EB14: All-New Parlee Altum w/ Disc & Rim Brake Models, Plus Lower Price ESX Aero Road Bike
Parlee launched one completely new model, with three versions, at Eurobike, plus a more budget friendly edition of their ESX aero road bike.
The Altum, shown above in it’s top form with founder and designer Bob Parlee, replaces the stock Z5 series of bikes. Sitting at the base of Parlee’s Z-series hierarchy, the Z5 was their semi-customizeable stock frame that provided a lightweight, fantastic riding road bike with Parlee’s signature comfort and performance. The Altum looks to improve on every aspect of that while also adding a much more affordable disc brake option to the line up.
Three version will be offered: The Altum is the top of the range and replaces the Z5 SLi. The Altum R gets a slightly heavier, lower level carbon and replaces the Z5i. The Altum Disc gets the same geometry as the rim brake models but is disc specific with convertible rear dropouts. All of them get a new Parlee fork, and the top model gets their new Parlee carbon seatpost.
Ride on for the complete tech breakdown, actual weight, and a look at one amazing custom paint job!
The Altum R, shown here in blue, has a claimed frame weight of 810g and will retail for $3,999 for frame, fork and headset.
The raised top tube at the head tube allows them to use an integrated headset spacer, which is available in three heights: 5mm, 15mm and 25mm.
This does away with the need for standard and tall frames, which means fewer frame SKUs. The geometry leans towards the taller option from before since that’s what they sold the most of.
Modular frame plugs make holes for Di2, mechanical and hydraulic lines through the downtube. They say it makes building the bike about 75% faster than with the Z5.
The head tube cap turns with the wheel.
Tire clearance is bumped to fit up to 28c tire and wider rims.
The 31.6 seatpost is held in place with an inline clamp, just like the ESX.
Tube profiles and cross sections grew from the Z5, with more dramatic ovalized and rounded shapes. BB is PressFit 30.
The downtube is nearly as wide as the BB shell, and the chainstays take full advantage of the space before curving back inward to improve foot clearance a bit.
All frames are mechanical and electronic ready out of the box.
The Altum and Altum R use standard 130mm road bike spacing for the rear axle.
The Altum gets a lighter carbon layup for a frame weight of just 750g. Across the board, the Altum is about 100g lighter per frame than the comparable Z5. It’s shown here running SRAM Red and a two-port frame insert.
The complete bike with SRAM Red, ENVE wheels, Michelin tires and Fizik saddle comes in at 6.14kg (13.54lb).
The Altum Disc’s frame comes in at a claimed 890g.
The fork runs the brake hose through the crown and out the inside of the leg. All of Parlee’s bikes spec a 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 tapered fork, which was hard to find other than a few options, namely ENVE. Their new ones are designed in house and made at the same foreign factory as the Altum. The forks weigh in at a claimed 280g (Altum), 330g (Altum R) and 360g (Altum Disc).
The rear brake sits nicely inside the rear triangle with plenty of cable length in front of to accommodate virtually any brand’s caliper.
The Altum Disc uses a swappable dropout to let it run 135mm QR or 142×12 thru axles.
The dropout parts bolt onto the carbon section, sandwiching it with an inner and outer metal place.
The parts for the thru axle are shown here.
The rim brake bikes will ship in popular sizes by October, and all sizes and the disc brake version by December. Perhaps one of our favorite features is the large but almost hidden logo placement on the bottom of the downtube.
Parlee had to make their own post for the ESX aero road bikes to fit their Recurve tube shape, so they went ahead and used the head of it to make their own 31.6 post. They wanted something that was easy to adjust and wasn’t fussy to assemble.
It’s just 185g, and they say the ride quality is very nice thanks to a custom layup schedule honed from years of making bike tubes. There’s a bit of flex built in to smooth the ride. Setback options are 25mm and 0mm. They’ll offer it aftermarket eventually, but for now it’s only available on their higher end framesets. Once inventory is better, likely Spring 2015, they’ll be available on more models and complete bikes.
The ESX aero road bike was released last November and started shipping this spring. Now, there’s a lower cost ESX-R that comes in at about the same price as the Altum R. Frame, fork and seatpost will come in at $4,499.
The ESX-R is just 95g heavier than the premium model, but uses all the same molds and wind tunnel proven shapes.
When we visited Parlee’s Massachusetts factory a couple years ago, they provided a detailed look at their custom painting prowess. Well, this urban camo number takes the cake.