Featured Bike: JOM’s Parlee Chebacco – As used at 2016 Dirty Kanza 200

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Earlier this year, we video previewed the Parlee Chebacco, a do-it-all bike hailing from Beverly, Massachusetts. This article isn’t a review of the bike – that is coming soon in video format – rather, this is an article about the bike and configuration – mud and all – that JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew ran at the recent 2016 Dirty Kanza 200 – arguably one of the world’s toughest gravel events.

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The Chebacco’s frame is a compact design with a top tube slope of nine degrees, and tubing constructed from Parlee’s High Modulus XD blend of carbon fibre.

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Likewise, the fork is constructed from the same material as the frame, and features a tapered steerer tube, integrated crown race and 15mm thru axle.

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With Panaracer’s 700c x 40mm Gravel King tyres fitted (which measure about 42.5mm when mounted to American Classic’s Argent disc brake wheelset), clearances are tight. Like so many other riders at the 2016 Dirty Kanza 200, the bike completely packed up with mud rendering it unrideable at about five miles in – to avoid breaking a derailleur, JOM had to dismount, walk through the mud, clear the bike and get going again. Better to be patient than ruin one’s day five miles into a 206 mile gravel race!

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Beneath the sludge is the Panaracer Gravel King, filled with Orange Seal’s Endurance formula sealant.

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For Dirty Kanza 200, JOM’s Chebacco was fitted with American Classic’s Argent Disc Brake wheelset. These wheels are under review, but they are markedly lighter than the Mavic Pro Allroad wheelset that the Chebacco typically comes equipped with. They were all-day rock solid.

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The Argent wheels feature 24 bladed spokes front and rear in a two cross pattern, and utilize the Shimano centre lock standard for mounting disc brake rotors – the wheels are supplied with adapters for 6-bolt rotor use.

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The cockpit of JOM’s bike is a very busy affair. He began the race with two GoPro camera remotes for the on-board cameras, but substituted the front camera remote for a Cateye Volt 700 light when he passed through Checkpoint #3 in Madison, Kansas.

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The beefy carbon fibre Parlee stem is rock solid, atop which JOM’s Garmin 800 usually resides.

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An external battery with velcro added to help it remain fixed to the stem, ensured JOM’s Garmin 800 remains alive and well for his arduous 15 1/2 journey at Dirty Kanza.

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Shimano’s Di2 Junction A box resides beneath the Parlee stem, with a USB cable lashed around the stem and external battery to add a further measure of security for the extra battery powering the Garmin 800. A total of eight batteries are on JOM’s bike!

  • Shimano Di2 internal battery for shifting (1).
  • 2 x GoPro Remotes (2).
  • 2 x GoPro Cameras (2).
  • 1 x Garmin 800 + external battery (2)
  • 1 x Cateye Volt 700 (1).

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Shimano’s Di2 ST-R785 shift / hydraulic brake levers perform the braking and shifting duties on the Parlee Chebacco. The front facing GoPro camera features a Brunton “All Day Battery”, slung off the handlebars with a modified knock-off K-Edge clamp tailored to fit Parlee’s 35mm carbon fibre handlebars. K-Edge’s clamp is unvailable in a 35mm size.

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Parlee’s handlebars combined with Arundel’s handlebar tape provide a very comfortable ride.

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Racing / riding big miles requires additional storage space, and the Revelate Designs “Gas Tank” bag helps in this area. We’ll be providing a review of this bag soon.

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The Parlee branded 31.8mm carbon fibre seatpost keeps JOM’s saddle and Go-Pro camera with K-Edge mount securely in place. Because JOM uses a rear’facing GoPro camera with a regular or extended battery, a saddle bag cannot be used. Shimano’s Di2 battery resides inside the seatpost.

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The Revelate Designs “Jerry Can” bag solves JOM’s dilemma, and securely holds all of his spares such as tubes, Co2’s, multi-tool, etc. This is another product we’ll be posting a review of shortly.

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This area of the bike got hammered with mud. JOM’s fingers act as windscreen wipers for the GoPro’s camera case.

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The Fizik Arione is the only saddle JOM will use. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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In stock form, Shimano’s Ultegra compact crankset leaves the factory fitted with 50 / 34 chainrings. JOM turns a higher cadence and prefers 46 / 34 chainrings for gravel riding and racing. Unfortunately, the Shimano 46 tooth ring isn’t nicely sculpted to perfectly match the crank arms, but it gets the job done. Shimano’s universal BCD is superb – one crank for 53 / 39, 52 / 36 and 50 / 34 chainrings. Shifting duties are handled by Shimano’s well-proven Ultegra Di2 wired electronic gear shifting system. It is pretty much all JOM will use in gravel races now, such is the system’s reliability, particularly in adverse conditions.

