Montague SwissBike TX£665.00

Hybrid-like folder

BikeRadar score3.5/5

SwissBike’s slogan is ‘the full size bike that folds’, but the speccing of 26in mountain bike wheels on the TX means it's never going to rival the likes of Brompton and Bike Friday for portability.

Bigger wheels come with distinct advantages, though – they roll much better, particularly over poor surfaces, and if you’re getting through the miles the tyres should last longer too. The flipside is that while the SwissBike is dead easy to put it in your car boot or stow it in a flat or caravan, it’s not the ideal one for daily commutes by train.

Best folding bike: buyer's guide

  • Frame & forks: TIG-welded aluminium frame and – probably unnecessary – suspension forks. Tough but overly heavy (7/10)
  • Handling: Full size wheels and 21 gears mean this handles pretty much like a non-folding hybrid (8/10)
  • Equipment: Modestly priced, decent performing kit with SRAM, Suntour and Shimano all in the mix (7/10)
  • Fold: Straightforward and simple fold, but this is designed more for easy storage than daily mixed-mode commuting. Quick-release pedals keep it narrow (6/10)

The fold is simple. Instead of hinging in the main frame or having the rear of the bike fold underneath, the SwissBike folds around its patented concentric seat tube. A quick-release bolt goes through the twin top tubes and keeps everything securely in place. Out comes the front wheel, swing the top tubes around the seat tube and that’s it.

We didn’t find the front wheel quick-release very easy to use, with the disc brakes necessitating an extra level of fiddling. The quick-release pedals are neat though. Remove the small plastic collar (don’t lose it down a drain if it pings out) and the body releases from the axle.

The frame is made from 7005 aluminium, with massive welds and an anti-corrosion finish. The quality is such that Montague – SwissBike’s parent company – offer a lifetime frame guarantee. Nice.

And they should be tough too – Montague also make bikes for the military, designed for use by American paratroopers. You’d like to think that a bike designed to be folded, dropped by parachute and used in enemy territory is likely to cope with even the meanest of city streets and canal towpath tootling – and so it proved.

The second top tube makes up for the absence of a down tube. There’s no noticeable flex when you’re riding, that’s for sure. In fact, the ride is like that of a hybrid or similar urban bike. It rolls nicely, bounces over kerbs with ease and does nothing to let you down. Of all the folders we've tested, it would cope best with some rough-stuff riding.

The one real downside is the weight. True, it does have a good range of gears, but we’re not convinced of the need for front suspension on a bike of this type – unless you’re genuinely going to use it off-road – when the tyres should do a good enough job keeping things comfy.

The same is true of the front disc brake. It doesn’t offer a noticeably better performance than V-brakes, and as there are already V-brakes on the rear any advantage is minimised.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 52
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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