Beau's Great ZiZZO Forte Bikepacking Experiment

by Beau Grant on August 10, 2022

ZiZZO Folding Bike Camping

You know the saying, “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?” It’s one thing to tell everyone about what a ZiZZO Forte can do, but how about just getting out there and doing it! Since day 1 here at ZiZZO I have been itching to test out the 300 lb. load that the Forte boasts. Coincidentally I had been watching a lot of adventure cycling videos where mountain bikes were outfitted with camping gear, tools, food, water, cameras and even pets in baskets while travelling through the great outdoors during lockdown. 

Last year I decided to start buying what I needed for a small adventure. The original plan was to use my gravel bike. When I saw the ZiZZO Forte folding bike specs- and it was a heavy-duty bike, immediately the wheels started turning in my head... Could I even attach big bags to a ZIZZO? Could I use the rack it comes with? How would the drivetrain handle a 300 lb. load up a long climb in the mountains, not to mention the offroad trails? Well, we won’t know until we try, right? 

BUT 1ST WE TEST 
ZiZZO Forte Park Test Site

Attaching multiple bike-packing bags to the ZiZZO Forte seemed to be really easy right from the start as I practiced at a local mountain bike park. With the large “loop” of the Forte cables I easily fit the bags on to the handlebars. These bags would hold the tent and sleeping mat. In the back I used bungee cords to hold the ZiZZO trunk bags along with a few others to the rack. These bags would be for food, water and random clothes/supplies. Then the sleeping bag was cinched down on top of that. I looked at it and thought, “This may actually work.” After spinning around the park on some trails I thought how I wish it had one more gear to climb hills. All in all, a good 1st mini test. I must say the looks on some of the mountain biker's faces were priceless. “What? You act like you never have seen a so called, “commuter bike” go bikepacking!” 

LET'S DO THIS FOR REAL! 

First of all, let’s start this off by letting you know I’m NOT a camping enthusiast. I had horrible experiences as a kid but wanted to give it another try even if it meant going solo. For this trip, not only are we testing out my nerves in the wilderness, but how the bike performs under an extreme load. With this information I could suggest any modifications for future ZiZZO models.  

Forte Folding Bike 
After securing a reservation for a spot at the campsite in the Santa Cruz mountains, it was time to roll! Food, water, supplies, tent, sleeping bag, camera gear were all arranged in the bags attached to the ZiZZO Forte. The bike felt fairly balanced as most of the weight was near the rack and the bulkier lighter bags up front. I was a little nervous to run out of water so I packed some extra bottles in my backpack. Before adding the backpack, myself, gear, and bike weighed around 285 lbs.: bike 29 lbs., rider 217 lbs., Bags/Food 39 lbs.). I took one last look at my camping checklist and was ready to roll.  

Immediately I felt like I had no choice but to be in a gear meant for hills, but I was still in the town of San Jose rolling through flat streets. I was only going to have 2 more gears to choose from up an 8-mile climb through the Great Basin Highway. After about 10 miles of flats, we hit the town of Saratoga for the last “real food” stop.  

After a light lunch it was time to climb. 8 miles of 4-9 % grades had me between the last 2 gears in the back. Sometimes it was perfect as I spun at 4-6 mph, and other times switching gears I was really grinding. There needed to be a gear in between for sure. I must admit, I was waiting for the derailleur to just explode under my force and the full rigs weight. Not a single issue or mishap!  

ENTERING THE CAMPSITE 
ZiZZO Folding Bike Forte Camping Trails 
I worked hard for a good hour and half and reached the top. I jumped on a system of dirt trails that would lead me to my campsite. Even though the ZIZZO Forte was loaded it felt solid rolling along the woods. I even ended up on a little single track dodging branches and roots popping out of the mossy forest. The traction actually seemed solid since the weight was kind of holding the bike down. I descended a steep hill that was loose with gravel and worried about the brakes. Once again, no issues as I stayed in control with a combination of a little front and back brake as needed. I rolled right into the site in no time.  

Before you know it, I was taking my bags off and getting ready to figure out how to pitch my tent and set up camp. As I was mobbed by mosquitos, I realized I didn’t pack the repellent. Luckily, I had long sleeves and some leg warmers but I still got bit up.  

Tents up let's eat! No fires allowed so it was time to grab a tortilla, refried beans, and beef jerky to make a 3-ingredient, non-cook burrito. Add some gummy bears for dessert and I'm ready to hit the tent to escape the onslaught of flying insects.  

ZiZZO Camping Folding Bike Forte 
I thought about folding up my Forte but decided to put it right in front of the tent. Nobody was out there anyways, right? As I listened to the trees sway, I fell asleep. Then the noises started happening.  

11:45 pm I was awakened by some weird snorting noises right outside my tent. These mountains do not have bears but mountain lions and other critters are common. I could hear whatever it was, it was really close. I think it was sniffing near my head... and I must say I was a little freaked out! I sat there motionless for an hour or so until I fell asleep.  

Now any little noise woke me up. Pinecones falling into the leaves, creaking branches, wind rustling my tent, every sound is amplified. To be honest I couldn’t wait till 5:45am when the sky would lighten up.  

I popped out of the tent to see a deer resting in a bush 10 feet from me.  Well, I guess my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. A horrible night of sleep behind me, I packed up and made sure I left no trace behind. Mosquitos got me a few times as I pedaled out of the steep ravine back to the road.  

I had a nice downhill back to the car and was happy to throw the ZiZZO in the trunk and go get some hot coffee. Final thoughts? The ZiZZO was the least of my worries as it passed all the tests. May I suggest a few upgrades? 

ENTER THE NEW UPGRADED ZIZZO FORTE 
New Forte Folding Bike 8 Speeds

After this trip and countless emails and video reviews we took all of your suggestions along with our own research to make a major upgrade to the Forte!  

