Riding Parlee's Aero Road RZ7

above: Barry's bike on test

"A spectacular return to form..."

This bike is not good for me... I have 3 other bikes all equipped with powermeters, and all my training is wattage driven. But my test RZ7 has no powermeter on it - and thats a problem because it's so good I have ridden it exclusively for the last 3 weeks. Hard rides, easy rides, routes that feature climbs, fast group rides - I have done them all on the RZ7!

I will be first to admit I am the wrong person to give an unbiased view on Parlee; I have worked with the guys in Peabody, MA since 2005 and have owned 10 different Parlees in that time.

I have two of the flagship Z-Zero frames, but I've also loved the stock bikes - the Z4 and the Z5 in particular were fantastic.

Although the Altum was a technical improvement, the design looked a bit 'odd' to some eyes, and the ESX aero bike was a technical tour de force but never really took off in sales.

Given aero bikes are becoming increasingly popular for amateur riders we had high hopes that the RZ7 would be a success.

I am pleased to say its a spectacular return to form.

It's without question the most comfortable and compliant 'aero' bike I have ever ridden; January is the time for endless base miles and it is a perfect steed for 5-hour+ rides.

Frame weight comes in just under 900gms; not the very lightest, but not far off, and you could certainly build a lightweight climbing bike with bling parts.

below: the Factory Edition build marked the launch of the RZ7 with 100 numbered frames, built with some properly bling components:

The bike I tested was built with SRAM Force AXS and Reynolds AR41 wheels. The wheels were surprisingly good for a brand we rarely see specced; the mid-depth rim profile makes for good 'daily drivers' - though I would personally prefer to go deeper (say Zipp 404/ENVE 5.6 depth).

Force AXS is great and performs well, like its bigger brother RED AXS. There's the same sublime hood shape and ease of set-up. But it misses some of the magic of RED; the Force crank and especially the chainrings look a bit cheap in comparison; which is a shame at this price point.

The traditionally styled round carbon Parlee bars have caused a bit of controversy in our shop; we are all used to aero bikes having flat/aero bars (think Madone/Venge etc). So they came as a bit of a surprise. Also I found that the Garmin mount sat a little too high for my liking (meaning that the Garmin ended up higher than the bars and not flush). A new, lower mount is coming though.

The round bars of the RZ7 may look odd for an aero bike, but it took me three weeks to realise they are perfect for the bike if you realise it's not a pure 'aero bike' per se... instead it's just a sublime all-round road bike that happens to be aero.

If you've previously owned a Parlee you'll already be a convert to Bob's obsession with ride quality. This has that, it's just you happen to be riding that bit quicker. I have done a decent bit of climbing on the bike as well; it's very snappy and instantly responds to changes in effort.

Without power data it's hard to monitor efforts; I basically look at my HR and then stop the clock at the top of the climb. I have been really surprised at the times, given its still Jan and I am carrying more than a bit of winter timber.

If you got your wheel choice right (something like ENVE 3.4 depth) this is absolutely a bike you could take onto a Haute Route-style mountainous parcours.

Your group will love you when in the valley; motoring along at 40km/h is where this bike really shines; because it's so stable and comfortable you don't realise you are going so fast - think Porsche 991 turbo vs 991GT3. I am sure you could race a crit on it quite effectively; but the longer the ride the more you'll appreciate it's qualities.

above: Barry's bike out on test

The RZ7 is a sublime bike; it's the best bike I have ridden in 2020 - admittedly not hard given it's the only bike I have ridden! It is going back soon and I want to maximise my time on it before someone else gets a go (it will soon be joining our demo fleet in London).

I need to test some other bikes soon, but have consoled myself with the fact that I'll be ordering a personal one for myself to replace this one. It's that good - I am putting my money where my mouth is.

I think I will be going for a build with Red AXS, the integrated Quarq PM and Enve 5.6 wheels.

The only question is do I go stealth black (which is very handsome in the flesh), or do I go for the new stock Enzo Red finish... or all white (I think white bikes and deep carbon wheels look mint). Decisions decisions, a nice problem to have!

below: the stock Enzo Red colour way is absolutely stunning. This, or the matte black of our test bike, are available as standard, with a wealth of custom options also on tap:

As always with our test bikes, we'd love to keep them, but there simply isn't room for them all. Barry's test rig, as shown and described above, will soon be available for sale. A great opportunity to pick up a lightly used RZ7 at a great price, fully serviced and ready to go - contact us to register your interest.


- See some of our other RZ7 builds in the Bespoke Build Gallery

- Check out the standard configurations available in our Online Shop

- Or if you'd rather go full custom, the RZ7 frameset can be built however you like - see our interactive Bike Builder for inspiration!

- Register interest in this bike

- Regardless of whether you're looking for an "off the peg" build or a full custom option, standard paint or a Parlee Paint Lab creation, we will ensure that your new bike meets your exact requirements and fits perfectly. Get in touch to discuss options with our Parlee specialists.

below: We work with Parlee's paint shop to offer an unlimited range of custom options; not just colour but every aspect of the design, so you can make your RZ7 truly unique. This gorgeous green Gecko is featured in our Build Gallery:

Ride quality is just something I am not prepared to compromise on

Bob Parlee

below: RED with ENVE - this recent RZ7 build takes the same frameset as Barry's test build and dials the components up to max. See the full photo set here in our Build Gallery.