The Zizzo Liberte is, pound for pound and for its price, in my opinion the best folding bike on the market today. When properly equipped I believe it's at least top three best non-electric commuting bikes available in the US. Since buying my first Zizzo earlier in 2022 for daily commuting I've found a few additions that I believe bring these bikes to the next level in terms of daily practicality. Each addition balances utility with use and weight.
There are a few Liberte-centric design-related changes that, if Zizzo was looking to optimize a bike for urban commuters such as myself without *major* tooling modifications, I'd recommend for a future model:
- Pig Nose on head tube of Liberte frame for front loading/accessories. Easily the biggest utility shortcoming of the current Liberte frame. The bike is just dying for a front luggage rack or bag clip for briefcases and other lighter items just as the 2023 Forte model has received.
- Internal Geared Hub. While it would be heavier than a rear gear set an internal rear hub, ideally a five speed (best compromise of available speeds, weight, complexity, and cost), would require less maintenance, be better suited for inclimate weather, and would remove a number of somewhat delicate components (i.e. the derailleur, derailleur protector).
- Larger Front Chainring. Chainring size is always a matter of compromise. While the current Liberte's 48 tooth is adequate with its stock gearing faster riders or those in flatter areas (like me on both counts) have no use for the lower gears in most circumstances. I often start from stops in 2nd or 3rd gear, cruise in 6th, and in 8th find myself looking for at least one more gear higher. Any chainring between 52 and 60 teeth would fix this (though it should keep its built-in chain guard).
- More aggressive sweep on handlebars. While I have experimented with mini Dutch style handlebars (see photo of my Via below), they posed folding challenges that while not impossible to overcome did effect convenience. A greater sweep on the current nearly-straight bars would help with a more relaxed, upright riding position without compromising ease of folding.
- Commuter Package / Model. I've used both the Via and Liberte as my base for improvements; the light weight, higher-quality components, and thinner tires of the Liberte putting it on top. The beauty of a Zizzo is your ability to make it your own. That said I'm sure a market exists for those who, while wanting all the advantages of a well-thought-out and tested options package nevertheless wouldn't make it for themselves. I'll list my favorite additions below that, while currently aftermarket, could be turned into official Zizzo products.
Squared-off aluminum rear rack with integrated folding basket. My current rear rack is a Schwinn product. It's superior to the model offered by Zizzo. Its one drawback is a slight upward angle in the rear which could be corrected by shortening the lowest position on the rear arms. After experimenting with various folding baskets I've settled on a plastic option from a no-name Chinese manufacturer on Amazon. A folding basket on the left side of the bike impedes folding, so it can only be used on the right. Riding while loaded asymmetrically is surprisingly easy. While a metal basket is more robust the plastic basket is lighter, has slightly better foot clearance, doesn't rust, and is just as useful for those moments you wished you had a bit more storage just waiting for you on the bike. Modular rack accessories would be an interesting development.
Lights. Bontrager's Ion 100 R/Flare R City Bike Light Set is the best I've found for the Zizzo. With an adaptor piece both mount to the bike's reflector mounts well, while the rear reflector can be moved to the rear rack. A front mount for the front reflector would be nice but isn't necessary. These lights more than any other I've used compliment the Zizzo's aesthetic while also being useful and convenient.
Fenders. A must for any commuter. Zizzo's in-house product is great but could use a longer rubber flap on the back end.
Bell. For safety and warning. I prefer the sound and looks of Crane full-sized bells.
Lightweight seat. Zizzo's seats, while adequate for casual riding, did leave a bit to be desired as far as weight, looks, and comfort. My current Charge-brand seat is more comfortable for longer rides, weighs a few grams less than the stock seat, and adds color and angular flair to the Liberte.
Seat-matching locking ergonomic handlebar grips. Another nameless Amazon product, these grips are superior to the stock Liberte option, don't move on the handlebars, and match the seat well. Definitely a plus for aesthetics and longer rides.
(Maybe) Double-leg kickstand. Loading the Zizzo with heavier cargo has been a bit of a balancing act at times. While I haven't experimented with a double-leg kickstand yet, if there was one out there that weighed about as much as the stock option I believe it would make some loading/unloading situations easier.
Modifications noted above.
Thank you Zizzo Team for your wonderful bikes. Hopefully this post is useful feedback and helps either the Zizzo team or another customer in getting the most from their bike!