Cyclist Mag Review – Test ridden by Peter Stuart
Pinarello’s latest flagship bike, the Dogma 65.1, enjoyed incredible success. Its palmares includes 2 Tour de France yellow jerseys, a World Championship gold medaland, best of all, a gushing review from Cyclist back in issue 19. So when the company presented this complete redesign of the Dogma, we have to confess we were a little baffled as to how Pinarello could possibly top its established superbike.
The Dogma F8 9the name take the “F” from company president Fausto Pinarello and is the 8th iteration of the Dogma) is every inch the Pro Tour Bike. To start with, it’s lighter than its predecessor, with 120g having been shaved off to make this frame a svelte (claimed) 860g for a size 54cm. This means it will have no problem meeting the 6.8kg UCI minimum weight for overall race bike builds. But that weight saving appears to have an unexpected bonus, as the key driver for the project was to increase speed.
Fausto Pinarello explains the challenges of the design: “We wanted to create a new bike, not just a new aero bike. To make an aero bike is easy, but it must not compromise the (ride) qualities of the frame. The rideability was most important for us – the aerodynamics is about the fourth point on the list.”
The improved aerodynamics has been as a result of a partnership with Jaguar, made possible by the two brands’ involvement with Team Sky. The design drew heavily on Jaguar’s CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) capabilities, and specifically a system called “Exa PowerFLOW Aerodynamic Simulation”. The details of that aerodynamic are extensive, but its cumulative effect is a claimed 47% improvement in aerodynamics – if you add up the effects of each part of the bike separately. That’s a little tenuous, however, and in reality the overall package including rider is nearer 6.4% more aerodynamic than the 65.1, which still makes a noticeable increase in speed.
As well as reduced weight and lower drag, the stiffness of the F8 has also been increased when compared to the already impressively stiff 65.1. This is thanks to Pinarello’s long standing partnership with carbon fibre giant Toray. Pinarello claims exclusive use of a new grade of carbon (in the bike industry) – Torayca T1100 1K Dream Carbon – for the F8, which basically means its stronger, stiffer and lighter than its predecessor the 65.1.
These stats are certainly impressive, and the F8 is undeniably beautiful, but looks can be deceiving, and aerodynamics can be confusing, so its time to see how Pinarello’s new flagship model performs out on the road.
Too Fast Too Fausto
The Dogma F8 is a fast bike. A very fast bike. Of course, speed comes in many forms, but it turns out that the F8 is quick in many different ways.
The F8 came into my life at an interesting moment because I had just spent a significant amount of time on a time-trial bike. As such, normal road bikes had begun to seem awfully slow by comparison. The F8, however, only seemed to further fuel my new found appetite for speed. On long solo rides, I was able to push above 40kmh and stay there for extended periods – not dissimilar to my pace on the TT set up. It’s hard to say with any degree of certainty that its the honed aerodynamics that are responsible, but I felt the F8 held speed in a way that the 65.1 wasn’t capable of. Coupled with a feeling of intimate connection with the road, the F8 enabled me to maintain and effortless rhythm when up to speed, and I could sit and pedal at a higher intensity than I thought possible, but without ever feeling as if I was over exerting myself.
Another aspect of speed is climbing and accelerating, and the F8 proved to be mighty quick up the hills too, partly aided by the impressively light and stiff new Mavic R-Sys SLR wheelset, it wasn’t just a matter of sensation either. On an ascent of Box Hill (south London’s answer to Alpe d’Huez) I beat my personal best by 15 seconds on the F8, and I’m pretty confident on a warmer day I could have even trimmed a further 10 seconds off that.
The final facet of the F8’s speed comes from the handling. Pinarello was eager that the bike be exactly the same in terms of handling as the 65.1, something apparently demanded by Team Sky riders. I cant be sure its exactly the same, but certainly the F8 handles very decisively. Thanks to its aggressive geometry and stiff construction, I don’t feel I ever got close to the F8’s limits through corners and it carved any line I chose with impressive accuracy. It descends with impressive accuracy. It descends without fault, and I would have relished the chance to race the F8 in a crit, although I was hesitant to do so aboard a £9500 bike that wasn’t mine, and besides, the racing season was all but over by the time this test came around.
However the F8’s main strength is possibly also its main weakness – it left me feeling inadequate. The bike was so stiff, so responsive and so ruthless that it felt cruel to cage it between my feeble legs. Its as worthy a companion as I could imagine for a pro rider, but with its focus on speed and performance, the F8 may have lost a little of the magic the 65.1, which had an impressive ability to deliver accurate feedback and resonance from the road. The F8 delivers plenty of feedback but it makes few concessions to the riders comfort. Where the 65.1 was comparable to the BMC TeamMachine or the Scott Addict in terms of comfort the F8 sits closer to the likes of the Cervelo S5 or Specialized Venge – bikes designed for speed above all else. That said, the F8 negotiates severe disturbances in the road more capably than I have come to expect from many aero road bikes, but the point remains that if riding leisurely sportives is your thing, the F8 is probably not your ideal partner.
If you prioritise comfort, the 65.1 may still be your best option, but the F8 remains a truly exceptional bike. It begs to be ridden fast, it feels every inch what a pro bike should be like, and I’ll admit that I lapsed all to often into Grand Tour fantasies while riding it. And there is much to be said for a bike that makes you feel like a pro.
Bike Spec for Review
Pinarello Dogma F8
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
Mavic R-Sys SLR Wheelset
Carbon Most Finishing kit.