Say hello to Parlee’s Z5. Regular readers will know I have a soft spot for Parlee’s, so when the opportunity to take the latest model out for a spin came about, I didn’t hesitate. I only spent a couple of weeks on it but in that time put in some good quality rides, enough to draw some early conclusions.
But, first a recap. The Z5 is the latest in the Parlee range and makes use of the company’s most up to date carbon moulding technology. This has allowed Parlee to produce its lightest frame yet, with a sub-800g figure claimed. Other notable features include a BB30 bottom bracket, twin stays borrowed from the top of the range Z1, tapered head tube (1.125″ to 1.25″), one-piece carbon dropouts, a new fork and carbon cable stops.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the new Z5 is the available size range. There will be five sizes to choose from, but each size can be bought with a short or long head tube, the latter adding 25mm in height. So the rider wanting the same sharp geometry as on a standard Parlee but who prefers a higher handlebar position without resorting to a huge stack of spacers is well catered for in this smart approach.
So, how does it all ride?, I’m sure you’re all wondering. Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. From steep hills to fast descents to winding country lanes to tight corners, the Z5 excels on all levels. It’s a noticeable improvement on the Z4, feeling stiffer under pedalling with a more precise and direct steering feel, yet is also noticeably more planted when negotiating rough roads or cornering hard and less prone to skittering about.
Its low weight helps on the climbs of course. This test bike, with a smattering of SRAM Red, tickled the scales at less than 14lbs. Throw in some exotica and you’re talking sub-13lbs easily. That, combined with the additional stiffness the BB30 provides, makes for a seriously capable climbing bike, one of the more effective I’ve yet ridden.
To say the Z5 flatters you is an understatement. It’s lively, with perfectly weighted steering, and is so responsive that it encourages you to attack every rise, throw caution to the wind and hurtle down hills tucked low over the stem with no twitchiness, slinging it around corners knowing it’ll handle exactly as you want to. It just keeps asking for more speed! It’s an inspiring and positive ride. The more I rode it, the more I wanted to ride it.
This is a race-worthy bike, yet with the option of the taller head tube is a sportive-ready bike too. There is no compromise with the Z5. Out and out a supremely impressive addition to the Parlee range.
Full review soon…