Josh Webb who took the second spot at this years CTK chimes in about his new bike.
I received my Parlee 5 days before Climb to Kaiser. My previous bike was full carbon fiber with top of the line components. Let me just tell you now that there is no caparison between the two bikes. Comparing this bike to other carbon fiber bikes I have ridden is like comparing apples to oranges.
Climb to Kaiser is a 155 mile bike ride with 13500 ft of climbing. It is a punishing ride that takes most riders 10+ hours to complete. I was admittedly a little nervous to ride it on a bike I received less than a week before the event. First impressions over the 5 days leading up to Kaiser were far beyond what I had expected. Sure I figured it would be nicer than my other bike but carbon fiber is carbon fiber, right? Wrong. There is carbon fiber and then there is a Parlee. The first thing I noticed was how silky smooth the ride was. It makes it feel like you are gliding over the road. Small bumps that would of jarred my other bike the Parlee simply goes over with just the slightest notice. With such an amazing ride you might wonder about the bikes sprinting ability. I am not a good sprinter. For me to win a sprint at the local group ride I have to break away early. 2 days after getting the bike I was on a group ride and decided to just sit in and see how the bike performed in a pure sprint. With about a quarter mile to go I was sitting 3rd wheel with the guy sitting 2nd wheel a decent sprinter who usually beats me in a pure sprint. It wasn't even close. With about 200 yards to go I jumped and he could not even catch my wheel. The power transfer of the Parlee was incredible. I could not believe how the bike accelerated. In a discipline like sprinting where the winning margin is often inches this bike will make the difference in a big way.
Now we get to my speciality, climbing. Words can't adequately describe the Parlee's climbing ability. If you are a non climber this bike will convert you. First of all the Z5SL is ridiculously light. Even more than that, the bike seems energetic on the climbs. Every switchback you feel the bike almost urging you up the climb. When you get out of the saddle the bike rewards you by almost seeming to float up even the steepest grades. Much like in the sprinting the bike doesn't waste any of your energy. When you press down on the peddle you feel all of your power going to forward motion.
After you go uphill you must come down and this bike descends like a rock! In the past descending is something I have struggled with. The Parlee's smooth ride let's you throw it into corners without the slightest thought. No longer do you have to worry about little bumps in the road. The Parlee goes over them without causing you to loose your line. The faster you go the more you feel that this is where bike wants to be. It will make a descender even out of the most timid rider.
5 days after getting the bike I completed Climb to Kaiser. Not only did I finish well but I completed it about 30 minutes faster than I had anticipated from my training. I definitely feel the Parlee attributed to this. It's superior climbing ability and light weight took time off all the climbs. On the descents I made big gains. The descent into the town of Big Creek was faster than I had ever done it before. It is a technical descent that I had struggled with on my previous bike. With the Parlee I was able to comfortably lean the bike over and maintain those few extra miles per hour in every corner.
One thing I hadn't anticipated was how good my body would feel after some 8.5 hours on the bike. Sure my legs were tired and I was physically exhausted but nothing hurt. On long training rides on my old bike I would get some soreness in my lower back. Not only would the back soreness slow me down but it would make it more difficult to stay in an aero position. The freshness helped me to keep my intensity and speed up in the last couple of hours of Kaiser.
Those that say performance is 95 percent the rider and 5 percent the bike haven't ridden a Parlee Z5SL. I have no doubt that my performance at C2K was greatly improved by the Parlee. One mark of a good bike is how much it inspires you to ride. The night of Climb to Kaiser as I was drifting off to sleep I remember wondering when the next time I could ride my bike would be. This truly is an inspiring bike with an incredible ride quality that will do nothing but enhance your performance and experience in all aspects of cycling.