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Testing bikes sounds like a dream come true for a cyclist ? a constant stream of new stuff to play with ? but the reality is never quite the same as riding your own bike, and it?s often a pleasure to get back on it. Parlee?s Z4 broke this trend, being the first test bike I would choose to ride instead of my own.
Cheapest in the range it may be, but this is not reflected in the build, with manufacturing techniques and tubes directly borrowed from the Z3 (CW Race Bike of the Year 2006), and classy finishing touches like the carbon cable-stops also remaining.
In a nutshell, it?s a progression of Parlee?s ?no compromise? and ?no expense spared? approach to custom bicycle design, put into stock frame production, at a less exclusive price.
The £2,100 tag for frame, fork and headset opens the brand up to a wider customer base, but the hand-made quality is still clearly evident, with every join and detail tailored impeccably and given higher priority than weight saving, although the Z4 still weighs under a kilo. Aesthetics and scales aside, the ride is simply superb.
It?s a bit of a David and Goliath; a skinny, minimalist tubular frame, not a beefed up colossus like many others, but with an outstanding performance that can only be the result of really understanding the material and getting the best out of it. You can feel the stiffness, a little less than the Z3, but less of the bumps too, so clearly an excellent balance has been struck.
The Z4 is possibly less race-orientated and is even edging into an awesome sportive contender or century machine. There?s nothing to dislike about the Z4; the only problem was giving it back.
DistributorBespoke Cycling, 020 7739 0119, www.bespokecycling.com, www.parleecycles.com
Size rangeS, M, ML, L, XL
Weight19lb (excl. pedals)
GroupsetShimano Ultegra SL
DeviationsBlackwell carbon levers
Gear ratios53/39 with 12-23
WheelsControl Tech Carbon
TyresVittoria Corsa Tubulars
BarsPRO Vibe Carbon
StemPRO PLT Carbon
SaddleFizik Arione CX
CW FIRST IMPRESSION: 10/10
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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
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