Readers’ Rigs: Custom Rigs!

A Reader’s Rig could be a $500 cheapo, a vintage classic, a $15,000 superbike or just a highly personalized bike designed just for their owner. It’s this last category which is catered for today with a custom Parlee that has a simply awesome paintjob and a Cannondale with some serious owner modifications that make it really stand out from the crowd. It’s Readers’ Rigs time!

Reader No.1: Jer Walker, Farmington Hills, MI USA
Age: 37
Bike: Parlee Z1 Custom with Di2
Wheels: Shimano C35 Tubular
Pedals: Shimano Dura Ace Carbon
Saddle: Fizik Arione CX Carbon
Weight: 15.8lbs (7.17kgs)

When did you buy it? I took delivery of my Parlee on May 19, 2011; the same day as my 10th wedding anniversary. What an awesome day!

What made you choose this bike? Tom Rodi, VP Sales & Marketing at Parlee was the key catalyst. I was impressed with Tom’s quick response to my inquiry and the amount of time and attention he gave me as a potential customer. No other company I was researching responded the way he did. After laying out all of my needs in a bicycle and quirks as a rider, Tom just kept saying yes to everything. Parlee’s capabilities to build exactly what I wanted were superior to anyone else.

What modifications/additions have you done? I went with custom geometry to suit a better fit and ride quality. They were able to tweak the rake, bottom bracket height, and chainstay length to match my descending style. I was one of the first customers to get internal wiring for Di2. This required a BB30 shell to accommodate the wiring. I used a SRAM Press Fit 30 bottom bracket with Wheels Manufacturing adaptors in order to fit the Dura Ace crank. In addition, they were able to give me a one off custom paint job that really brought this bike to life.

Ed’s note, I think Jer is the master of understatement there giving his impressive custom paintjob just a one sentence write up so I had to ask him for some more info on the reasoning behind the paintjob:

The Black Ace pays homage to my close friend and mentor (Jon “The Black Ace” Card) who helped me achieve a lot of success in cycling.

Rollins Sun: The head tube was inspired by one of my music heroes: Henry Rollins. This is all painted and Parlee did a knockout job, especially dripping the icicles over. It was their idea to paint the eyes red.

Toptube: Evolution of my ideas coupled with my wife’s design capabilities. I gave her photos of some of the favorite climbs I’d ridden and she merged them together. Then she took the collage and made it into a sketch design. We submitted that to Parlee and after a lengthy discussion, decided it would be too tedious (not to mention expensive) to pull off in paint. So we decided to turn the collage into a silhouette and incorporate the blue sky another friend suggested.

What components are you running? I wanted to have a 100% Shimano bike, so I went with a full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 7970 group and use a PRO EVO Stealth bar/stem and seatpost. I also use Shimano’s C35 tubular wheels and Dura Ace Carbon pedals. The only non-Shimano parts are the FMB Silk tires, Chris King headset, SRAM Press Fit bottom bracket, Arundel Mandible cages, and Fizik Arione CX Carbon saddle.

How many miles do you do per year? Living in Michigan has made me a fair weather rider, so I only get between 3000 and 4000 miles annually.

Favorite riding area? I absolutely love riding in the Asheville, NC area. The roads are awesome and the scenery is stunning. Better eat your Wheaties though with all the climbing.

Favorite riding experience? Hard to forget the first ride on my Parlee. I drove up to Northern Michigan to ride part of the Michigan Mountain Mayhem course. Not knowing what I was about to experience, I ended up feeling like a kid in a candy store. Very exhilarating after all these years to feel that first time feeling. Honorable mention goes to climbing the Devil’s Whip on my way to Mount Mitchell.

Jer and his Mt. Mitchell Parlee on Mt. Mitchell pointing to the climb on the top tube.

Future upgrades? Calfee is doing some incredible things with Di2. I will probably go to them to move the battery from the chainstay to inside the seatpost. I am also considering their BarStem which would allow a Super Clean internal mounting of the Di2 brain and all the wiring, thus making it a 100% internal installation from front to back including battery. That would certainly be aesthetically pleasing.

Reader No.2: Brian Fleming Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Age: Age is a state of mind
Bike: Cannondale Synapse 56cm with Di2
Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium Sl
Pedals: Egg Beaters
Saddle: Fizik Alliante ordered from factory with custom colors
Weight: Without the extras, 15.74 lbs (7.14kgs)

When did you buy it? Not sure, about five, maybe six years ago. I kept breaking spokes on my old Miata steel touring bike with 27 inch wheels and I was having a very hard time finding spokes for that obsolete wheel size, so I started thinking that I might have to buy a new bike because I couldn’t find a spoke. (Ed – this is probably the most original excuse for buying a bike I’ve ever heard!) I looked at the new technology bikes and started thinking of upgrading to a composite construction from steel.

