There are bikes. And there’s a Parlee. On the skin, very similiar, but underneath the visual similarities, a whole lotta difference. Maybe I’m getting carried away, who knows. But what I do know is that the Parlee is one of the finest bikes I have ever ridden.
It’s precisely for this reason that, when it came to buying a new bike, I emptied my bank account in the direction of Bespoke Cycling and a Parlee Z4 frame and fork. And now I’m a very happy chappy indeed.
This love affair began when I was fortunate enough to test ride the Parlee Z4 some time ago, it tickled my fancy in a way that no other bike has before, or since. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how, finding the most descriptive words is far from an easy task. One really needs to be ridden, to understand where I’m coming from.
This bike resides in the company of some of the best performing bikes out there. The handling is wonderful, the instinctiveness of its responses to even the smallest of inputs, whether they be through the handlebars or the pedals. It’s a bike that revels in the thick of a tight and fast crit race, where pinpoint accuracy and immediate and brisk acceleration is required. But show it a sportive or similarly long ride, and it’ll happily transform into a comfortable all-day steed. Like the car equivalent of a Grand Tourer, it’ll munch away at the miles with amazing speed. And all the while with incredible grace.
The spec on this bike isn’t fixed. The frame will be used as a sort of test bench for any interesting parts that pass through the RCUK office. So currently, it’s sporting a pair of Reynolds Assault wheels, the fast 50mm rims make a good partner for the frame. They’re fitted with Vittoria tyres. Drivetrain is mostly Shimano Ultegra, with the chainset uprated to an FSA SL-K Light 50/34 (well I have to get up the hills somehow). Brakes are Bontrager Speedlimit fitted with Swiss Stop Flash pads. Jockey wheels are KCNC, with ceramic bearings. Moving to the contact points, I have a Bontrager Race X Lite Blade OS handlebar clamped in place with a Ritchey WCS stem – I’m liking how all the carbon at the front end complements the frame and forks. Bar tape is well-worn Arundel, seatpost Reynolds and the saddle a Prologo Touch – currently the pro-peloton’s favourite choice. And yes, I need to cut the steerer tube down a bit…
So there you have it. My bike. I’ll report back in a month with an update on how the bike rides and what bits I might have changed.