EDIT: MEZZO/Ori are made in the same Ori factory, model designations change from country to countery. - Thanks - S.
A phew people have asked questions about the 'pink' Mezzo D9 I'm riding, so here's a thread for the Mezzo and Ori bikes. We have a couple of people on here who have a lot more experience of the Mezzo breed than I so I'll do no more than kick start the thread.
Mezzo's (Italian: 'half or medium') were designed around 2002/2003 by Jon Whyte, a mechanical deisgn engineer who had worked on Formula One cars and MTB's. It was a very difficult job, says Whyte and took two years of CAD design, ride and revise. The result is a bike which looks like it came off the International Space Station, with 21st Century engineering everywhere. Catches are very solid and foolproof and the bike snaps together with a loud 'clack'. The finish is flawless.
I first rode one during a Hyde Park Folding Bike Society meet, where I spectaculalry rode it into the kerb edge, and fell in a noisy, sweary heap. At that moment, I knew that any bike which survived an hour with me had to be very good indeed.
The bikes are all alloy spar-frame, anodised where it counts instead of paint, and run 16" rims. The wheels, unlike many folders, have double-walled rims for strength. The fold is not unlike a Brompton; the rear subframe swings under the bike, the front wheel unclips from the fork and also swings under the bike. See Youtube for demos.
An offset in the pivot for the rear subframe swings it to the offside of the bike as it rotates. Astonishing. Rather than fit a chain tensioner, two chain guide studs holds the chain in tension as the rear moves. Smart, and no added parts. The front wheel stays attached to the bike by a solid mudguard, and is never loose in any sense, even if you forget to do up the QR. A facelift in 2006 or so revised the front QR mech and clip so the fold is now even snappier.
It's slightly larger than a Brompton when folded, but fits where other 16" bikes fit. It's slightly wider, too. Weight is around 11Kg, too heavy to carry far, but the fold is fast and the unfold faster. A non-removable rack with rollers for pushing the folded bike completes the commuter look, and there is Mezzo branded luggage.
The ride is astonishingly stiff and responsive, (though less hard on the hands than the Brompton) as there are no folds on the massive spar frame but the Mezzo stock tyres need 85 psi in them to firm them up, and Schwalbe Kojaks at 100 psi give a faster if less forgiving ride. With everything locked together, twanging the rear frame with a screwdriver has the entire bike ringing like a bell, a sure sign of rigid build.
At the pilot end of the bike, the steering is by traditional MTB parts; a threadless headset, elongated stem, height adjustable handle-post, along with a modest riser bar give that familiar MTB feel. Brakes are Promax dual pivot, transmission is 9 speed derailléur with a Shimano Tioga cog-swapper, and SRAM Attack trigger shifter. Early Mezzo reviewers grumbled that the bike was undergeared, later models have a 54T front on them instead of a 52. I've added a 32T cog on the back, and have a spare 48T Stronglight front for 'alpine pursuits' and grocery hauling. BB is square taper, and sealed cartridge. Both wheels hubs are QR and spokes are stainless.
Mezzos are not cheap, prices have fallen a litttle but they are at the mid-price 'Brompton' end of the folder market. Used ones arrive on Ebay from time to time, as does the Mezzo luggage, which clips onto the rear rack. The large case holds a laptop, and a weekend's supply of Red Bull. Early hubgear I4 bikes turn up on Ebay too.
A new good-looking curved hydroformed frame is now on the current Mezzo/ Ori D10, and the design, from Whyte's co-designer Iain Alexander is now licensed to Ori who make them for the non-UK market. There are no holes for a bottle cage on the bike, so I use a clamp-on one, and the pump is zip-tied to the rack. The stock saddle is fine, I've added an SDG lightweight one since the pic was taken, as my road bike has one fitted.
Enjoy the Mezzo. It's a great bike, especially if you appreciate the utterly smart design which has gone into it.