain sag, inherent with a temperamental derailleur. The drive was so rare, even the bike shop employees drooled over it and lined up for a test drive through their parking lot. If I could, I’d buy the bike just for that.
But then there are the hydraulic disc brakes. We did have a failure on the front brake system, possibly due to an error in assembly by one of the other editors. (I’m not taking the fall for what was handed to me.) But Montague took care of it immediately, in our local bike shop and at no charge. That’s good service and another cool drink to quench the fire of sticker shock. When we were all set, the brakes were the smoothest I’ve ever used on a bike. And they were the most reliable with no grabbing, slipping, squealing—just good smooth, controlled stopping.
A rack over the back wheel carries groceries or a gear. Flip a latch and it rotates beneath the wheel to form a stand for convenient parking. The frame folds easily and smoothly at the flick of another latch, but to get the most compact package, the front wheel has to be removed from the fork. Still, here is another place the engineers gave us a surprise. With so many moving parts in the frame, you would expect it to rattle or wobble a little. Yet it may as well have been a solid frame, so tight was its fit.
If you’re used to schlepping about on a Huffy, the Montague is not for you. But if your tastes run toward the Lexus of bikes, you’ll find the Allston to be a real bargain.