Parlee used Eurobike 2014 to lift the lid on the Altum. Parlee’s lightest frame to date replaces the long-standing Z5 in the American firm’s off-the-shelf range.
The new frame will be available in three models: the flagship, 750g Altum (£3,999 for the frameset), the more affordable, 810g Altum R (£3,299) and the Altum Disc (£3,299). Parlee have also introduced a more affordable version of the ESX aero road bike, dubbed the ESX R (UK price TBC).
The Altum is 100g lighter than the Z5 thanks to a new carbon fibre layup process which Parlee say has dropped the weight without sacrificing stiffness and while maintaining a smooth ride quality.
We caught up with Parlee’s Tom Rodi to find out more.
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New kid on the block
The Altum replaces the long-standing Z5 in the Parlee range. "This is the new kid on the block," says Rodi. "The Z5 has been our bread and butter for the last five years and it's still a very good bike but there were a number of things we wanted to improve and tweak." The Altum is 100g lighter than the Z5 thanks to a new carbon fibre layup process, with a claimed frame weight of 750g putting it well into 'super-light' territory.
Parlee say that weight reduction has come without sacrificing stiffness or ride quality. "What we wanted from the Z5 range and what we want from this is pretty similar, in terms of fit and who the bike is for, but we've improved things across the board and it's a little more versatile," says Rodi. "It's a really well-rounded ride. If you're a full-on racer and you're looking for all-out performance then the bike has that, but it also has that balance and 'road feel' that we like, so if you're more on the sportive side of things, then you're still going to like it."
Parlee introduced the ESX last year -
you can read our launch report here - and the Altum borrows a number of features from the American firm's first aero road bike, including this neat integrated seatclamp and some of the shaping of the tube profiles.
The Altum also uses the ESX's 'FlexFit' headtube, whereby the length of the headtube can effectively be extended by using one of three top caps to offer a wide range of fits. "There's 25mm difference between the three so you can fine-tune the fit and the handlebar position to suit a wide range. As you come up, it also comes back, so you shorten the reach, and the range of stack and reach options on the Altum is quite broad. It's a very similar design to the ESX, which only had two options when it launched, but we decided to go with three on this and we'll roll it into the ESX, too."
We've previously noted the trend towards wider tyres, with riders (both professionals and amateurs alike) shifting away from traditional 23mm rubber, and the Altum can officially take anything up to 28mm, with enough wriggle room for something wider still depending on the tyre itself and the width of the rim it's mounted on. "The desire for people to run wider rims and wider tyres isn't going anywhere, if anything I feel like people are going to go even wider," says Rodi.
Parlee have introduced the frame in three variations: the flagship Altum we've already shown you, the more affordable Altum R (pictured) and the Altum Disc. This stunning Altum R was one of the finest-looking machines - among thousands of bikes - that we clapped eyes on at Eurobike.
The Altum R shares the same design features as the top-of-the-range Altum but a revised carbon fibre layup adds a little weight and brings the price down from £3,999 for the frameset to £3,299.
The geometry of the Altum (and the Altum R and Altum Disc) largely carries over from the Z5, though as a result of the FlexFit headtube, it's available in six frame sizes, rather than 12. "We've tried to move to a centralised geometry across the range so if you fit an M/L frame in an Altum, you'll fit an M/L in an ESX, and you'll fit an M/L on the Z-Zero." While Parlee used an Enve fork on the Z5, they have developed their own for the Altum and Altum R, weighing a claimed 280g and 330g respectively.
Parlee Altum Disc
The Altum is Parlee's new super-light, off-the-shelf machine and its available in three versions: the flagship Altum, the more affordable Altum R and the Altum Disc. You can read more about the American carbon fibre specialist's latest line-up in
this Eurobike show report.
The 2014 Eurobike show saw the disc brake revolution arrive. Most major manufacturers had at least one disc-equipped road bike to show as part of their model year 2015 range.
Parlee have opted for thru-axle at the front and quick release at the rear on the Altum Disc, though that can be quickly converted to thru-axle with two screwable alloy plates on either dropout.
Take your pick
While the Altum Disc will be shipped with this thru-axle fork as standard, Rodi says they will likely offer a quick release fork (also available as an option on the custom Z-Zero Disc). As for the fork itself, Rodi says the weight penalty served up by discs is marginal. "Another thing that people have been concerned about with discs is weight," he says. "What we've found is that the frameset will be within 100g total of the caliper version of the Altum R. This frame as it sits here is sub-900g, so it hasn't added a lot of weight, and the fork is 365g, so it's not a heavy fork. Five years ago that was about as light as a carbon fibre caliper fork would get. Obviously you have to have additional stiffness in the leg for the braking forces but a disc fork doesn't need to be super-heavy."
Parlee ESX R
Parlee launched their first aero road bike, the ESX, last November, and now have introduced a more affordable version, the ESX R. The R shares the same chassis design as the regular ESX but a revised carbon layup adds approximately 100g in weight.
The ESX R's striking 'Recurve' fluted tube profiles were wind tunnel-tested at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, compared to the Parlee Z5, the frame is said to save a rider between 57 and 95 seconds over a distance of 40km.
The Z-Zero, available in rim and disc brake versions, was
launched in November 2012 and remains unchanged for model year 2015 but it's worth another look. The Z-Zero is Parlee's flagship custom machine, though it is also available in 16 'semi-custom' sizes. Each bike is made to order.
The Z-Zero, like the Altum and ESX, is available as a custom paint option, with this 'Arctic digital camouflage' machine taking its place on the Parlee stand at Eurobike.
As well as wide number of disc-equipped road bikes at Eurobike, we also noticed a fast-growing range of disc wheels and the Z-Zero Disc was fitted with a set of prototype Lightweight Meilenstein Disc hoops.