C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

A few weeks before Interbike, C-Bear and Sprocket Scientist put together a custom build off between Parlee/Signature Cycles and Alchemy/Nie Brothers. Both shops scrambled to get a completely custom road bike built before the show, and you get to vote on which one is best. Today, we present the Parlee Z-Zero with a custom build from Signature Cycles in Connecticut.

This one was built for Ard Kessels, the owner of Sprocket Scientist, the US distributor for C-Bear’s ceramic bearings and bottom brackets. The idea was to showcase their products on a top end bike, so C-Bear provided the bottom bracket to convert the frame’s PFBB30 to a Shimano-friendly 24mm ID. They also replaced the standard DT Swiss bearings with their own ceramic ones. Beyond that, the only prerequisite was that it represent the brand in some way and use the new Dura-Ace 11-speed group.

The result is this beautiful road bike custom made based on a fit performed by Lori Hoefer at Signature Cycles…

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The paint scheme was done in house at Parlee. Ard provided some thoughts on what he wanted to be represented, namely the C-Bear colors. The final concept was a collaboration between Parlee and Signature Cycles and represents the bearings that C-Bear makes. And it’s all paint…with the circle patterns all being masked. Those patterns were printed to create a negative mask, then pulled off before painting. The stripes were all hand masked.

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

Cable runs are kept simple, light and external. The Z-Zero is designed to be the benchmark against what all other road bikes should be, and from what we’ve seen here and in the past, it makes a strong case for being just that.

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The lines scallop and fade as they head toward the back of the bike. To our eyes, the lines and curves of the graphics lend some depth to the primarily round tube construction Parlee uses (check our factory tour to see their process).

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The ghosted ENVE and Parlee logos on the seatpost/seat tube are so subtle, they’re easy to overlook. Other Easter eggs are hidden on the frame and parts, such tech specs on C-Bear’s ceramic bearings painted on the handlebar under the tape. These are the little details Parlee likes to bake into their bikes and will only really be appreciated by the owner.

The frame is built using their usual tube-to-tube construction. Parlee’s manager Tom Rodi says the abrupt transitions from the top of the seat tube/top tube cluster aren’t abnormal. They’re thicker because that’s where the overwrap is that holds that junction together. On fully painted frames, they can taper it in or smooth it, but on this bike there was no need to hide the construction method. Ultimately, they can make it look anyway you want.

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The bearing motif fades back in at the rear on the insides of the chainstays, tying the visuals together from stem to stern.

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

C-Bear’s bear logo makes an appearance on the rims, too, as a reflective decal. The headbadge on the bike is also reflective.

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The bike required around 5o hours to build and paint, and then it was handed off to Signature Cycles for assembly. The build spec is as follows:

brake/shift levers Shimano Dura Ace 9000
front derailleur Shimano Dura Ace 9000
rear derailleur Shimano Dura Ace 9000
brake calipers Shimano Dura Ace 9000
bottom bracket C-Bear PF30 to 24mm bottom bracket with road bearings
crank set Shimano Dura Ace 9000
chain rings Rotor QXL 38/52T
cassette Shimano Dura Ace 9000 11-28
chain Shimano Dura Ace 9000
rims Enve SES 3.4 clincher
hubs DT Swiss 240s
wheel bearings C-Bear ceramic road
spokes DT Aerolite 20F/24R
seat post Enve
saddle Specialized Romin EVO Pro
stem Enve
handlebar Enve Road Bar
bar tape Arundel Gecko
head set Cane Creek Carbon
tires Michelin Pro 4, 25mm

C-Bear Signature Cycles and Parlee Z-Zero custom road bike build competition

The complete bike comes in at 15.26lbs (6.92kg) with a price tag of $15,000. Check back on Wednesday for the Alchemy Helios, then again on Friday for your chance to vote for the winner and be entered to win a C-Bear bottom bracket for your own bike! In the meantime, here’s a little video they made about the project:

Signature Cycles
SprocketScientist (US Distributor for C-Bear)


  1. Even my MTB is lighter and cheaper than this!
    Thought this would be using insane parts after seeing the price..boring to be honest.
    On the bright side, its beautiful.