Coming this Fall/Winter... the 2022/23 Forte!  

It will have the same drivetrain as the popular Urbano and Liberte with the Altus derailleur and become an 8-speed, adding that extra “hill climbing” gear. The crank now can swap chainrings out way more easily with the 5-star bolt pattern since it is industry standard. For additional racks, ZiZZO has added a “pig nose” mount on the head tube for touring bags to easily attach.  

And after all that the bike now weighs a pound less. The new Forte will come in Forest Green and Coral as of right now. We look forward to sharing with everyone when it will be available to purchase!  

 

15 comments
by John Shuey on January 13, 2023

I use my 2022 Forte in conjunction with my small RV. It is a cool little bike and it fills an important need. I added wider 2.12" tires and Slime tubes. Also a very soft ZHIQIU saddle, something I unabashedly use on each of my bikes. Plus I added a BV Trunk Bag which has a pocket for a water bottle. Too, I added a Zizzo cell phone holder and Zizzo metal pedals. The latter is really grippy.

The one weakness in pre-2023 models is an insufficiently low, low gear. So I’m converting to a nine speed w/ a 34T low gear. It requires changing the wheel, cassette, derailleur, and shifter. But I never buy a bike w/o setting it up to my liking.

I expect to use this bike in several different environments including high desert single tracks. Often, these are just deer trails. The cool thing is that Google Maps knows many of these!

by Tony on December 20, 2022

Hi Moises
Thank you for your comment and insights! As I am always saying, “Every rider is unique!”
You ask an interesting and valid question, “…should a Forte be required?” and again, it all depends on the rider and riding style.
At 150LBS, it doesn’t sound like you’ll need the added load capacity of the Forte for your day to day riding.
Here’s the “BIG” thing to keep in mind: when planning on what bike to get, think about where you “are” today (as a rider) and where you want to be in the future.
What I mean is this: Think of buying a Stainless steel water bottle. You might think, “I only drink 0.5L a day, so I’ll get a small bottle.” But, if, once a month you go on long hikes and drink 1.5L on those hikes, you’ll soon run out of water with the smaller bottle. With me still?
So, thinking of your “long” term water use, you might want to consider getting a 1.5L bottle and daily, just fill it to 0.5L.
Same thing with bikes!
If someone thinking, "I’m going to ride mostly on paved roads and not carry much, day to day, BUT once a month, I am going on a bike packing trip, then a Forte might be a better choice, than say a Liberte (for that day to day riding).
Again, it all boils down to the rider and what they feel is best for them!
Tony

by Moises C on December 20, 2022

This was an interesting read about one of the Forte’s potential. I currently have an Urbano(240lb weight limit) and so far am 5ft 11inch tall and weigh 150 pounds, so that leaves me with 90 pounds to work with in terms of cargo. Don’t know if a bike trailer could alleviate some bigger weight than 90 pounds for a bike of this weight limit. If not should a Forte be required?
Well I probably don’t carry too much either way(especially since I don’t have anything to attach the cargo on the bike too(save for a rear rack with 50lb limit, though no bags yet, but a backpack).
I generally use it in cases my regular bike isn’t available often stored in the car trunk. I haven’t been in situations in where I need to carry anything over 20-25 lbs, but I feel interested in at least camping for a day if I can.

by Beau Grant on September 09, 2022

Thank you for all the responses everyone! We appreciate your support and our goal is to always provide the best customer service possible. Please feel free to call or email us about anything and we will always do our best to answer any questions or do what we can to help you out. -Beau

by John Matthews on September 01, 2022

I own an early Forte and have always felt that the gearing was wrong. With the different components that you used, to just change the cluster the tools were close to $100.00. I elected to just make a stationary bike using your Indoor Trainer. How about a component. kit to match the new version so I can use it again on the toad

by Dellyn A Lee on August 31, 2022

Definitely can’t wait for this. I was going to get one but I am glad a new version is coming out. Looking forward to when this is available. I haven’t been on a bike since I was in high school (I am 29 now). If this comes out around Nov. (Birthday month) it’s going to be an amazing 2023 !

Keep making great bikes!

by Larry Webber on August 31, 2022

Crazy as it sounds (and probably is) I am a Forte and Urbano owner who noticed early on the difference in the two drive trains and I may well be one of your early customers on the new Forte. I’ve had both the Urbano and Forte in some short but steep hills and frankly, I pedaled up all of these on the Urbano and walked up some of the steeper ones on the Forte. The difference is apparent to me.

by Brian Hopkins on August 31, 2022

I absolutely love my ZiZZO Forte’ bicycle! I can’t say enough good things about this company and its products and customer service. Tony Reyes is all about customer satisfaction!

by George on August 31, 2022

Can the current Forte be upgraded?

by Greg on August 31, 2022

Nice to see manufacturers such as Zizzo , that listen to their customers . 👍

by Hernan Alfredo Baca on August 31, 2022

Same day I will have my bike,i promes,thak fot you mail,you are the Best !!

by Anthony Dobao on August 31, 2022

Love my Zizzo’s, I own the Ferro and Campo, would love to own the new Forte! Went on an expedition with an attach trailer that I modified for the campo to haul my telescope to a dark skies park. It easily carried all my gear and a tent

by Marta on August 31, 2022

Hi. For those of us who own the current versions of the Forte will there be a way to add the upgrades to our existing bikes?

by Ben on August 31, 2022

I’d like to see aa zizzo with 16 inch wheels an a triple fold like the brompton for overhead storage on pane

by bob on August 31, 2022

Great tale; thanks. Love your bikes, but you didn’t have the one I wanted in stock when I was ready to purchase, so I have an old Dahon folder.

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