Super-Light Exotica

Last week was a big one for custom bikes, with a couple of custom Parlee’s and a custom S-Works leaving us. It seems we’re continuing the trend this week with the delivery of another custom Parlee, this one a hand-made Z3 masterpiece with absolutely no detail left untouched.

The Frame

The rider wanted something with a moderately traditional look, but in a compact geometry frame. He wanted a bike that he could ride for years to come, something reliable, something handmade that was tuned just for his riding style and use (long rides with a lot of climbing and high-speed descending).

For the frame, we selected a semi-custom (handmade, but standard size) Parlee Z3 – their compact geometry version of the venerable Z2. The Z3 is a classic design, evocative of the history of the sport, and fairly traditional in its technical approach, with an external headset and Ti dropouts (those dropouts are notable for being milled from a solid billet of 6/4 titanium – very difficult to get right, even harder to make them this beautiful. The dropouts are both mechanically and chemically bonded to the chain stays/seat stays for incredible rigidity and longevity (let’s not forget – every Parlee carries a true life-time warranty)). A nod to modernity comes in the compact nature of the frame and in the press-fit BB30 bottom bracket.

The client wanted a completely stealth look, so we specified a wax finish of the raw carbon with the logos laser etched – this example uses Parlee’s ‘Race’ logos.

The Rider

One of the key aspects that we were asked to address was weight – the client wanted a light build. A seriously light build.

This can be an issue with bigger/heavier riders, but since the client is built like a light-weight climber and not a sprinter, we could opt for some fairly exotic parts (some that carry rider weight limits) without concern for longevity as he simply wasn’t heavy enough to stress such exotic components in any meaningful or lasting way.

Comfort and stiffness was taken care of by the frame set (Parlee manage that rare trick of being all-day comfortable while providing prodigious degrees of stiffness where it counts), light-weight was taken care of by a careful component selection.

A note on the customisation level available to clients opting for Parlee frame sets – the client had ridden many frames where the rear brake cable stops were mounted a little too high on the radius of the top tube, he found that he’d knock his knees on them. He asked if we could accommodate moving the cable stops on his Z3 as far downward as possible – the requirement was put to Parlee and they didn’t even blink, the stops (being handmade, just like every other part on the frame) were moved and now pose no risk to the knees. That’s the level of customisation available!

Everything was in place for an epic build that we knew would meet all of the expressed needs and still be entirely robust and a joy for many, many years to come. We just didn’t know that the final build would come in as light as it did!

Z3 Downtube & Tune Bottle Cage Detail
Berk Composites Lupina Saddle Detail

The Build

Some bikes can be a struggle to build, they almost feel as though they don’t want to come together, that they’re fighting you. Some bikes build up smoothly and easily, almost eager to be done with the shop and out on the road – this was one of those builds.

It must be confessed, we’ve been saving the best bits for last here – the full build list and final weight. We won’t keep you in suspense any longer…

Full Build List:

Total Bike Weight: 6.04 kilograms.


There are times when a client will know precisely what they want and how to achieve it. There are times when we’re given a brief and left to our own devices to achieve a result that exceeds the remit. There are times when the creation of a dream is a collaborative endeavour – this was one of those times. It can sometimes be the case that in collaborating you risk the ending up with a ‘designed by committee’ look, but not this time. This time we were all on the same page, a very light, very black and very beautiful page.

We’d like to thank the client for trusting us with his vision and allowing us to deliver on his expectations – we hope we exceeded what you thought possible.

Custom Parlee Z3
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