Parlee Z-Zero XD – An Adventure Bike for Any Road
The Parlee Z-Zero XD is designed to be a “quiver killer” – a capable bike that can take the place of many others and take on any road (and even some trails) and win. Does it succeed?
More Roads. More Rides.
Over the past few years I have found my riding more varied than ever – riding from town to town, from paved roads to dirt roads and rail trails. I’ve often thought how nice it would be to have a performance bike that could handle these various terrains optimally; like many, I wanted that “One” bike that can do it all and do it all well!! From rides like the Rasputitsa to D2R2, we are seeing so many new rides that include miles of dirt roads and hills designed specifically for dirt capable adventure road bikes. These are the rides that interest me most right now and it only made sense to build up a bike that would serve this use well.
Parlee Z-Zero XD – A Custom Capable Parlee Chebacco Made in Massachusetts
The Parlee Z-Zero XD is a newer model in the already outstanding line up of handmade carbon fiber bicycles produced by Parlee Cycles out of Beverly MA. The Parlee Z-Zero XD, is a relative to the stock geometry and build Parlee Chebacco (that is made overseas) adventure bike. Like its cousin the Parlee Chebacco, the Parlee Z-Zero XD is a ground-up design that is specific for adventure/gravel and road riding as opposed to being a dedicated cyclocross bike that works, but has some compromise, on the road. Can you use a stock geometry Chebacco or Z-Zero XD in a cross race here and there? Sure. It the stock geometry XD is capable of recreational cross racing. For those dedicated cross racers, being a full custom capable bike, we can design a Parlee Z-Zero XD custom to be a dedicated racer if desired as well. One great thing about a well fit and designed custom bike is that it is all about your fit, needs and use; we can create a geometry that covers what is important to you and Parlee can create a ride that matches your use.
What makes the Parlee Z-Zero XD different from the Parlee Chebacco?
While the Parlee Chebacco is built to Parlee’s tight manufacturing specifications overseas, the Parlee Z-Zero XD frameset is handmade in Beverly MA. The Z-Zero line of bikes in Parlee’s range are built from the highest quality and best engineered carbon fiber available. However, unlike the Parlee Chebacco which uses size specific construction, each Parlee Z-Zero XD (stock or custom geometry) is built specific to the individual rider in terms of the tubing selection. Using the design from you fitting, Parlee’s frame builders take your riding goals and body weight into account as they create your bike. Every layer of carbon is applied with the rider in mind as they assemble every tube to create your frame set. All of these steps ensure that your new Parlee Z-Zero XD rides in your optimal balance point. Much like having a kitchen designed and built just for your needs, this approach creates a noticeable difference in the experience it creates when you ride it.
The lines of the Parlee Z-Zero XD frame are elegant and sculpted. It is a very sexy looking bike. The shape of the Parlee Z-Zero XD goes deeper than just good looks, but also adds to the performance of the frame. For example, curving the stays add to the mud clearance required on some of the muddiest rides. The shaping of the stays also add into the vertical compliance of the back of the bike and, when combined with the strength of the layup and rear thru-axle design, the result is disc brakes without the chatter or twisting that plagues some frames.
The handling and geometry of my Parlee Z-Zero XD was designed just for me based on the coordinates from my rider first bike fitting here at Fit Werx. One item that makes a Fit Werx custom bike unique is that we actually do the initial design of the bike in-house; we don’t just rely on the bike manufacturer to design the bike. The advantage to having your bike fit and designed by the same technician is that no one knows more about your needs than a good fitter. Furthermore, no one understands the capabilities of each builder better than a technician who works with them regularly. This allows us to provide a frame design that is more polished and personalized than most and you get the benefit of having multiple skilled people working on it.
A custom frame should be very personal. Thus I can only tell you how my Parlee Z-Zero XD was designed for me and my views on how the team at Parlee brought my frame geometry, thoughts and requests to life. I have owned a Parlee Z-1 custom for my road bike for a few years now. This frame leaves nothing on the table on the pavement – it is my all out performance bike and Parlee hit the mark on that bike – building it with the geometry we developed at Fit Werx and selecting just the right tubing mix for my needs! I wanted the Parlee Z-Zero XD to be a bit different from my Z-1 though in terms of ride. In discussion, compared to my Z-1, I wanted more vertical compliance to suck up the trails and rough stuff.
