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 was able to find a new DuraAce chain, and sized it to big-big plus 2 rivets, pushed out the pin, 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.

2022 Riding Events

The emails announcing upcoming events are starting to roll in, so I suppose it’s time to begin planning for the 2022 events.

I need to get the planning going for the 2022 edition of the Bourbon and Tobacco Tour.  I’m thinking this one will be up here in Indiana and I’ve selected a route.  It’s not an easy one but it’s not a leg-killer either.  Plan on saying hello to Bean Blossom and Nashville along the route.

The first event on the calendar is Storming of Thunder Ridge, in and around Lynchburg, Virginia on May 22nd.  A very well organized ride, and the climb up to the ridge is not an easy one.

Registered for the Unbound Gravel 100 mile ride in Emporia, Kansas in early June.  There is a drawing for the start positions from the folks that register, the drawing is at the end of January.  Might get to ride, might not.  Only one way to find out.  UPDATE 1/26:  I was lucky enough to be selected in the lottery!  So I need to get the Focus Mares build finished, and get the miles in so that I’m ready for the ride.  Found an airbnb up towards Topeka so lodging is handled.













Also planning on a repeat of the  Big Dam Bridge Century in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the end of September.  Another well organized ride and a lot of fun.

Of course, the Hilly Hundred in Ellettsville, Indiana is on the calendar for early October.  Live bands at the rest stops and just a good time on the bike.  And whether you like it or not, Mt Tabor awaits.

Other rides will undoubtedly be added to the plans as they come up.

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.

2021 Riding Events

This year, the events started to return to a semblance of normalcy.  Not completely back to normal, but at least moving in that direction.

I only rode two events this year, a repeat of a previous event and also a new event for me.

The first one was the new event for me, the Big Dam Bridge Century in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I rode with my good friend Bob, and his friend Diane.  It is the largest event I’ve ridden, and was very well organized.  Well, the event was well organized – me, on the other hand, not so much.  I left my handlebar bag in the back of Bob’s car and didn’t go back to get it – a decision I would come to regret.

I got a flat 4 1/2 miles from the finish, but with no tools, no spare tube, and no way to inflate it anyway, my riding day was done.  Completely my fault, and as it turned out I would have had time to go back and get it.  By just retrieving the bag I may have prevented the flat in the first place.  Finagles Law was out in force.  Like carrying an umbrella can prevent rain, having everything you need to repair a flat can sometimes prevent the flat.  Live and learn I reckon…

Still, it was a great ride and a lot of fun.  Some good climbs and descents, and lots of people out on bikes.  What’s not to like?

The second event was the Hilly Hundred in Ellettsville, Indiana near Bloomington.  I rode this event in 2019, in the all-day deluge on Saturday, and the much, much better weather on Sunday.  This year, I rode with friends from the Columbus area and it was a good time.  We had good riding weather both days this year.  This might be my favorite ride that I’ve done, as you might guess since I’ve done it more than once.

Saturday’s ride was a cool start but the hills warmed you up pretty quickly.  This seemed like an easier day than I was expecting, but I have been doing a lot of hill work so maybe that helped.  Sunday, on the other hand, was a hard day on the bike.  The hills were harder on this route, and just when you think you might make it back, you turn onto Mt Tabor road and you know what’s coming – the climb up Mt Tabor.  It’s a bugger of a climb, and you don’t have a lot left in the tank after that one.  Then you descend into Stinesville and the last rest stop, and you think you’re going to finish just fine.  But no, you have to climb out of Stinesville and those aren’t easy climbs after the miles you’ve already done.  But you persevere because that’s the way you roll, and you finish.  A great feeling of accomplishment.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re first or last or somewhere in between, it matters that you challenged yourself.  I’ll be back in 2022.

I’m hoping that more events come back on the calendar in 2022.  Good luck to all that rode these events and I hope to see more folks out riding next year.

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.

Trailer updates

If you’ve been following along, you know that I purchased a tractor with a loader and a bush hog, and a 20 foot flatbed trailer.  After doing some reading, I found that my trailer needs some equipment to meet the federal requirements.  And to pull the trailer with my truck, it needs some additional equipment as well.

For the truck, I need to add a brake controller.  I’ve never had a trailer with brakes before, so I didn’t need this until now.  To connect the trailer and activate the brakes, I also need a 7 pin connector.  Right now, I only have a 4-pin connector that handles trailer lighting only.

I decided to replace/upgrade the trailer lighting by replacing the existing two clearance lights with LED versions, and while I’m at it I’m also adding two additional clearance lights on each side.  Now there will be a total of six clearance lights on the trailer – two at the front corners, two in front of the fenders, and two behind the fenders.  Also, the running, turn, and stop lights at the back will be switched out for LED versions.

Surprise #1 – because my trailer is more than 80 inches in width, I need 3 red lights in the middle at the back of the trailer.  Because the ramps hook into the channel at the back of the trailer, I’m not yet sure where I can place them.  Under the channel won’t work very well, because the trailer is fairly close to the ground and if it bottomed out on the ground, those lights would be history.  I’ll see what I can come up with for them.

Surprise #2 – it is required that trailers with electric brakes have a breakaway system, that applies the brakes if there is a catastrophic disconnect from the towing vehicle.  Basically it is a small battery that connects into the brake wiring, with a switch that is held in the off position by a pin.  The pin is connected to the towing vehicle by a cable and if the trailer disconnects, the pin will be pulled (turning the switch on) and the battery will energize the brakes and stop the trailer.

The breakaway regulation went into effect in 2005 and my trailer was made in 2017, but it didn’t have the breakaway system installed.  And my trailer didn’t grow in width because of excessive calories in it’s diet, so I don’t know why the required center lights weren’t installed.  I’m not sure how that is possible.  It’s like selling a car without the required brake lights.

But I’ll get all of this in place so the trailer is legal and safe.  If a friend hadn’t mentioned the breakaway requirement I would never have known.  I was searching for lighting requirements, not for braking system requirements.

Folks, make sure your trailers are safe and legal.  Don’t wait until there’s an accident and find out that you don’t have the required equipment on your trailer.  That could turn out to be an expensive lesson.

Hitching up

I bought a 3-point quick hitch.  The one I bought is a Speeco product, made for cat 1 tractors and doesn’t need bushings on the pins to make them fit the hitch.  It went on in about 5 minutes, easy-peasy.  It’s kind of awkward to do by yourself, but if you do one draft link at a time it’s not too bad.

One of the downsides with a quick hitch is that older implements won’t always fit without some modifications.  In my case, the implements I have are fairly new and are all quick hitch compatible so I should be good to go.

Also, if you have a posthole auger, it won’t work with the quick hitch since the top link is removed when you hitch up the auger.

After checking everything over, I tried hitching up the implements I have – a King Kutter box blade and a Land Pride RCR1260 bush hog.  The box blade hitched up the first time, zero issues.  The bush hog was another story.  To get it to hitch up, the top hook needed to be angled further away from the tractor, once I figured that out it hitched up just fine.  Connecting the PTO shaft is a little less convenient, but still doable without too much cursing.  One good thing is that the same vertical position of the top hook works for the bush hog and the box blade, so no need to move the top hook when switching implements.  I did remove the slow vehicle reflector, because it made reaching the lock handles harder than it needs to be.

It would be nice to find some pins to use in place of the bolts for the top hook.  That way you could make adjustments to the height of the hook without tools.  I think a 1/2″ pin would work.  I may pick up a couple of pins for trailer hitches and see if they will fit.

So far, I like the quick hitch better than the Pats Easy Change links.  I’ll need more time with it and more hitching/unhitching to make a final determination.