US-based Parlee make some of the most desirable carbon-fibre frames in the world, and this week the company launches the brand new Z-Zero, which they claim sets a new benchmark.
Parlee started out as custom frame builder 12 years ago, when founder Bob Parlee decided to put this experience from designing fast motorboats into his passion, cycling, and started building his own frames. He knows a thing or two about carbon, and has produced some of the finest frames over the years.
The company has concentrated on successfully bringing to market more affordable stock bikes at reasonably affordable prices, such as the Z5 and before it the Z4. The new Z-Zero is a no-holds barred road frame that is the culmination of everything they know about carbon and how to work with it, all wrapped up in one of the most beautiful frames I've ever set eyes on. And in a first for Parlee, they'll offer disc or rim brake versions of the same frame.
Parlee's new Z-Zero is built using their proprietary construction method. The tubes - top tube, down tube, head tube and rear stays – are precisely mitred and bonded to each other, and each junction is wrapped with layers of carbon, That gives the Z-Zero its seamless look. This direct carbon-to-carbon bond means the frame can be very strong and very light.
This modular approach also means the frame can be easily adapted to any future standards... like disc brakes, electronic groupsets, and anything else that comes along.
The bottom bracket shell is co-moulded to the seat tube to improve stiffness. An integrated seat tube is an optional extra. It gets really interesting at the rear of the frame where new compression-moulded carbon dropouts slot into a mono box chainstay assembly. The frame pictured here has standard cable stops but it will only be a matter of time before internal cable routing (like on the Z5i) will be offered.
Integrated all-carbon bearing cups save weight in the tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/4in head tube. Parlee have designed a new fork with Enve to fit the Z-Zero.
The main tubes are ovalised to allow Parlee to tune the ride characteristic. They're aiming this at people who want a versatile bike for all-day riding, where endurance is important. To that end there's clearance for whopping great 28mm tyres in the frame.
Like the Z1 which this new model will sit alongside, full custom geometry to the millimetre will be offered. And like the Z1, the individual layup of every tube can be tailored to the specific needs of the rider.
Frame weight for the rim brake version is a claimed 750g. Sizes from XXS to XXXL will be available. No word on availability or pricing yet; we'll report back as soon as we find out.
It feels like there's a whole new segment of road bikes opening up at the moment, with the key features disc brakes, huge tyre clearance and endurance comfort at the heart of their design. The Parlee is the latest to join this interesting new chapter of road bike design.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.