Parlee Z3, upgraded

Happy New Year and welcome to 2022!

As I mentioned before, I wanted to swap the 11-28 cassette for an 11-32.  The downside is that the Shimano 9070 rear derailleur is only recommended for cassettes up to 28t cogs.  There are some workarounds available to increase the capacity, but the shifting quality reportedly drops off noticeably.

I ordered an 11-32 11-speed cassette by Sunrace, partially because of price, and partially because it was actually available.  Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassettes are difficult to find now, as is the case for many bike components.  Even if the quality isn’t as high, I can still determine if the cassette will work and what changes are necessary.

When the cassette was delivered, the quality seemed quite good.  When I installed it, the lockring wasn’t sitting square with the end of the freehub, and as a result the 11t cog was wobbling a little.  I swapped the Ultegra lockring back on, and everything is lined up properly and without a wobble.

After reinstalling the wheel and relinking the chain, I stayed in the high end of the cassette while I tested the shifting.  It shifted but not quite as well as the Ultegra cassette.  The Ultegra chain was sized to fit the 28t cog, and wanted to replace it with a new one that was still at full length.

Anticipating this, I picked up a new DuraAce chain, and sized it to big-big plus 2 rivets, broke the link, and installed the quick link.  This way if I were to shift into the big-big combination, the rear derailleur and the bike frame would not be damaged.  If the chain is even one link too short the damage could be catastrophic (for the bike) and painful (for me).  Definitely not worth the risk.

On the workstand, the first shift up to the 32t cog was uneventful, but the top jockey wheel was making contact with the 32t cog.  This was expected.  I turned the “B” screw in 2 full turns and it was quiet.

Since the weather was good (for the moment) I took a short ride to check it out.  The 32t cog was quiet and worked well.  But the next smaller cog was noisy, indicating incorrect alignment.  One notch of micro-adjusting toward the high end of the cassette and that noise is gone.  Good shifting up and down the cassette now.

It will take a longer ride to be sure that everything is adjusted properly, but the initial results are better than expected.  I still have 2-3 turns left on the “B” screw, but I don ‘t think those will be needed.

Now that this upgrade is in place, I’ll call the Parlee finished.  Now to take advantage of the next opportunity to ride.

Parlee Z3, the wrap

Pairing the phone app with the DI2 system was easy enough to do, and with that you can update firmware without having to drag out the laptop and the charger and plugging everything together.  Nice.

And I found out that my Wahoo Elemnt Roam will pair with the DI2 system as well, displaying a nice little graphic so you can see what chainring/cassette combination is being used.  It’s a nice touch.  The really nice part is that the Wahoo will display the battery charge level for the DI2 system.

So the Parlee is finished.  Well, mostly.

I would still like to make one more change.  I’d like to run an 11-32 cassette in place of the existing 11-28 cassette.  Some of the hills on routes I ride are difficult, so if I can add a bit of low-end gearing to help it only makes sense.  The difficulty is that the Dura Ace RD may not have enough clearance or chainwrap capacity to work with the 32 tooth cog.  When the new cassette gets here I’ll see what can be done about that.

In the meantime, and because the cassette swap isn’t a major visual change, let’s get to the photos.

Parlee Z3, part 3

Now that the fancy new electronic shifting is working well, on to the more usual bike work.

I cut and installed paint film on the frame in three places – the bottom of the downtube, the top of the DS chainstay, and the side of the headtube where the rear brake cable touches it.

I had ordered a mount for the “A” junction that replaces one of the headset spacers, so that went on next, then the stem, and a spacer above the stem.  Set the headset preload, and tightened everything up using a torque wrench.

Next I installed the wheels, and adjusted the brake pads to proper alignment with the rims.  Tightened everything down and they’re ready to go.

I removed the bar tape, and adjusted the lever to point straight ahead – the right shifter was canted inward a little.  I removed the front brake cable and housing, and cut a piece of the Jagwire red compressionless housing to fit.  Reinstalled the cable, fed it through the clamp on the caliper and tightened it up.  I left about 2 inches of cable exposed and cut it, then crimped on a nice red cable end.  The front brake is finished.

I removed the rear brake cable and housing, and cut two pieces of the Jagwire red compressionless housing to fit.  Reinstalled the cable, fed it through the clamp on the caliper and tightened it up.  I left about 2 inches of cable exposed and cut it, then crimped on another nice red cable end.  The rear brake is finished.

I used some narrow pieces of self-fusing slilcone tape to hold the brake housing and shifter wires in place, then wrapped the bars with new bar tape, and fastened the end of the wrap with more self-fusing silicone tape.

The last step was to install a pair of Arundel carbon bottle cages.

It’s ready to go.

Parlee Z3, part 2

The parts are all here and I’m hoping I didn’t miss anything.  I’ll know soon enough, so time to dig in and get this bike ready to go.

First things first, let’s get the DI2 shifting set up.  The battery fits into the lower hollow part of the seatpost, so it comes out with the saddle/seatpost.  Easy enough to replace, and the BT module plugs in at the same time.  Installing the new seatpost just required the seatpost clamp to be installed first, then the battery into the seatpost.  A little carbon assembly past and it’s in place, in approximately the right position.  After some measurements and adjustments, the saddle is properly position fore and aft, and the correct seatpost height is set.  Snugged it down, but not too tight, since we still have to test the shifting.

