Up Close with the Parlee Altum
We are lucky enough to get to play with tons of high end equipment, but rarely do we find ourselves getting as excited for a new widget as we are for the new Parlee Altum. We’ve had a complete bike for a couple of weeks (which unfortunately due to some of the components on it, we can’t show it yet) Having ridden the Altum a few times I can say that so far it has been everything we’ve hoped it would be. A near perfect blending of the Z5 and ESX with a few new touches. But for now we’re going to mostly look at the frame set because actual weights are something we haven’t seen yet.
What’s similar to the Z5 is the stellar ride quality and weight. A near perfect blend of stiffness and comfort as well as a sub 800 gram weight. What’s incorporated from the ESX are some of the aerodynamic features such as the top tube / head tube junction and the integrated seat collar. One new feature that we particularly like is the flex fit. Flex fit is comprised of 3 top caps that replace the need for offering the frame in standard and tall options. This not only gives the ability for a more upright position but one that still looks clean and aggressive. Tire clearance is also increased so that 28c tires will now fit both front and rear. Also this bike has perhaps the best universal wiring options that we’ve seen to date. Clean, easy routing for either mechanical or electronic group sets.
Parlee Altum Frame Weight
Our frame is a Medium (54.5cm) Normally we don’t weigh our frames with seat collars because it’s something that can easily be changed out. We’ll weigh the Altum the same way, but the seat collar is not something that is replaceable. Claimed weight for the Altum is a range of 700-820 grams. Our medium came in at 781.4 grams. The seat collar is 20.3 grams, which could be trimmed down to around 16 grams with some tuning and titanium hardware.
The Parlee Altum Fork
Claimed weight for the fork was originally announced at 280 grams. But actual weight came out at 355.4 grams. So what happened? The original fork was spec’d with a steerer length of 300 mm but was then changed to be a 400 mm which is where we’re told the extra weight came from. This is quite long for a steerer, Enve for example uses a 350mm steerer and Thm uses a 300mm steerer. So we cut our fork down to the spec’d 300 mm length and the weight dropped to 312.6 which is much closer to the claimed weight. This is still well more than enough steerer length for our medium frame, even with the tallest flex fit top cap and additional spacers. We’ll be cutting another 60-70 mm from the steerer and expect that this will drop the weight by another 20-30 grams which should bring it down to the claimed 280-290 gram range.
The seatpost was also a really nice surprise. At 185 grams claimed weight (182.4 actual weight) it’s not among the lightest posts available, but considering it’s a 400mm with a full range clamping zone, no weight limit and is a set-back, that’s certainly a respectable weight. Especially given that we’ll be cutting more than 10 cm of length off which we expect will drop it to just under 150 grams. It’s about 10 grams lighter than the comparable stock Enve seatpost.
Like we said earlier, we’ll be posting a full bike review and a complete build in the future. This will include some exciting new components that we haven’t seen until now. What we can say is that the initial ride quality of the Altum is everything we expect and meets the goals that Parlee set for the Altum. When contemplating a versatile platform for your next complete bike build the Altum is worthy of your consideration and should excel in all but the most aerodynamic of needs.
Of course, it’s not just about stiffness and weight. Much of the carbon layup strategy is based on Parlee’s goal of attaining a certain ride quality. The Altum is engineered to feel “snappy” when you stand up and sprint but have just enough compliance, especially in the rear triangle, to give it a smooth ride quality. All of the Altum models use a traditional round 31.6mm seatpost with a hidden, integrated binder, and we’re introducing a new specially designed composite post that weights just 185 grams and adds road-smoothing compliance. — Parlee Cycles