Simon Smythe rides Pinarello's new Dogma F8, the model which will be used by Team Sky at this year's Tour de France
We first set eyes on the Dogma F8 in a tiny gym in the basement of the Albergo al Sole hotel in Asolo, where Pinarello held its secret media camp last month. Our attendance was subject to signing a non-disclosure agreement preventing us from breathing a word of the new machine until the embargo ended yesterday at 10pm (Weds May 28).
Although the first impression was of a sleek-looking bike, it didn’t look like a Pinarello Dogma. The old bike had become as
familiar as Wiggins’s sideburns – indeed Brad’s quirky Britishness juxtaposed against the Dogma 65.1’s grace and beauty was a sight we had grown to love. Where Wiggins’s 2012-era facial hair slightly awkwardly recalled 1960s Carnaby Street and his pale, stick-like limbs were awesome and loathsome at the same time, the Pinarello Dogma under him had a wavy fork and stays that echoed the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean up the canals of Venice, and a top tube that arced over them like the Bridge of Sighs. They made an odd couple but it was a compelling and iconic sight – and now with the advent of the Dogma F8 and Wiggo’s passing of the baton to Chris Froome it has gone into history.
The new Dogma is shaped by Jaguar Land Rover’s CFD software rather than by Italian flair and passione. Any artistic flourish is likely to result in a big red blob on the monitor possibly accompanied by a loud siren. As one of Wiggins’s favourite mod bands said, this is the modern world.
However, once we were outside in the fresh April sunshine, ready to pedal the new Dogma into the foothills of the Dolomites, you could feel a definite warming towards the bike. Fausto Pinarello was there on his own fluoro-decaled F8, looking the very epitome of Italian flair, with Team Sky’s Bernhard Eisel smiling despite being obliged to ride with journalists for three hours at sub-recovery pace with the Giro less than a month away.
Then, from the very first pedal stroke something remarkable happened: despite its clinical, designed-by-robots to be ridden by robots appearance, we discovered that this is a bike full of humanity.
As we descended south off the ridge that Asolo perches on it became clear – before even any serious pedalling – that this bike has a nature that belies its sharp shape. Though the road through the forest below Asolo was damp and slippery, the Dogma didn’t feel as though it would break away without warning. Nobody wanted to fall off and scuff up a pre-production Dogma F8 with Di2, but on the other hand it felt possible to descend quickly. Pinarello’s decision to use the latest Dura-Ace 9000 calipers rather than hidden mini V-brakes was also now vindicated in our minds.
The incredible power and modulation of the Shimano brakes perfectly complements the message of the frame.
We started climbing back up the ridge and it was time for the F8 to demonstrate its capability as a climber’s bike. Pinarello claims the new Dogma is 16 per cent more symmetrical in its resistance to pedalling forces than before, and it’s true that on steeper climbs where bottom gear produces significant torque, it feels not only super-stiff but super-smooth – exactly the sensation that its beefed-up asymmetry is supposed to elicit.
Pinarello has opted for standard external BB bearing cups rather than BB30 or equivalent, and as well as it being refreshing to see a company going for reliability and serviceability rather than following the herd, it’s great to know that the creaking under load that bedevils the oversize inboard systems will never trouble the F8 rider. The shell is Italian threaded and we did question that later with the Italian design team, who of course shrugged and said the cups don’t come unscrewed these days and besides, 70mm gives you a little bit of extra width over a 68mm English shell.
Pedalling the Dogma F8 on the flat is a wonderful experience: it’s rare that you feel as though you could wind a bike up in any gear no matter how big. Of course it’s an illusion, but only the very best bikes give that impression.
Perhaps most surprising of all is that the Dogma F8 feels friendly. It has a balance and poise that makes it suitable for any (rich) cyclist at any level. The steering is not light, twitchy and aggressive – in fact the front end feels reassuringly solid – and the geometry is not extreme.
Admittedly Pinarello had left a longish steerer for inflexible cycling journalists, but even so the Dogma didn’t feel like a bike suitable only for racing by top pros. After three hours of riding very hilly terrain – with nearly 6,000ft of climbing including going halfway up Montegrappa – we felt spookily fresh. Not as fresh as Bernie Eisel looked, of course, but it’s fluffier to ride than you think it’s going to be.
So the F8 might look more menacing than the curvy 65.1, but Pinarello has achieved its aim of keeping up that feel of superlative handling and unmatched quality. It’s without any doubt a bike fit for Tour de France winners.
The Dogma F8 is available in black and red, with more colourways in the autumn. It comes in the same 13 sizes as the Dogma 65.1 (42-52cm). More details from Pinarello’s UK distributor Yellow Limited (www.yellow-limited.com).