Ten years ago Bob Parlee knew that carbon fiber bicycles would soon be the standard for racing, leisure, and everywhere in between. Through his extensive experience with carbon fiber sail boats, he was able to dream up how to build the most efficient, highest performing, and reliable carbon frame in the world. Ten years on, and he is still doing just that; producing the highest quality, highest performing carbon bicycle frames that money can buy. "Efficient use of material leads to good performance." I challenge anyone to locate one element of the Z1 that does not scream efficiency. Down to the methods by which the tubes are inspected, cut and prepped, how the lugs are wrapped, and how the frame is finished; you can be guaranteed that every bit of construction is performed with more attention and precision than you would expect in a bicycle. The Z1 has been pain-stakingly revised and tuned by Bob Parlee himself since the company began 10 years ago. Parlee is the house that the Z1 built; every bike they now build takes cues from the Z1, be it the simple, classic style, construction methods, or top tier materials; this is the frame that started it all.
Strengths: Silky ride but never numb. Fast. Classical looks, lovely quality.
Weaknesses: Cost-but you knew that anyway. Subtle style too 'quiet' for some?
A custom built bike starts from an advantage already; nothing beats a perfectly tuned fit even on a cheap still hack bike but the Parlee has a special magic. I describe it as a 'silken stilletto'. It has a lovely almost fluid ride quality, supressing buzz but always making you feel connected to the bike and the surface. I've ridden other carbon frames that insulate well but none with this special character. It also has no loss of real 'snap' when stomping hard on the pedals, or flogging up your favourite climb. Top that off with fabulous build and paint quality plus the exclusivity. It costs a shed load but it is truly, genuinely worth it.
Strengths: Stiff, light, balanced and telepathic handling. Amazing ride quality
Weaknesses: None, apart from the price
I first spoke with Barry of Bespoke Cycling in the spring of 2006 and ordered a full custom Z1SL. Unfortunately, the first batch of SL tubing wasn't up to scratch, so Parlee built me a standard Z1, which was delivered in time (just) to build up for the Etape du Tour (the Gap - Alpe D'Huez stage), so my first real ride was the Etape. The bike performed flawlessly (unlike me, as the Lauteret cooked me, then Alpe D'Huez with the temperature guage on my HRM showing 41 deg centigrade!). As its pretty light, it climbs brilliantly, with the Lightweight wheels being real easy to spin up to speed out of the hairpins. Descending is sure footed - a Parlee trait. All in all, just what I wanted.
At the end of the summer I spoke to Barry about getting the Z1SL sorted, so we tweeked the geometry slightly and in Jan 07 the new frame landed - 874 gms! Built up the same as the Z1 (which I got to keep for a great price), except full size chain rings (the Z1 has compact, so is my choice for european sportives with their longer climbs). Its so sweet. Plenty stiff, but great all day ride. Its also amazing well made - great attention to detail etc. Thoroughly recommended. So good, that I'm just ordering the TT frame (have a fitting tomorrow with Barry's new Retul kit).
Similar Products Used: Parlee Z1, Cannondale Black Lightning
Bike Setup: Full record ultra-torque, with full Ti 12-25 cassette. ZG Ti brakes with Lightweight (Swissstop) pads. Ritchey 4Axis stem and carbon WCS bars. Fizik carbon railed Arione saddle on Record carbon pin. Wheels - Lightweight Obermayers/Ventouxs or Campy Shamal Ultras, all shod with Continental GP4000s tubs. Campy Record Pro Fit pedals.
Hello, I just got a used 2011 felt z1 for my Dad and plan on putting a 2013 Campagnolo Athena triple crankset on it.
I'm looking at the width of that downtube and am having panic attacks that it is too wide and the chain will hit it.
Can anyone confirm that this combination will work?
Tha ... Read More »
I do road races, usually on bad roads. I'm coming from a Scott CR1, which was great, but I found it to be a little too twitchy on fast, bumpy descents. I'm considering the RS or Z1, but I don't want a "comfort" bike --- I want a legit racing bike. Your thoughts.Read More »
I do road races, usually on bad, torn-up roads. My Scott CR1 is a little too twitchy for fast, bumpy descents. Considering the Z1, but I don't want a "comfort" bike --- I want a legit racing bike. Your thoughts.Read More »
When will Felt post an actual photo of the Z1 frame on their website? I do not like the looks of the Z1 Frame color scheme and hope that seeing a true photo may help. I wish Felt had the same build and color scheme as the F3 in a Z series as I want a Z frame with a SRAM Red build.
I like the col ... Read More »