by Jamie Mack
Joachim Parbo has been racing with the elites since 1998, after moving on from basketball. While the initial seasons were on a mountain bike, Parbo has been focused on ‘cross the last ten years. Hindsight is 20-20, but the decision certainly seems to be a smart one now as he has seen continued success on ‘cross courses around the world including at home – he’s won four Danish Championship titles in the past five seasons.
Parbo is a bit unique among European ‘cross racers due to the amount of time he has raced in the US. While most Europeans tend to race close to home, Parbo traveled extensively last season, competing in 17 US races, including the USGP series. This has been the trend with Parbo for the last four seasons as he continues to be a popular contender at marquee events across the US.
Parbo also stands out because of his stringent and outspoken stance on doping in cycling. Parbo sees the use of EPO and other performance enhancing products as not just against the rules, but against the very nature of the sport. Parbo believes that doping in cycling goes beyond hurting the health and attitude of athletes, but goes deeper to affect the social nature of ‘cross, which is one of the core reasons we are all here.
Racing on road and mountain bikes with CK-Aargus, Denmark’s largest cycling club of which Parbo serves as a board member, he switches jersey for ‘cross season to race for KCH Leopard Cycles. Leopard Cycles is a faithful sponsor of Parbo’s, again providing his ‘cross frames for this past season. Leopard Cycles is a US based company, eschewing traditional materials to provide high-end carbon bike and components at price points that other manufacturers have trouble hitting. Leopard accomplishes this, in part, by being a mail order direct which allows for lower prices be removing the overhead costs associated with dealers and distribution networks.
Parbo races on an all-carbon CX-1 from Leopard which is built based on techniques Leopard has borrowed from aerospace and other high-tech industries. The frame features unique construction features, including shaped tubes and ribbed tubing. The design is meant to make the frame as stiff as possible, without the harshness that often comes with it. Leopard Cycles also provides a matching fork for Parbo’s CX-1.
Parbo runs a full SRAM group on his Leopard CX-1, though he chooses the Force group over the higher end Red group. There is a slight weight penalty in going with the Force group, but the quality and function of the parts is virtually the same, so it’s unlikely he feels this choice is hampering his riding. Parbo also shows a focus on lightweight components, but balances that with quality, proven choices for a unique spec.
Parbo’s handlebar and stem are provided by another loyal sponsor, selcof. The bars turn on a headset and carbon fiber spacers provided by Woodman components. Woodman components is not often so prominently displayed on pro races bikes as it is on Parbo’s machine. Along with the headset, Woodman provides the wheel skewers, zero offset seatpost and, given the carryover of the gold anodizing, likely even contributes the brake adjusting bolt at the rear of the frame. What’s the significance of using Woodman Components? As any weight-weenie worth their, well, weight, is aware of, Woodman is primarily known for quality components that place an emphasis on lightweight.
The lightweight, but well thought out theme carries over to the wheels as well with the use of Zipp 303 carbon tubulars. The 303’s are not the lightest in the Zipp catalog, but as with the use of SRAM Force, Parbo has chosen components that suit the use. The 303’s have a wider gluing surface, which may explain why so few have seen Parbo roll a tire in the last few seasons. The 303’s are wrapped in a variety of offerings from Challenge – Parbo had a hand in designing the Fango – with Grifos being his preferred tread on the day Cyclocross Magazine was able to inspect the bike.
Brakes to stop the Zipps come in the form of TRP’s EuroX Mags another lightweight but proven choice. Parbo runs the TRP’s equipped with carbon-specific pads for consistent braking. Parbo’s final connection to the bike, the pedals, are another not often seen model. The Exustar pedals are an uncommon sight, but given that the bulk of their construction is done in titanium they fit in well with Parbo’s focus on quality, lightweight components.