I have been a Parlee dealer for just over a year now and have sold a dozen of the Z5 framesets. The feedback has been very positive. I had been getting flack from Ben at Parlee to spend some time on a Z5 so he finally made a deal that I could not refuse. The frame had been kicking around for a while because I wanted to build it up with Ultegra electric group.
I have been riding the Parlee Z5 SL equipped with Shimano Ultegra DI2 (electronic) Groupo for the past two months. The carbon frame is size is an XL Tall, meaning it has an extra two centimeters of headtube, compared to their regular XL (19.6cm). This is a fitters dream bike because the bike comes in 10 sizes. Basically they take each regular size and add 2m of headtube length and call it Tall so you have a Medium and a Medium tall as well. The bike as I have it set up is just under 15lbs with pedals, including a set of Enve 45’s with Powertap. This bike is way lighter than I deserve, weighing in at a scant 190lbs.
It took me a few rides to completely dial in the fit, but I could tell during the first time out that the ride was quite nice. The Z5 did everything I willed it to do. Climbing is a breeze, even though the frame itself is not super stiff, it is very efficient. When putting a lot of energy into the pedals on a climb, you can feel some flex at the bottom bracket. However you get a nice little pop in the rebound of the frame.
I am usually drawn to super stiff frames, but the Z5 has surprised me in a very positive way. On rough pavement where I would normally be out of the saddle, the Z5 soaks up the little bumps beautifully. This is probably where the bike shines the most. I would find myself heading into the rough pavement intentionally. I have taken it up to a little over 50 mph on decents and the combo of geometry and the Enve fork work beautifully together. I never felt nervous.
One set back for the frame is a lack of clearance between the chainstays. I went to put my winter training wheels with 25c tires on them, and there is so little clearance that I wouldn’t ride them on the bike. This seems like a small detail, but if you blow a spoke, plan on spending some time to get your wheel true or it will rub the frame hard.
I’ve truly enjoy riding the Z5 because it does everything well. It soaks up the bumps like nothing I have ridden. Handling is a breeze even on steep twisty descents. Climbing is actually fun on this bike because of the feedback the bike gives to the rider. The Z5 has made a believer out of me.