We’ve been reviewing bikes (read cycles) for over a year now, as this section is in its 13th month as of this issue. We’ve pedalled up mountains, got dirty off the road on different trails dotting the city and even munched miles on the highways to get you the juice of the ride. We even checked if a specific bike fits into a service lift! Well, this time, we took a tiny break from the usual stuff and put on denims, a tee and a backpack to cruise, or rather amble aimlessly, around the city.
But to do that, we would need a tarmac-friendly bike that’s competent enough for a bit of mild off-roading as well. Not to literally go off the road, but to deal with the deep potholes, long water-filled gullies and even the grass growing through the paved cycle paths, courtesy the monsoons. So, we had two options: either review a high-end (premium brand) bike, or test a medium-budget bike. Why? Well, you wouldn’t take your million-dollar bike out in the mud and slush that accompanies the monsoons, would you? So, the choice was easy. The Montra Downtown, a cycle that comes from a brand that caters to everyone. But just because it’s a hybrid bike and has features usually found on the high-end ones, does that mean it can replace them? Well, let’s find out.
Now, just because the Montra Downtown doesn’t take your breath away at first glance doesn’t mean it’s no good. The Downtown I test rode came in a full Carbon Black primary colour with Neon Green text and graphics, giving it a premium aesthetic. The 2019 Downtown comes with a 6061 Aluminium Alloy frame, seen on the 2017 and 2018 models as well. Don’t go by the thin tubes on the frame, the reason Montra carried forward the aforementioned frame material is because not only have they used the right material, but also used it at the right places. The Downtown comes with a 700C steel rigid fork which adds a bit of extra weight but on the other side, makes it strong enough to handle the rough roads. The Downtown is equipped with a 21-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur with a Chenda crank, a Shimano cog set and a KMC chain for 7-speed. The braking department is handled by the Logan Mechanical Disc brakes mounted on a 36-hole steel hub at the front and rear. The XMR 700C Alloy Double Wall rims are shod with the Wanda tyres which look thin, at 35C. The bike sports a wide 600mm XMR steel handlebar with a 100mm alloy stem and Montra Ergo Comfort grips at the bar end. Montra has also equipped the Downtown with Velo’s comfort saddle with a 300mm
alloy seat post.
Though the cycle might look quite basic, the handlebar, pedal, and seat geometry fits perfectly with the everyday rider template. The Downtown comes with a basic fork which adds a bit of extra weight but makes it strong enough to handle rough roads. The feeling of weight, however, is compensated by the rims and wheelset, which feel very lightweight and allow for long bouts of effortlessly fast riding. You tend to shift gears a lot when on the city streets, and the setup works rather well without skipping a beat. The brakes had enough bite when applied simultaneously while manoeuvring on roads filled with traffic and also the interval braking felt safe to use when turning. What added to the comfort and confidence was the XMR handlebar which, with its perfect 600mm length, gave me an open-chested riding posture. The Wanda 700x35C tires were sleek while giving me enough traction on both plain and bumpy surfaces. Last but not least, despite riding around 38km in the city, the XMR saddle kept me sore free with its perfect length, width and cushioning.
At a point of time in the past, I used to love riding in the city, not because I couldn’t do more distance, but because I loved it there. I loved the chaos, the feeling of going at my own pace while observing the hustle and bustle of the city. So, are you also someone who feels the same, preferring to ride within the city limits? Well, then, the Montra Downtown is just the ride for you. It’s a hybrid cycle with a lightweight alloy frame, is comfortable and costs only Rs 13,950. And yet, it looks and feels premium because of its aesthetic design and detailed paint job.
At that cost, you get mechanical disc brakes which are pretty powerful and quick for the city, the Wanda’s thin tyres are fast rolling yet do not lose on traction for urban roads. So, if you are looking for a budget bike for fast urban commuting as well as fitness, you know what the answer is, as I had fun taking a break from the usual stuff and trundling around on the Montra Downtown.