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Continuing the theme of smaller gears, JOM prefers a mid-cage Ultegra Di2 derailleur which easily handles an 11-32 cassette. Parlee do a superb job of routing all cables internally. The chainstay and part of the downtube are fitted with an Effetto Mariposa Shelter kit – an Italian made frame protection system – think thick and clear stick-on. We are currently reviewing this product for BikeRumor.com

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This is how your 11-32 cassette looks after a long day at the Dirty Kanza 200. 142mm x 12mm thru axle keeps the rear wheel securely installed in the bike.

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JOM relies on Xpedo’s excellent M-Force 8 full titanium pedals for gravel racing. Check out his review HERE.

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Shimano’s excellent Icetech rotors come in 140mm on the Parlee Chebacco. We’d prefer 160mm rotors, but thus far, they have performed exceptionally well. JOM hammered the brakes and Parlee in adverse weather conditions during the 2016 Bootlegger 100 in Lenoir, North Carolina. However, we are keen to know if swapping the R685 calipers for some XTR units corrects the vague “hyperspace” feeling between brake lever actuation and when the pads make contact with the rotors. Users of the Di2 hydraulic brake / shift levers know exactly what I’m talking about… watch this space…

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The DT Swiss thru axles are easy to use and adjust. One of the best on the market. Parlee currently eschews the flat mount standard on the Chebacco, but this bike does not suffer from the harmonic vibration issue that JOM has heard / felt on some disc brake bikes over the years.

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The Parlee Chebacco is a clean bike – barring the mud, cables are routed internally for a very clean look.

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The front brake cable is routed internally through the fork.

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Parlee’s carbon fibre bottle cages actually work – no ejected bottles!

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Panaracer’s Gravel King in 40mm is a big 40… but the ride is sublime and it rolls fast. Yet another product we will be posting a review for soon… if it matters, JOM had no punctures at the 2016 Dirty Kanza 200.

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Beneath the mud at the centre of the American Classic Argent wheelset is the company’s venerable disc brake hubset. These hubs can be easily converted from thru axle to regular quick release, with multiple cassette body options.

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Even if you were to break one of these stout American Classic spokes, they are the regular J-bend type. In a jam, a regular round replacement spoke can be sourced from your local bike shop.

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Despite being covered in mud from the 2016 Dirty Kanza 200, the Parlee Chebacco is a tidy looking bike.

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Beneath the crud lay a Parlee branded BB30 compatible bottom bracket.

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A week after the race, and we still haven’t washed the bike… wondering if this Kansas mud will be easy to remove?

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How the Parlee Chebacco looks when it isn’t encrusted in Kansas mud.

  • Frame: Parlee Chebacco, size Medium (54.5cm top tube) finished in Alaskan Railway Blue with 142mm x 12mm thru axle.
  • Fork: Parlee Cycles, tapered 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ with 15mm thru axle.
  • Headset: Parlee 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″.
  • Stem: Parlee carbon with titanium bolts, 110mm, 35mm handlebar clamp.
  • Handlebar: Parlee carbon, 40cm centre to centre (JOM likes narrow bars).
  • Handlebar Tape: Arundel Synth. Gecko tape in black.
  • Front brake: Shimano RS685 hydraulic.
  • Rear brake: Shimano RS685 hydraulic.
  • Shift / Brake Shift levers: Shimano R785 Di2.
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2 11-speed.
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2 11-speed, mid-cage.
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultega 11-32 11-speed.
  • Chain: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed.
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra, 172.5mm with 46 / 34 chainrings.
  • Bottom bracket: Parlee PF30.
  • Pedals: Xpedo MForce-8 titanium.
  • Wheelset: American Classic Argent Disc Brake with American Classic valve cores (the bike ships with Mavic’s Pro Allroad disc brake wheelset).
  • Front tyre: Panaracer Gravel King 700c x 40mm, 40psi, filled with Orange Seal Endurance formula.
  • Rear tyre: Panaracer Gravel King 700c x 40mm, 40psi, filled with Orange Seal Endurance formula.
  • Saddle: Fizik Arione.
  • Seatpost: Parlee carbon, 31.6mm.
  • Bottle cages: Parlee carbon.
  • Computer: Not fitted at time of photo, Garmin 800.

Parlee Cycles

24 comments on “Featured Bike: JOM’s Parlee Chebacco – As used at 2016 Dirty Kanza 200

  1. Well done. Love that you kept the mud on for the photo shoot.
    They guys from Parlee must be horrified but that’s just how we roll!

