Mezzo D9 Folding Bike Review

Update 24/02/12: It has been nearly two years since I put up this article, and it’s still one of the most visted posts on the site. In that time I have received a number of comments on and offline about it. I posted it originally because I felt that it was the best way to get a single voice heard by the manufacturers, and I hope it has had some impact. Putting my name behind my opinion could only be a good thing. When I originally bought the bike, I had read good things about it and felt that it was the best small folding bike on the market. On balance, I don’t think that has really changed *ducks abuse from Brompton fans*. I do think that all products have room for improvement, and this is my honest feedback; I hope that the manufacturer has taken notice. Anyway, let the article inform you, but note that since I wrote this things may have changed.

It’s been over a year since I bought my Mezzo D9, and I thought I’d do a proper review with some serious mileage on the clock. The problem with most reviews is that they’re done too soon after the purchase and the quirks haven’t shown up. It’s easy to brush off issues with a new shiny toy.

Ooo shiny

I bought it because of a number of factors. Firstly, it folds into a small package – necessary since I live in an apartment and don’t have anywhere to lock up a full sized bike. It’s light, and I can fold it up and take it home on the tube if I ride it to work and the weather turns or an impromptu social occasion turns up. It’s nice looking in a geeky-cool kind of way, much neater than a Brompton, and the parts (brakes, gears etc) are interchangeable with off the shelf kit from the big name manufacturers (a big bonus). This is quite different from Bromptons, which have custom parts for pretty much everything. The ride is comfortable, and it really doesn’t feel like a small fold up bike. The somewhat weird handlebar positioning means it’s really stable, and not at all twitchy. All in all, good for city commuting.

I’d love to say it’s a great bike, but I can’t. At just over £700 it wasn’t cheap, and to be honest, I expected better. Mechanically (frame, gears) it’s great, but the standard small parts are a huge let down. A bit about my riding habits – home to work is 12km / 8 miles, roughly 3-4 days a week, London riding (potholes, uneven roads/concrete plates).

After two weeks, the folding plastic(!) pedals broke. Not off completely, but around the shaft leaving the flat part tilted at an angle. On looking around for replacements, I found the same ones on the net with a review that they’re cheap and breakage is common. I swapped them out for something a bit sturdier (metal folding ones, £25).

A month later, the brakes started failing. Not what you want in city traffic. On closer inspection, the standard brakes pads were about 2/3 the size of standard ones from a bike shop and were wearing unevenly. I switched them out for mid-range Shimanos with replaceable pads and haven’t looked back (£30).

Then there’s the tires. In the last year, I’ve done more tire changes than an F1 team in the same time frame. While I’ve learned a valuable life skill, I’d much rather just get to work and back. The rubber on the standard tires is just too thin. Replacement ones from Schwalbe (same size as the more popular Bromptons, and available from most bike shops) £35 each. Worse, and it’s something that you only discover through pain, the rim tape(!) is poor quality. What ends up happening is that the tube rubs against the spoke holes in the rim and causes punctures towards the inside of the wheel. I only worked out what was causing that after a half dozen punctures. Good quality replacement canvas tape? £2 a tire! Seriously, how hard is that to get right? Come on…

So, structurally good, but seriously let down by crappy off the shelf parts. Straight out of the shop, you may as well drop another £130 to replace the bits I’ve mentioned (and I haven’t counted the cost of tubes, tire repair kits, pump and other miscellany). Would I buy it again? Probably not. It’s a commuter bike, but not for the distances I travel, which admittedly aren’t huge. I’ve recently found fold-down hybrids and mountain bikes, which would seem to be a much better fit – the small wheels on the Mezzo mean you pedal twice as much for the same distance. That’s more a reflection as to how suitable it was for my needs.

As it stands, now that all the bits have been replaced, I do like it and I’m happy with it. If Mezzo got the parts right, it could be great out of the traps – as it stands, it’s a pain. It’s nonsense that you’d hesitate to ride to work because you’re constantly worried about changing flats.

Grade: B. Could do better.

5 Comments

  • Sam says:

    Jusr read your review of the Mezzo D9. A couple of points: if the brakes were wearing unevenly it’s a moments work to adjust the dual pivot caliper position screw. The rim tape on the Mezzo is a standard butyl rubber type also used on a large majority of folding bike and road bikes.If you’ve done more tyre changes than an F1 team you’ve either done a huge mileage or you’ve run underinflated. You don’t specify the mileage you’ve done, nor the point/mileage when the original tyres ‘failed’ or the running pressures of the tyres. The Mezzo stock tyres run at 85 psi which can be hard to achieve with a hand pump, and the tendency is thus to run underflated.

    Schwalbe Marathon tyres, the usual replacement for commuter bikes, are £15 each or less, not the £35 you quote. Schwalbe Kojak high pressure slicks are currently £9 each.

    The remark that ‘small wheels mean you pedal twice as far’ is not the case. The gear range on the Mezzo is similar to that of many single speed road bikes and pedaling cadence is also similar. Later bikes have a 54T front and an 11-26T rear which provides 78″ inches at the ‘fast end’ – standard road bike territory.

    Finally, you had a folding pedal break. It happens on Bromptons too, and replacements are £6 a pair.

  • Cockney says:

    Hi, after the previous review by Jakub I felt I had to put the
    record straight. I too own a Mezzo D9 and have owned it for a year.
    I ride my bike nearly everyday and I live in the hilly countryside
    not flat london,and put in some high milage up to 30 ml a day. Yet I
    have nothing but praise for this little bike. In fact I prefer it
    over my mountain. The only thing I have changed is the seat for a
    brookes. These are after all a folder and need treating according.

  • Julia says:

    Dear Jakub,
    I was intrigued by your post and wanted to share my Mezzo story. I purchased a Mezzo D9 in 2009 but because of my job relocation to Canada the bike went into storage so I hadn’t had a chance to ride it much. I recently had the bike tuned up for the season but the mechanic noticed that there is a fault with the fork and told me that he could not certify this bike safe to ride. After further investigation we discovered that there is a manufacturing error – the steer tube is loose in the fork crown. Although I have tried contacting Mezzo and Cycle Surgery about the fault none of them will get back to me. I’m curious about whether you had and luck communicating with Mezzo?

  • hugh williams says:

    From April 24th to May 6th I used my Mezzo 9 to cycle from Seville to Astorga some 720 km most of the trip was off road and the bike did better than I expected the small wheels fouled by sand, mud and rocks while the low position of the gear change “interesting”. Another problem was the total failure of the right pedal and wobble in the left. When the wheel dropped in a split drainage I performed a full twist with bike 3.2 dif other than split inner tube all blood was mine. Running on non-folding pedals for touring region but replacing soon.People impressed by the Mezzo but thought it was an Italian bike.
    a

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