    PS. My MTB? Scale 899 2011 bought it on sale for half price of this road bike and it weights 6.803kg without pedals…

  2. So nice! I’d love to know the actual geometry of that frame. It looks like a tall stack short reach, but overall the peoportions look friggin great for a tall bike. That is hard to accomplish without making it look like it has tiny wheels or a monster head tube.

  3. Sweet paintjob. Reminds me of American Chopper, only more civilized.

    Does anyone else think it looks cheap when tire manufacturers put their website on the sidewall?

  4. @Jorge, I’m sure your comment must be relevant, but I can’t figure out how it’s relevant. I’m guessing the owner of the bike and the builders really didn’t care how much the bike weighed or cost compared to a mountain bike. After all, the owner was looking for a custom frame for himself.

    It’s a great looking bike: classy and subtle.

  5. If the guy Art does some flexibility work and can add some drop and reach, that thing would look even more sick with a custom 10 degree, 130mm stem slammed. But if he’s in ideal shape msybe not. Either way sweet bike.

  6. looks heavy. alu bikes can be built lighter for cheaper.
    And -10 points for rotor rings over dura-ace, which are available in 52-36 and a slightly less wobbly shape..
    paint is cool, and frame surely rides nicely. but, underwhelming…
    would have hoped for some slightly more exotic / 1-off choices in parts!

  7. All these custom carbon frames are overpriced trophy status symbols. They’re too heavy, arcane in terms of carbon tech. This guy should have bought a Cervelo R5 or Scott Addict or Ridely Helium SL or Felt FRD, hell, maybe a Parlee Z5 SLi!

  8. Eyal, goridebikes, and others are spot on: 15.26 lbs is wicked heavy! Those guys ride so fast and look so pro ‘cuz their bikes are lighter than helium! They’re anti-gravity bikes!

  9. This build may not be as exotic or as weight conscious as what was coming out from Fairwheelbikes at Interbike but what we have here is a solid and reliable build that doesn’t have any weight limitations. Great job Parlee, looks like you have another happy customer.

  10. @Carl Mail me @ JorgeSilvaPRVT[AT]Gmail[DOT]com

    @PsiSquared, This is a custom bike…but how far are you gonna take the price of it? That’s my point…Look at AX lightness Vial EVO. 700gr frame for 3 grand.

  11. @JMS: since when does light weight mean “quality” or “value”? Simply put, it doesn’t. Now, don’t you think the customer knew the price of the bike going in? Your priorities and, frankly, those of anyone else aren’t those of the customer, and in that light, what you think about the bike doesn’t matter. It wasn’t built for you.

  12. holy cow, did any of you watch the vimeo? its like they are saving the world or searching for the cure. so important this stuff is… NOT.

    time for a reassessment folks. its just a freaking bike.

  13. Thanks all for your comments, I am very happy to see a long discussion thread, which proves to me that Parlee and Signature Cycles did a good job in pushing the boundaries of bike building.

    I have to mention that the goal of this build off was to build two bicycles that will actually be used by both their owners. This Z-Zero was made as an endurance bike. A more relaxed geometry that puts me in a position that can be held for 8 hours. Achieving the lowest weight was never a goal, although 15 pounds and change without tubulars and in this size are incredible for a ride this solid. I have had my share of light bikes before, but anything in the same weight bracket has this one has handled like a wet noodle. The Zero feels rock solid, similar to my bikes that are at least a pound heavier.

    As for the request for more customized parts: have a second look. Everything on this bike is customized, from the geometry, to the frame lay up and paint to the wheels, stem, handlebars and seat post. Even the application of the handlebar tape is unlike anything I have ever seen from another shop. Justin at Signature Cycles is a wrapping artist.

    I hope you enjoy looking at these rides as much as we enjoyed putting the project together. Keep an eye out for the Alchemy on Wednesday.


  14. $15,000!!!!! What a joke. Seriously. It’s a bicycle. You’re R & D does not deserve a price tag like that. What a bunch of [deleted].

  15. It’s a beautiful bike and the guy got what he wanted…. it’s not what WE want but what HE wanted. Wouldn’t we all like that level of service from our bike shop (if you have one) or our bike companies?

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.