Why did you choose this bike? I like riding long distances, although recently on my steel bike I only commuted to work, this bike was engineered to be smooth, and I still feel that the Cannondale SAVE method of achieving vertical compliance is the best of all the designs out there today, also, it had the Dura-Ace 7800 series shift/brakes and good wheels.

Yep, Brian likes to ride long distances alright. This pic was taken on a short rest stop during a 180 mile (290km) ride. Look closely at the forks and seat stays and you’ll see Snickers bars strapped on for energy!

What modifications have you done? Modified the carbon fiber frame by myself to route the Di2 external wiring harness internally. Three surgeries required, bottom of the seat tube to run the wire up to the Calfee seat post battery, bottom of the down tube near the bottom bracket to run the wires up the down tube, around the steering tube, and exiting in front of the head tube. Top tube modified to run the rear brake cable internally. Repair work done to the down tube where the factory rivnuts for the water bottle had pulled out of the frame, and top tube modified to mount the frame pump directly to the top tube without zap straps etc. All the above surgeries were done with carbon fiber/epoxy resin.

What components are you running? Di2 with the external wiring harness running internally with the Calfee battery post lithium ion battery, Campagnolo Record Skeleton front and rear brakes, FSA K-Force Lite seatpost, FSA K-Force Lite crank with ceramic bearings (Megaexo), FSA Plasma bar/stem, Fizik Alliante saddle, FSA skewers, Mavic Ksyrium Sl wheels, Vredestien tricomp fortezza clinchers, KCNC ceramic jockey wheels, Sprintech bar end mirrors, Deda clip black areo bars with push button switches to operate the rear derailleur (switches sourced and installed by myself), Profile Design folding arm pads, Garmin Edge 800 computer, Nokon brake cables, Arundel Chronos (2) water bottles, Topeak Turbo Morph frame pump, Mellow Johnny’s stem cap, FSA Pro road chainrings 52 X 34, 110 BCD , yeah I know, but it works great, 12 X 25 rear cassette, swapped the 12 tooth cog for an 11, Campagnolo seat post clamp, Parlee carbon front derailleur clamp, braze-on type.

The two red switches at the end of Brian’s aero bars are for actuating the rear derailleur while in the aero position and the two alloy levers you can see poking through are Brian’s homemade brake levers.

This is the aero brake lever assembly under construction before installation.

How many miles/kilometers do you do per year? From the Garminconnect website, from June 25 this year to November 25, 3541 miles, 5669 Km. I have a Keiser m3 spin bike for off season use.

Favoride riding area? Mount Seymour, just outside of Vancouver, starting at about 300 feet in elevation to about 3200 feet elevation in about 12.5 Km / 7.8 miles, and Mount Baker in neighboring Washington state, USA, a stunningly beautiful ride. If Baker is done in July, just after the road has been cleared of snow, about the last 1000 feet or so of elevation is done quite literally though canyons of snow, with walls up to 20 feet high, until the summit parking lot is reached.

A quick rest for Brian and his custom Cannondale on their first ever trip up Mt. Baker.

Favorite riding experience? This summer I took my bike up to Nelson, British Columbia, in a spectacular mountainous area called the Kootenays to spend some time with my parents. I did three rides 147 miles/235 Km, 8676 feet elevation gain 8733 calories and 141/225 Km miles, 8173 feet elevation gain and 8491 calories and one other shorter ride. The first ride I left Nelson, cycled solo out the West Arm of Kootenay Lake to Balfour, across the lake on the ferry, and down the spectacular Kootenay Lake to Creston, over the 5,800 foot Kootenay Pass to Salmo and back to Nelson. It was a trip I had dreamed of for many years.

I also had a special passenger with me. I saw a video of Fabian Cancellara, and he pulled what seemed to be a good luck charm out of his jersey pocket and showed it to a motorcycle camera man during a race. I thought while I may not be able to ride like Fabian, I can carry a good luck charm like he does, so I found a British Columbia jade circle of life pendant that I carried with me on that ride, and many others.

Brian’s new passenger, his British Columbia jade circle of life pendant enjoying the views at Kootenay Lake.

Future upgrades? This winter I want to get the bike repainted in the factory color scheme because of the repair/modifications I have done to the carbon fiber frame. I will also get the seat post, crank, bars, and aero bars repainted in a similar scheme.

Last words? I keep my bike clean and properly maintained, and I am constantly amazed at the number of non-cyclists who ask me about it at stops etc. By doing that, I think if perhaps it will inspire them to go to the bike store and buy a bike, then that is a good thing.

Most importantly, I try to represent the sport and passion well, and with enthusiasm. I conduct myself with courtesy towards all others I share the road with. I am constantly amazed on long rides how nice people are. I get offers for food, water, Gatorade and any kind of assistance if people think I might need it. It makes me proud to say I am a cyclist.

readers rigs