Designed by the company that David Montague founded in 1987 while he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the M-E1 bicycle is the newest iteration of a design that earned him a contract in 1997 to build folding electric bicycles for the U.S. Marine Corps, and later a non-electric version called the Paratrooper. Montague Bikes later worked with General Motors Co. to design a Hummer Tactical Mountain Bike that folds to fit in the back of an H2.
The M-E1 combines a full-size, folding frame; high-end components including hydraulic disc brakes; and a 250-watt electric motor paired with a battery large enough to power nearly 50 miles of pedal assistance. Two stats to consider: It is not an inexpensive bicycle, at $3,599, and it weighs 55.2 pounds, according to a detailed video report by ElectricBikeReview.com. (The removable battery accounts for 5 pounds of that total, a company spokesman noted in an email, which somewhat improves its aircraft weight-and-balance compatibility.)
The upsides are noteworthy, including an easy-folding design and a forked kickstand that allows the bike to be folded without being lifted. It can also be rolled while folded.
“We set out to build an electric bike that can go where others cannot. Pilots, travelers, and so many outdoor enthusiasts have been deterred from owning an e-bike due to space constraints and a lack of portability with the current designs,” Montague said in a news release. “The M-E1 offers pilots a compact folding design for easy storage that unfolds in seconds to deliver a full-sized electric bike to take them anywhere they want to go. Pilots need an e-bike that can handle the trails in the remote areas they fly to, and still stow in a tight space at the end of the day. Small wheel folding bikes won’t cut it, but the M-E1 can do it all.”
Rated for a maximum motor-assisted speed of 20 mph (according to ElectricBikeReview.com), the M-E1 can be used on bike paths where faster electric bicycles and mopeds may be prohibited.
Depending on available useful load (in literal as well as financial terms), the M-E1 may lure a few pilots away from airport courtesy cars or other ground transportation options.