      1. It actually comes off the bike pretty easily – clean that bike! You’ll always have the pebble from K-Dogg’s bib shorts to serve as a memento!

          1. The pebble just fell out in the dorms. I’m pretty sure it came
            from stupidly drafting a Fatty bike. Those things need to be regulated as
            automatic weapons especially on muddy roads.

  2. I can’t wait for the review, very interested in this bike! Any hints as to the frame and fork weight?

    1. The Ramblers are considerably lighter and feel much livelier which is an attribute I quite enjoy. However, I was concerned about their resistance to the rough flint gravel in Kansas and rode the heavier and beefier Panaracer Gravel King in 40mm. It was the perfect choice in those conditions.

      1. That’s a tight fit with the tires! Any issues with them rubbing on the frame? You mentioned a kit to protect the chainstay, did you apply it to the fork as well? Do you think you’ll stay with 40mm tires next time, or would you try 38mms?

        1. Pete, I had a massive problem with mud packing when the proverbial mud hit the fan at around mile four of this year’s Dirty Kanza 200… but so did much of the field. Apparently the day of about 150 riders ended in the mud, due to broken derailleur hangers / clogged derailleurs. Not pretty.

          If I do appear at Kanza again, I would likely run the 35mm Panaracer Gravel King tires which measure about 38mm on most rims.

  3. How did the notorious BB30 hold/holding up? Creaking? What BB did you use? The does bike ride supple or on the stiffer side? Thanks!

    1. Hey there… this is a Parlee branded PF30 unit… I was pleasantly surprised to see the bottom bracket spin freely for multiple rotations when I had the chain removed from the bike… which was in dire need of replacement. No issues with lack of stiffness for me.

  4. Just put money down on one of these beauties, in part due to your review, mainly due to an exhilarating ride through the mountains of Vermont. Many thanks! (Though my wallet is frowning…)

    Re:sizing, after doing an extensive fit session at my lbs, they said that either the M or the ML would work for me, with the M needing 2.5cm of stem spacers. I’m 5’10” with a 32″ inseam, and would generally choose the smaller frame given a choice. Would there be any good reasons to go with the larger frame that I might want to consider?

    Thanks in advance for your response…

    1. John, I am no fitting expert – but I always choose a smaller frame where possible. It is easier to make a smaller frame bigger with adjustments in stem length, stem spacers and seatpost height. Not so with a larger frame.

      I’m 5’11”, 32″ and the Medium frame fits me perfectly… with that said, I prefer a more aggressive position than is suited to most people.

      Good luck!

  5. I just rode mine for the first time. Loved the ride but disappointed with the headset. The shop had problems setting it up, either to loose or too tight, finally thought everything was ok and took her home. First ride after a tricky rocky decent at low speed I look down and see the headset cap to one side a big gouge out of the paint and a loose headset. Back to the shop on Monday, hope this can be resolved but not real happy at the moment.

    1. T.J. did the paint gouge beneath the Parlee spacer? The fit on that spacer is pretty tight – during my first ever video review of the Parlee (it wasn’t my best work – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf4139V4u9o), I am pretty sure I mentioned something about the headset. For the period of the review, the headset held together fine for me, but after 10 months, it definitely needed new bearings. This was to be expected considering what I put that bike through. However, you shouldn’t be having these many problems.

      I suggest you call Parlee themselves… good luck!

  6. JOM, noticed that although you had a 25 setback post, you had the seat slammed all the way forward. Is that just coincidence, or is there a reason it was set up that way (instead of a straight post)? Many thanks!

    1. The saddle wasn’t really slammed all of the way forward… however, I kind of fell between the setback being a tad too big, but a straight post wouldn’t have worked for me. 15mm of setback would have appeared to be more symmetrical 🙂

  7. Jayson, I know you’re half way around the world, so this can keep, however at some point I would like you to comment: We are almost the exact same size and have/had the same Medium Chewy. I want to know if you had any issues with toe overlap. I’m also running the GK 43 and they are huge, plus also running a 172.5 crank so I’m getting the occasional toe strike. Don’t know your shoe size but I’m a 44.5.
    Any advise is most welcome, and safe travels.

    1. When I’m running fenders I definitely get overlap. Without, not really. 42.5 here as well. More aggressive tread will also factor in.
      All in all it doesn’t bother me as I just take it in to account when turning.

      1. Jayson and John, thanks. I’ve never experienced it before this frameset so I was almost on the tarmac er gravel when this occurred. Now that I know I’m at least wary when I get in a very steep section that I have to traverse to get up. I don’t think going to a 170 crank will eliminate it either, but it was a thought.

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