Without doubt the Pinarello F12 is a fast racing bike and if you have the money and want to reap the benefit, do go out and buy one. However, it is rather expensive to say the least and a fairly harsh ride, which stops the Pinarello F12 being a 10 out of 10 bike.
The Pinarello Dogma F12 was selected for an Editor's Choice award (opens in new tab) in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
The Pinarello (opens in new tab) Dogma F12 has won the Tour de France multiple times (opens in new tab), back-to-back. This most recent iteration was redesigned in 2019, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
As you can see, the new Pinarello F12 looks very similar to the previous F10, so what has changed? Well the headline figures suggest it is stiffer and faster than the F10 and I would agree with that.
The new Pinarello F12 and F12 disc have been two years in the making, according to Pinarello, and have been drawn from broad technical know-how, using complex studies involving Pinarello’s leading structural and aerodynamic knowledge – but no mention of passion yet: not very Italian!
Like the previous versions of the Dogma F family first seen back in 2014 with the F8, Pinarello says one thing had to be maintained from the previous version and that is its ‘all-round’ characteristics, ultimately offering a fast bike rather than an aero bike.
Aerodynamics of the new Pinarello F12 have been improved overall by eight watts at 40kph compared to the F10.
At the top end, that has been made possible with a new Most Talon Ultra integrated handlebar and stem that now hides all the cables, which are routed internally straight into the frame – Pinarello claims a five per cent drag reduction here. The model on test here actually comes with a two-piece system, made up of the Most 1k Carbon Ticr stem and Most Alloy Ticr bars - you'll lose a few watts there but it also slashes the price.
A smart split spacer design will allow for easier servicing and finer tuning of fit, which of course helps hide cables from the wind via a similar design found on the Giant Propel.
The Pinarello Dogma F12 Onda fork and Torayca T1100 carbon fibre frame has also been reworked to save a further 7.3 per cent compared to the F10.
Overall stiffness has been improved by 10 per cent thanks to a rework of the chainstay and forks. However, if this is anything like the difference between the F8 to F10, then we are in for a harsher ride.
You also now get direct-mount brakes for the rim version and a reworked fork for the disc version. This is music to my ears as braking with both the direct mount set up for rim and hydraulic disc brakes is far superior to just the single pivot rim brake design.
That means tyre clearance is upped to 28c, although you could just about squeeze 28s into the F10, and I reckon you could push it a little more on the F12 too.
Undoubtedly the Pinarello F12 is a racing machine. Having ridden the F8, subsequent F10 and now the latest and great model, there has been a small shift towards pure performance at each step. Stiffness is something mentioned a lot when it comes to performance bikes and that is what the Pinarello F12 has in the bucket loads.
It feels on the edge, nimble, hardcore if you will, and something I would have loved to race with a few years back. It leaves you with no doubt that it will help you go that bit quicker. I can see why Team Ineos use this bike and have stayed with Pinarello over the last few years. It works, its fast and can be used on all but the time trial stages.
Out on the road it is capable, and with a relatively shallow wheel the Pinarello F12 is useable both at the weekend and midweek. It feels robust and I wouldn't worry about it being delicate. The forks are something to consider, they feel like they have such a wide stance that jumping out of the saddle offers an odd sensation compared to more traditional shaped forks. A few rides in and it's not as noticeable.
That does come at a price though, and that is comfort. I dare say that there isn't any comfort, despite wider tyres.
OK, maybe it is fair to say that the Pinarello F12 in unforgiving rather than offering a complete lack of comfort, as much can be changed with tyres, fit, components etc. However, to put it into context, Cycling Weekly's lunch time loop in Hampshire has a few rough roads shall we say, and never have I pinch punctured on that ride over past two or three years. 10 minutes into the first ride, BANG, first flat.
Of course this could be down to rather bad luck but it isn't something I have experienced on a pair of Pirelli P-Zero's only pumped up to about 80/90 psi. From there on in I made damn sure to missed anything that resembled a bad surface.
It is so quick though, and despite my lack of racing prowess over the years I happily kept up with tech counterpart James Bracey on our lunch time rides, where previously I had been dropped. I even scored some top Strava times! I even did some turns!
The position the F12 puts you in is aggressive, as you'd expect from a machine with this pedigree. It's important to remember that Pinarello size their bikes differently to most (American) brands. The size 50 is around a 'normal' 52, and comes with a 525.4mm and reach of 372.1mm. The head angle isn't crazy steep, at 71.4º , and this creates very certain handling.
We've got to talk about price. The Pinarello F12 rim brake frameset alone comes in at £5,000, and it can be built up to £12,000. The F12 has a reputation for being... well... a little overpriced.
You can bring the price down, of course - and we've specced this model with an aluminium two-piece bar and stem plus Campagnolo's mid-range Chorus 12 speed groupset to get it down to a slightly more palatable £7,400. It's handing on Shamal Mille wheels (we'd recommend going shallower if you intend to use this for training as well as racing) and Vittoria Corse tyres.
If we follow Dr. Hutch’s ‘Hutchinson’s second law’ it suggests roughly that a 10w saving costs around £1,000 and, looking at the headline figures coming out about the F12, that is roughly how much more the frameset costs compared to the F10.
If you do want one of the fastest racing bikes in the world, you really do have to pay for it. Thankfully though, some of that technology is creeping down the Pinarello range at a more affordable price and Pinarello are even branching into other sectors like gravel.
So if the Pinarello F12 is out of reach for you, as it is me, then maybe something like the Prince or Gan would work for you, certainly will leave your wallet with some cash to spare!
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