Saturday, August 15, 2009

Parlee Z4 - Campy Record 11spd

Last September, I went to the show with a few items on our list and came back with a bigger list than which we started. As far as bike lines, we knew Time had to be at the top of the list. After riding extensive miles on three different models I'm positive we made a super choice. However, while Time is a supreme bike for both the racer and non-racer, there is no opportunity for customization.

About a year and a half back, I ran into a small frame builder, here in the United States, called Parlee Cycles, that will build you a carbon fiber bike to your ideal specification. In this day of stock, use it until it breaks - because it will, and then toss it in a landfill, a customized and repairable bike perked my eyes and ears.

Parlee builds four models of bikes. Three of their frames can be built to your specs and one, the Z4 and the bike pictured here, is their stock model. While geometry changes are not an option on the Z4, paint may be changed. I'm built like "Joe Average", so I figured I would start with a stock model.

As for the Z4, I've put about 200 miles on this bike. The short answer is - I like the bike. In fact, I like it a lot!

In the last year I've ridden several bikes. Four bikes stand out in my mind and three are very stiff. Two were both stiff and smooth, a combination that is getting easier to achieve in today's world of carbon fiber. Out of those two, one is built with durability in mind, and one is currently in my repair stand with a broken seat tube.

Ride Details:

Every watt of effort put out by the rider is translated into forward motion on a Z4. It's fast, really fast. The Z4 carves a corner with little effort, but corrects easily if you need to dodge something in the road. It soaks up road shock, but not so much that the tires feel flat.

Finish Work:

Parlee uses lugs to construct their frames, resulting in a stronger, straighter, and more repairable frame than what has become the norm of expensive throw away frames. For example, If I crash and punch a whole in the down tube, Parlee can replace the tube and get me back on the road. The last frame I did that to was done only after 8 months of riding and it retailed for 3900.00. Monoblock frames can become very expensive to own.

Part Build:

I chose to use Campagnolo Record 11 speed. The shifting is crisp, the hoods are a joy to ride - offering multiple hand positions, and the group as a whole is pretty light.

As for wheels, I chose, for the second time, to ride Fulcrum Racing 5's. To me, these wheels just make good sense. They cost very little, they're stout, and offer a supremely balanced ride. The tires are the new Schwalbe Ultremo DD. They grip well, much like a Pro Race 3, but resits flats better.

The bar, stem, and seatpost are all FSA. This brand is nothing short of reliable, well built and has great ergonomics for the majority of the population. I've used a compact drop on the last several bikes as with this one. I find this shallow bar to be more usable in the drops than other brands, allowing room for larger hands and putting your finger tips closer the brake lever and your back less bent over. This allows the rider to bend their arms to drop their head lower and absorb road shock.

Over the last 15 or so years I've used only two models of saddle. First was the Selle Italia Flight and now the Fi'zi:k Aliante. Saddles are a tough one. I find something and stick with it, and the Alainte has worked well for me. It's more suited to the person of lesser flexibility. I'm certainly guilty.

I can't wait to get back to a reasonable level of fitness and be able to do my new Z4 justice. I would love to have you stop in, call, or email me anytime to talk about Parlee. And if it fits you, arrange an extended test ride. It will be worth your time.

7591 N. Ingram Ave #106
Fresno, CA 93711


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