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February 15, 2010
Over many years I’ve been spoiled with nice bikes that have basically been given to me. I never had a need that required me to do some heavy research on on a bike I’ll be dropping thousands of dollars on. I’ve been extremely fortunate.
I’ve become desensitized to how nice some of these bikes that I’ve ridden actually are. However, once in a while I’ll ride a bike that makes me think “wow!”. A bike that I took out for a couple rides this weekend did just that. The new Parlee Z5. I usually try to steer away from “product reviews” but I felt compelled to let you guys know about this one.
Note: Cycling Edge isn’t even aware I’m doing this review. It’s not a paid review nor do I feel obligated to say anything about it.
The first thing you notice about the Z5 is that it’s ridiculously light. The frame weighs 840 grams (size large) and the Edge composite 25mm wheels are sub 1000g. When I initially picked it up I nearly put it through the roof! The whole thing weighs 5.6kg. No, that’s not a typo. Sure it’s on the UCI banned substance list, but how many of us get weighed-in on the Saturday morning bunch ride anyway?
Weight isn’t everything though. I’d prefer few more grams here and there if it adds stability, strength and comfort. This bike doesn’t feel flimsy and frail though. What they’ve been able to do is quite amazing.
Cycling Edge will help you spec any of their bikes you your liking, so you can make it as expensive or as affordable as you like. The Z5 I rode had SRAM Red, FSA handlebars and seatpost, Speedplay pedals, Selle Italia saddle, and Edge 25 tubular wheels. If I were to spec my dream bike it would be nearly identical. All I had to do was raise the saddle.
The way this Z5 is spec’d it retails for somewhere around $12-$13k AUD. However, I don’t thing it’s a pure price decision for the person who’s in the market for a bike like this. Sure the law of diminishing returns has kicked in long ago, but there have been a LOT small gains add up to be something significant. There’s not much left you could upgrade. However, you could shed a lot off the price if you went to SRAM Force (very little difference to RED), and you can still get a set of great wheels for $1k.
Would I buy this bike? The above modifications would bring the price range down to something I’d definitely consider buying. If I had deeper pockets I wouldn’t change a thing.
The bottom bracket on the Z5 is the new BB30. What is the BB30? It’s a new bottom bracket standard allows the bearings to be pressed directly into an oversized bottom bracket shell. It eliminates the need for external (or internal) bottom bracket cups. The performance benefits are that you get a substantially lighter and stiffer BB, you reduce Q factor, and you save weight.
My favorite handlebar – the FSA K-Force. I never thought a handlebar could be so comfortable.
The rear stays are reminiscent of a steel bike where the two separate stays run into the seat tube. This dampens vibrations better than the monocoque stays that converge together into a fork. The separate stays shown here are more expensive to manufacture, but the difference is sure noticeable.
The Edge 25’s are sensational. Light, stiff, incredibly strong and truable (unlike my Lightweights). I always find that the biggest noticeable difference that you can make on the feel of a bike are the wheels. These are the goods! They’re available in tubular or clincher. These ones are tubs.
Parts of Passion skewers that weigh 39g and Extralite hubs. I don’t know how much these weigh but I’m guessing that they’re “extra light”. They certainly roll nicely.