I connected the charger to the “A” junction box under the stem, and let it charge for a couple of hours, per the directions.  Once that was complete, I plugged the charger/programming cable into my laptop and started the Shimano E-Tube software.  It connected to the system and told me that there were software updates available.  I updated the charger first, having read that this step should be performed first, and without updating any other parts of the system.

Now that the charger is updated, I reconnected to the laptop and ran through the remaining software updates.  Once complete, I checked that the installed components were recognized and enabled the “Synchro-Shift” option.  This option automatically shifts the FD (the chainrings) depending on the chain position on the cassette and the direction of the shift.  All you need to do is to shift the RD (cassette) up or down as needed and the system will shift the FD (chainrings) as needed.

The first problem – the RD would not shift to the smallest cog on the cassette (the 11 tooth cog).  I could not figure out what was wrong, all other shifts were fine, the low limit screw was properly set, and the high limit screw was backed almost completely out.  I kept thinking it over and figured out the problem.  Shimano has you shift approximately to the middle of the cassette, and then enable “micro-adjust” mode so you can fine-tune the left-right position of the RD.  The position had been adjusted to the left one complete cog’s worth, effectively eliminating the smallest cog position.  Once I figured this out, it took less than 5 minutes to have the system shifting perfectly up and down all 11 cogs on the cassette.  Watching the synchro shift mode change the FD as you shift the RD was actually pretty cool.

There are two buttons on the shifters, at the top of each shifter.  You can program the buttons to several different functions.  I chose to program the right button to shift the RD down (towards the largest cog) and the left button to shift the RD up (towards the smallest cog).  That’s working properly and the DI2 system is ready to go.

Next, on to the remaining upgrades.

Parlee Z3, part 1

The Parlee is here, and I’ve checked the chain elongation and a new chain is needed.  Dura Ace chain is difficult to source, so I went with Ultegra chain for now.

Removed the wheels and went over the frame from top to bottom, front to back, and everywhere in between.  It is in excellent shape.  The rim brake pads are SwissStop yellow pads, by all reviews and experience an excellent choice for the carbon rims.  They have plenty of life, so no need to replace them.

The bar tape does need to be replaced, and while the tape is off it makes a lot of sense to replace the brake cables and housing.  So some red Jagwire compressionless housing is in order.

I also chose to replace the seatpost clamp and the headset spacers with red custom anodized parts, they look great on the carbon weave frame.

Now to the part I have little to no familiarity with – Shimano DI2 electronic shifting.  So I started reading.  This system is a Dura Ace 9070 system, and it came with an SM-BTR2 battery.  The seller did not include a charger for the battery in the sale, but he was nice enough to charge the battery before he shipped the bike.  This would give me some time to pick up a charger.

However, there is a newer battery available, BT-DN110-A, that also has an upgraded chip in it to support additional shift modes beyond manual shifting.  Not knowing how long the original battery had been in service, I decided to purchase an upgraded battery.  There is also a BT module that allows the shift parameters to be customized using a phone app from Shimano, so I added that to the order.  This stuff ain’t cheap, but this isn’t a cheap bike either.

I swapped the Fabric saddle from the Merckx onto the Parlee, but I couldn’t get the proper distance between the handlebars and the saddle.  The seatpost that came on the bike was a zero setback model and I needed a setback seatpost to get the saddle into the proper position.  I found one that will work so that’s handled.

Now the dreaded “parts pause” takes effect.  Figure out what you need, order the parts, and wait for them to be delivered.

Lugged carbon

I’ve been looking for a lugged carbon frameset in my size, or more specifically a Look 585.  But it seems that once these bikes are sold, they never reappear.  If the bike is actually that good, then I’m on the right track, even if my search has so far been unsuccessful.

So I decided to take yet another look on ebay for a Look 585.  You can undoubtedly see why this search might prove challenging – LOOKing for a LOOK 585.  Not exactly a phrase that’s all that unique.  Still, I did find one, but it was sized as a medium frame.  I messaged the seller and asked for confirmation of the seat tube length.  While I was waiting for a reply I checked several other places where high-end used bikes were sold, with no luck.  Then I visited a bicycle web forum where I’ve been a member for several years.

And I saw a Parlee Z3 for sale.  Parlee is one of the few companies manufacturing lugged carbon bicycle frames, and their bikes are very well thought of.  I messaged the seller, and we discussed the bike.  He sent links to additional images and I looked them over very carefully.  The bike looks great.  It has Shimano Dura Ace 11 speed electronic shifting, Knight carbon wheels with DT Swiss 240 hubs, and a Chris King headset – all top of the line components.

Never hearing back from the ebay seller, I decided to buy the Parlee.  We agreed on a price, and both of us preferring to avoid fees on the funds transfer, I sent him a check – a stamp is significantly less than the fees.  We agreed that he would give it a few days to be sure the check had cleared my bank, and then he shipped the bike.

Waiting for it to arrive from the west coast was a bit worrisome, perhaps anticipation would be a better word choice.

It got here in fine shape, no damage that I could see.  A great starting point.