So, what makes these frames unique? Upon first look, they don’t appear to use any unique technology and appear to be simply lugged (or slipped into joints) together. While this is a somewhat popular building technique used by many different builders because it allows for higher quality control and greater consistency; it’s not totally the truth with Parlee. You see, lugging requires that two pre-fabricated pieces: a tube and a joint, slip together and then be joined either by brazing or gluing depending upon the material. Parlee does neither because it does not take full advantage of carbon fiber’s qualities. Instead, Parlee takes their custom designed tubing mitered and set at the correct angle for the joint in question and then hand-wraps layers of “pre-preg” (already saturated – or impregnated – with resin and epoxy) carbon fiber fabric around the joint and then sets the joint using pressure and heat. Since this is not a pre-fabricated lug-type slip joint the tube and pre-preg layers bond to become one piece rather than being glued together with epoxy as in pre-fabricated lugged carbon construction. This eliminates excess epoxy and carbon material and slight movements in the joints due to the “floating”nature of a bonded carbon joint resulting in a stronger, lighter, and stiffer joint and therefore better frame.
Another advantage of this unique building technique is its virtually unlimited ability to be joined at a variety of angles – freeing up builders and designers to build truly custom and made-to-measure frames. Due to the pre-fabricated nature of the carbon fiber frame elements used in other construction techniques a frame builder is limited in the range of angles he can form a tube junction by the lug sets available and the amount at which they are able to be machined to accept different angles. Additionally, if a lug joint is designed to be machined to accept multiple angles it therefore must be overbuilt to allow for the machining, and is then more bulky than is necessary for the joint in question. Conversely; building as Parlee does, by hand-wrapping the tube junctions allows a great deal of versatility in the joint angles and enables builders to use only the amount of material necessary to build a strong and sound joint with the desired stiffness.
Stay tuned to BGPR for more pictures and discussion on what makes their different models unique. For more info and some great photos, see parleecycles.com.