Parlee Z-Zero XD Tire Options
We tweaked the front end of the bike to make sure the handling and stability would remain dead-on with the wider tires. On the road, this bike is as predictable as my Z-1 and every pedal stroke is transformed into forward momentum. I am excited that even with larger tires I can join a road ride and hold my own… Many people have a notion that 25-27mm wide tires are slow compared to the 23c that they are used to. They are not. I have even tried Clement X-Plor tires in a wide 40mm at 80 psi and I can do a fairly spirited road ride with these. Not only can you pass on the left, but you can pass people on the right in the dirt with a 40mm tire! So much fun!
When riding on dirt, I bring the tires down to 45-60psi depending on terrain. I have taken my Parlee Z-Zero XD on miles of dirt rail trail and it handles very well. At the end of 40 miles or more, the bike handles the vibration of dirt and the bigger bumps and dips smoothly and powerfully. When I’m on smoother trails, I have come to realize that there is a kind of actuation that takes place. On the chatter of regular trail vibration, the bike continues the drive forward but isn’t as elastic as I thought I may have wanted. When I get into the rougher sections, I realize that it handles this so well that I can just focus on pedaling while staying seated. I have to believe that they did as I asked. I’m not sure I would have it built differently if I had the option to do so.
Switching out tires also gives this bike the incredible versatility I was looking for. I can use this bike for any and all road riding with 25c-28c tire. I can use this on most Rail Trails and most gravel rides with a 30mm Strada Bianca tire. I can even hit moderate single track using a variety of cross tires with a large volume of tread options.
Parlee Z-Zero XD Fork
The fork on the Parlee Z-Zero XD is the same fork as found on the Parlee Chebacco. Parlee has spent years developing carbon products and they refused to release a fork, bar, stem or seatpost with their name on it that was not world class. There is a lot of competition in these categories and we all know who we believe to be the best at this. Parlee had to be positive they could do each part better than what they could buy. For example, on the new Parlee XD fork, one nice feature is how the hydraulic disc line goes through the crown of the fork and is internally routed through the fork blade, exiting down by the disc caliper. This does a great job of protecting the hydraulic line while looking refined and clean.
For those that know me, I’m not a small guy – I’m over 6’ and 200 lbs… The cornering of the tapered Parlee fork is tight and the torsional integrity of the fork was plenty. It tracks exceptionally well in tight corners on bumpy trails and equally as well at 50mph descending mountain passes. The fork adds a smoothness on trail and road that compliments the frame ideally while the thru axle design makes wheel installation with the disc rotor easier and with better alignment than a traditional quick release. I did have to get an adaptor for my roof rack though…
Like all frame first bikes at Fit Werx, the Parlee Z-Zero XD is built and configured to your choosing and needs – mechanical, electronic, wireless, your choice of wheels… One great thing about full custom is that the bike is built without compromise and spec’d to your exact needs and desires!
My Parlee Z-Zero XD Experiences
I’ve put on quite a few miles on my Parlee Z-Zero XD – I can’t seem to stay off it. I have taken this bike out into my normal mountain biking trails. Yeah.. you might still want to keep your mountain bike, but you can take the Parlee Z-Zero XD through a lot with the correct tire and maybe your bike handling skills are better than mine!
I have ridden this over several of the notches in NH on my Parlee Z-Zero XD – I am running the bike with an Ultegra 6870 Di2 electronic groups and using the Wolf tooth RoadLink hanger adapter allowing me to run an 11-36. I could probably ride up Mt Washington with this set up. I can climb the mountains and descend over 50mph with confidence on the bike.
When I started my Parlee Z-Zero XD project, I wanted a bike that had the ability to go from road to trail and enable me to connect several towns. I am confident that Parlee hit every point I was looking for and I am continually surprised at how this bike handles the different things I try to test it with.
What do you want your Parlee Z-Zero XD to do for you? Contact us to start the discussion!