A weekend of no racing and the build up to Christmas has given Glen the chance to ride some longer miles, catch up with mates and explore somewhere new. So he spent a few days this week on our demo Parlee Altum Disc...
Parlee make big claims about the Altum Disc (there “go-anywhere” road bike) even though it sits at the lower end of their range – that said anything with a Parlee badge is going to be a bit special. Although there’s no custom geometry you can have your Altum painted however you like and of course we can build it to just about any specification. The one I’m riding has ENVE wheels and Di2, but we’ve built Altums to suit all budgets.
“One of the biggest game changers that road riders have seen in the past few years is the emergence of disc brake technologies”. English riders may find this all a bit over-the-top but it really is true – love them or loath them disc brakes are here and they’re here to stay. Personally I can’t wait for the UCI to allow them in races and I think once this happens the calliper brake will be resigned to the scrap-pile. The modulation of a well set-up hydraulic disc brake far out-performs a rim brake and there’s very little drop in performance in either hot or wet weather. In short, if you’re buying a bike now, buy a hydraulic disc braked bike.
Out on the road these kind improvements make a huge difference when the conditions are challenging. Hydraulic levers are easier to use when with cold wet hands and the confidence you get from good brakes means that even with damp roads, gravel or mud, braking can be left much later. Happily this also makes you faster – any racer will tell you that lots of braking in a short period is much better than dragging the brakes or using them for a long period. This concept works exactly the same on the road, riding with your mates and it will keep you fresher and help keep the group together too.
But it’s not just the brakes that work well on this bike. Parlee have gone to great lengths to lay-up a great frame. The workmanship that goes into a carbon frame is a skilful and time-consuming process. You may imagine frames’ being popped out of moulds every couple of minutes on a production line, but in actual fact most of the frame builders will make only one frame a day. They lay up precision cut carbon sheets from a book in a precise order, one sheet at a time. The forks often take even longer and can require more individual sheets. The process relies on the same care and attention that is lavished upon Parlee’s fully custom frames and is the reason why quality carbon costs a little more.
That quality shines through in the ride – the bike feels lively, but planted. It responds to the effort you put in, shooting up the climbs when you stand on the pedals, but equally when you go back down the other side it feels dependable and alert. If it were a human it would be Samuel L Jackson – cool, calm and collected, but ready for action when needed!
The other technology in this particular bike which is here to stay is the through-axles – The Altum can actually accept all kinds of different axles but really it’s been designed around a screw-in through-axle. This greatly improves the stiffness of the drivetrain and therefore its efficiency and it also removes all of the flex in the fork giving you more control over cornering. When you’re really braking very hard it also removes any chatter from the brake, although you need quite a bit of grip to feel the benefit of this. Along with discs, most frames will soon swap to through-axles and many wheels are already convertible.
The demo bike we have is a great way to try all of these new technologies out. If you’re in two minds about disc brakes, through-axles, 1x, electronic groupsets or bigger tyres my best piece of advice with a bike like this is to keep an open mind and come and try one. The industry is investing heavily in all of these technologies for one reason, the same reason why we’re behind these bikes in the shop, and it’s because they work. We ride these bikes every day now and we’ve got the choice. For me there’s nothing as quick as a quality 1x road bike with Di2 and hydraulic discs, but more importantly there’s nothing as fun – riding the Altum Disc made me smile and that’s why I ride bikes. Cheers to Parlee for making me smile!
For more information, pricing and deals, click on this text!
…coming up, Pip’s testing the Focus Paralane at the moment which is also available to demo – see what she thinks next week!…
Photos by Pip Jenkins. Words by Glen Whittington #aeightracer
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He writes his own blog at aeightracer.wordpress.com and contributes to Simpson Mag. He races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey, South-East and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and 'Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany @eightbikeco #aeightracer