Earlier this week we learned that the US-based high-end bike brand Parlee has filed for bankruptcy - and while many hearts are still raw from sadness over this news, we thought we’d turn that grief into inspiration and have a look at one of the benchmarks of Parlee’s expertise.
Parlee was founded in 2000 by Massachusetts-based high-performance boat builder Bob Parlee, and quickly became known for its specialist, custom, and often stunning carbon fibre frames which aimed to provide speed without compromising ride quality. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 6 February. This means that it might not go down, but rather be saved if external partners get in, so don't lose hope just yet.
Right, financial situations aside, let’s have a look at one of Parlee’s best-selling bikes, the Chebacco.
First introduced in 2015, the Chebacco is the brand’s all-road model, with the capability to shred on gravel and fly on the tarmac. We reviewed this very bike soon after its launch back in 2016, when Dave Arthur rode it at the UK’s largest gravel event, the Dirty Reiver, and subsequently rewarded it with a four-star review.
While the Chebacco here is a little, let's say, retro in looks (let's not even mention the kit), Parlee’s since developed the Chebacco into two models: the Chebacco XD for rough gravel and adventures, and the more premium Chebacco XD LE.
The Chebacco can take up to 45mm tyres and since 2016, the frame has got multiple more mounting points to the frame and fork - back in 2016 those were limited to the bottle and mudguard mounts.
The Chebacco was designed to be as comfortable on chunky gravel tyres as on 25mm road tyres, and Parlee said the biggest thing it tried to bring to the bike was a road bike feel, which meant a lot of work went into designing the main triangle.
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Compared to a traditional endurance road bike, the Chebacco has a slightly slacker head angle, longer wheelbase and shorter head tube, in addition to offering space for much wider tyres and mudguards.
The Parlee expertise in carbon is visible in the Chebacco: this frame has 870-980g weight, with the complete build with Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and gravel tyres tipping the scales at 8.51kg.
The bike here rolls on Mavic Ksyrium Pro All-Road wheels and Clement tyres, and Parlee’s own finishing kit including the wide diameter 31.6mm seatpost.
Parlee has extended its carbon expertise to the handlebars and stem, too, and they are the expected premium quality and price-point items we’ve come to expect. The Handlebars retail for £320, the stem £260 and the seatpost £250.
Parlee has equipped the Chebacco with a chunky 35mm diameter handlebar, which should enhance stiffness while allowing weight to be reduced.
The bars are turning on a Cane Creek integrated headset, and at the drivetrain, we have something that some of us actually might want to wave goodbyes to, the Press Fit 30 bottom bracket.
And if you are curious about the price of the bike… the 2016 version was £3,499 for the frameset only.
Let us know in the comments what you think about this bike and make sure to check out our other bike at bedtime features.
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