We’re pretty excited about Parlee’s latest engineering creation – the Parlee RZ7 aero road bike. Why? For some of the reasons we are excited about bikes like the 2019 Cervelo S3. Aero road bikes are improving markedly in terms of rider comfort, fit and versatility. They are also becoming a bit easier to work on and own and simply look really cool. It is hard not to want one when looking at it…
The Parlee RZ7 is a return to the aero road bike platform for Parlee after the ESX disappeared for a few seasons. It is an impressive return as it checks a lot of boxes when it comes to what many people likely want in a performance oriented road bike. The highlights are as follows:
2019 Parlee RZ7 Aesthetic
The lines of the RZ7 are a nice mix of fluid aerodynamic lines without going overboard. The RZ7 has some of the aesthetic of the Kamtail based Trek Madones, but smoother and less angular.
Simply put, we think the Parlee RZ7 is a really nice looking bike. It is hard to fault the emotion that a really nice looking bike elicits when it comes to simply wanting one for its beauty.
2019 Parlee RZ7 Cockpit Integration
Parlee put a good deal of effort into creating a cockpit that melds with the rest of the frame on the 2019 RZ7. Any cables and hoses are tucked in and barely visible on the bike and the oversized 35.0 stem combined with Parlee’s high quality carbon compact road bar make for a laterally stiff, vibration damping, light and fast looking front end.
Thankfully, unlike some aero bikes, the RZ7 isn’t virtually locked in one place because of the integration. We talk about that next…
There are a fair number of integrated aerobikes out there that can be diabolic to work on. While obviously not as straight-forward as a caliper brake bike with external cables, the cable routing and integration on the RZ7 is a step ahead of many designs out there.
One limitation some aero road bikes have had historically is handlebar height adjustment. Parlee provides a bike that offers a huge 7cm of spacers below its integrated stem. Furthermore, they say that they are working to offer even more height adjustability down the road. Using the integrated stem spacers that the bike ships with, the bike retains clean lines with spacers. It is nice to see manufacturers pay attention to the importance of handlebar height adjustment in their aero designs and provide a solid range of fit adjustability. In fact, the functional fit window on the RZ7 is very close to the venerable Parlee Altum, a bike with one of the largest stack ranges in the industry.
While we look forward to someone figuring out a great way to integrate a stem without requiring the hydraulic brake lines be cut/removed in order to change the stem length, the stem is spacious and its shape lends itself to lateral rigidity. The fact that Parlee uses their already established compact carbon road bar means there is no limitation on adjusting the angle of the bar (like there is with may flat top aero bars) and we know it will be comfortable for most riders.
This all being said, integrated aero road bikes do a great job of illustrating some of the huge benefits to being fit in advance of buying your new bike. Why? Well, in addition to helping you select a bike that fits you properly before you buy, having the bike built out of the box to match your riding position can save a significant amount of time and money after the fact. Cutting hydraulic brake lines and redoing cables and wiring lodged deep within a frame and integrated handlebar is not a fast or inexpensive project.
Having your new Parlee RZ7 built to the right riding position the first time is highly recommended. Contact us to make a fit appointment or talk to a fit consultant.
One thing we love about Parlee is that many of their bikes allow us the flexibility to change the specifications for fit and rider preference.
With many bike brands, we receive a pre-spec’d bike out of a box and then have to work with you to change parts so that the bike fits you properly. With many Parlee models, from gearing and crank length to stem and bar sizing, we can often just let them know what we want and get it right from the factory. This means no need to trade things or buy them twice in order to get the right bike fit.
Beyond fit, we can even change wheels, eliminate saddles, etc. with the factory. This is a nice advantage when it comes to getting the right bike from the start at a good price.
Like all Parlee bikes, the 2019 RZ7 is available in a wide range of component specifications including mechanical and electronic options from Shimano and SRAM (including the SRAM RED and Force eTap AXS).
Parlee RZ7 Tire Width
Even aero bikes need to accommodate a relatively wide tire to be considered by many riders these days. Thankfully, disc brakes and other design changes have allowed this to happen. A number of aero bikes today make reasonable steeds for the occasional gravel road jaunt without being punishing. In the case of the Parlee RZ7, a tire that measures a full 32mm in width will fit between the stays. Think about that for a second. We’re only a couple years out from aero bikes that wouldn’t even take a 25mm tire!
Parlee RZ7 Aerodynamics
We’re not about to get into the nuances of whether one aero road bike is truly faster than another aerodynamically. The reality is that you can’t test every rider on every frame shape under every atmospheric condition. In other words, it is unlikely that there is one “fastest” aero bike for all and we’d take all aero test data with a grain of salt.
Why consider a Parlee aero road bike or triathlon bike? Bob Parlee designed and built competition carbon fiber sailboats for the America’s Cup before starting a bike company. Why does this matter? Parlee, as a brand, was born out of an understanding of fluid dynamics, which directly relates to aerodynamics.
Parlee did a good deal of aerodynamics testing and design of the new RZ7 and the result is their own proprietary tube shape called Recurve. Recurve is designed to enhance aerodynamics while simultaneously increasing lateral stiffness and not detracting from comfort in the process. Lofty goals. Have they achieved it? We are confident that Parlee has created a very competitive aero tube shape from a drag perspective and we know that the ride quality will be at the head of the class.
You don’t build sailboats that are competitive at the top level without sweating details and Parlee definitely did that with the RZ7. While it lacks a hyper aero handlebar, the RZ7 has details like disc brake shrouds and thru axle plugs to make it as slippery as possible.
Parlee Ride Quality
Regardless of the bike model or intended use, Parlee has always stuck to creating a really nice riding bike frame. If they can’t make it have that lively, yet smooth and compliant feel they are known, they won’t build it. While we haven’t had a chance to throw a leg over the RZ7 (the model was just publicly announced today), we are confident that it will be one of the nicest riding aero bikes on the market.
2019 Parlee RZ7 Availability & Price
There are 100 Factory Edition (pictured) first run Parlee RZ7 models due to ship over the next few weeks. Fit Werx is one of a limited number of Parlee dealers who will be part of this initial launch. The bike is available with a range of components, including SRAM’s new Force and RED AXS groups, and the price for a complete Ultegra Di2 bike starts at a very attractive $6600.
These first 100 bikes are all that will be available until an in-line RZ7 model becomes available in July. If you want to find out how a RZ7 fits you, want to reserve one of these special first bikes in their limited edition color scheme, or just want more information, contact us.