By Kristian Gustafson
First published October 2007
From the start I found that the Mezzo d9 was a very comfortable ride. In terms of test-rides, I compared it to a Brompton and a Dahon, and found that the Mezzo rode the most like a “real bike”. The steering is quite firm, not twitchy at all, and one feels sensibly balanced. Like a lot of folders, the rider sits in a quite upright position, with good situational awareness in traffic. I find now I prefer this to the head-down (but much, much faster) ride on my full-size commuter Kona.
Once I thought I had the d9 mastered, I got a little cocky whilst weaving through traffic, and tried to go up a very small curb up to a pavement. The front wheel went, but the back wheel demurred, sending me ass-over-tea kettle in the middle of the street. Massive loss of cool points. That said, it was entirely my fault for moving incautiously. When one keeps in mind that you cannot ride the d9 like you are a bicycle-courier, you’ll do just fine.
The seat-post goes up pretty high though I am not a tall man. One of my complaints is that I cannot seem to manage to keep the seat-post from sinking on longer rides. Perhaps my hands are too weak, but I simply cannot seem to tighten the quick-release enough to keep it from going down 1 or 2 cm after 15 minutes of riding [see the postscript below for the solution]. But other than this there are no problems, and I haven’t noticed any flex at all in the bike, perhaps because of the lack of any joints on the frame of the bike itself. It seems very solid.
Now that I have it down pat, I can fold my d9 in about 30 seconds, and re-assemble it in about 15 (they provide a short DVD with the bike which shows you how to fold the bike). It really is a doddle. When I first started using the bike to commute the Transformers movie had come out, and I got attention from a lot of youngsters who stood mesmerised as I turned a bicycle into something else. One does have to remember to close the front quick-release when you assemble the bike, or else you hear an ominous clinking if you set off on a ride. They remind you to do this with a sticker on the front handlebars. I’ve forgotten once or twice and no harm has come to me, but you will notice it after a few minutes. Mezzo warns you it is unsafe to ride this way.
Once folded, the bike is relatively small: about the size of an airline carry-on bag. It fits nicely in our house without being obtrusive. On trains, it can fit a number of places without causing too much anger amongst fellow commuters, but does need to sit somewhere away from you, as it is big enough to be an obstruction. I usually put mine on a luggage rack and sit so I can see it. It is not quite perfectly balanced when folded, so you have to sit the folded bike so it will fall over (inevitable when the train jigs and reels) towards a wall or a bulkhead, instead of into the shins of another commuter.
The bike weighs about 10kg, so it isn’t really light (though lighter than some). It can be a pain to carry when folded, until one finds a hand-grip which you find comfortable. It does come with small wheels on the luggage rack, but these are really no good for dragging it any real distance over anything but the smoothest surfaces - I find it easier just to carry. So, I only really have it folded when on trains. When moving through train stations, either coming or going, I tend to keep it fully assembled. With the rear storage bag attached you have a convenient handle with which to lift the rear of the bike, and a hand on the front handlebar this I find is the most comfortable way of going up and down stairs and escalators. You may find different.
For an extra £60 or so you can get a storage bag that slides very simply and securely onto the rear rack of the bike. Held down horizontally by some slidey-clips, the bag is held in place vertically by a Velcro strap that goes around the seat-post. Very simple and secure, and very easy to attach and detach. The bag itself is big enough to carry the average brief-case worth of books and papers, and is padded enough that I happily put my laptop in it otherwise unprotected. It comes with a rain cover for the bag which has so-far kept my papers dry in driving rain. Very much worth the price.
I had some trouble fitting lights to the bike, in the front because of the narrow size of the handlebars. I eventually cannibalised some older lights and mounts to fit one on, which causes no problems when folded. The rear light went onto the seat post as I could find no way to attach a light directly to the back of the seat. Because of this, the seat post does not go as low as possible when folded, but this is not a problem at all.
It comes fitted with mudguards (integral to the bike, in fact) that seem to do the trick quite well.
I think the d9 looks cracking, much more modern and stylish then the Bromptons, which I think look very old-professor-with-leather-patches. Now that mine is a bit weather beaten, it still looks cool.
Anyway, there are my
thoughts. Hope they are helpful to
Shortly after this review was published, I was contacted by Mezzo
regarding the seat post clamp, and they supplied a replacement. I am
happy to report that the seat now stays where it ought to. Thanks to
Mezzo for such great service.
As mentioned earlier, we tested the Mezzo d9 very soon after its launch (report here), and quite a number of improvements have been made since then, so it is good to receive a test on a more recent machine from an owner. Looking at the web site, there are a number of points we'd like to pick out:
One major folder dealer we visited recently had several Mezzos in stock, and commented that they are selling quite well, especially as there are no availability problems, unlike their most obvious competitor.
Mezzo Folding Bikes web site: http://www.mezzobikes.com
A video about the Mezzo, including a demonstration of folding, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sfsdyi13pRI
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