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Riding a Tour de France Champion, the Pinarello Dogma F8

Pinarello’s using aerospace-grade carbon fiber to make a bike that feels like riding on a cloud.

Henry Phillips

At the top of Mt. Lemmon, riding the Cervélo S5, delirious from 20 straight miles of climbing, I pulled onto the shoulder, stopping with the SAG car. A chipper Aussie rode up on his Pinarello Dogma F8, apparently unfazed by the climb and talking relentlessly of “holidays” and “investments” and his robust “portfolio.” I was cold; the wind whistled on the top of the mountain. He chattered for 10 minutes straight. My teeth chattered inside my head. I straddled a $10,000, not-yet-released aero-road bike. The man’s rear seat-stay was cracked. And still, I envied his bike.

Pinarello portrays itself in a cocksure way. Their slogan at Eurobike boasted, against a bright yellow background, “Still Us…Nobody Like Us.” Their marketing materials dub the F8, the eighth version of their Dogma bike, “the eighth wonder of the world.” Fausto Pinarello, CEO of Pinarello, proclaims of the bike: “Whoever rides the new F8 Dogma will immediately perceive the extraordinary work done by our team.” One hopes something is lost in translation. Yet the bike — along with its boisterous advertising and propensity for attracting rich white men — backs all the boasting up.

The Dogma F8 aims to provide the well-rounded cycling experience. Fausto Pinarello also states that the frame “achieves new significant numerical data, but more importantly, maintains the unique driving feeling.” Compared to the two-time Tour de France-winning Dogma 65.1, the F8 presents 12 percent more stiffness, 120 grams less weight and 47 percent better aerodynamic performance. But that doesn’t matter. Specifications are only good when they translate to ride — “that unique driving feeling.”

For an aero-inspired bike, it leaps up ascents, capitalizing on the same qualities that make sprinting away from cabs comfortable in Manhattan — it’s light, stiff, and keeps things stable if the road gets rocky.

In two months of riding the F8, the driving feeling that stayed with me (and the thing I actually miss about the bike, now that it’s returned) was the cushioned road absorption. While most competitive frames can achieve transcendence while logging miles on windy back roads — and there, the F8 does shine — the actual-world reality is that often the roads are bumpy, the views less scenic, the effort to propel oneself forward jostled by pocked streets and debris. Riding in New York, this is only amplified.

Yet the F8 takes its lumps, and absorbs them. That’s partially due to the Toray T1100 1K Dream Carbon carbon fiber, which the Japanese supplier has kept exclusive to Pinarello. This sheds 120 grams, but it also adds to performance stiffness without compromising ride quality. It’s bolstered by the FlatBack tube construction, which is often brought up when discussing the bike’s aerodynamics (the concept comes from Wunibald Kamm’s “Kammback” theories), but the design also allows for increased rigidity without compromising that necessary absorption flex. While commuting on the F8 (a semi-ridiculous proposition, but what else to ride?), even the bumpiest stretches of the Lower East Side weren’t overly fatiguing or frustrating.

The bike also climbs (even if not powered by the spindly legs of Chris Froome or the stalks of Richie Porte) like a champion. For an aero-inspired bike, it leaps up ascents, capitalizing on the same qualities that make sprinting away from cabs comfortable in Manhattan — it’s light, stiff, and keeps things stable if the road gets rocky. And while I didn’t find the F8 to be an exceptionally potent sprinter, it does accelerate well and is easy to maintain at high speeds. When one really strings out the pedals, the bike doesn’t launch forward with the likes of a more exclusively aggressive frame (an experience that was opposite that of Peloton‘s, but in line with BikeRadar‘s). The F8 is simply not focused on rigidity exclusively; of course, unless you’re competing on the crit circuit, that’s for the better. For 99.9 percent of the rest of the ride, you have the advantage on the rest of the field.

The overall question is not whether the Pinarello Dogma F8 is a good bike. It is. It’s a fantastic bike. The question is, do you spend nearly $6,000 on the frame of a bicycle? And that is a question between you and the depth of your wallet. Work past the pompousness of Pinarello. Work past the fact that some of your compatriots on Pinarellos might be obnoxiously self-absorbed. For a bike with these looks, at this stiffness, with this premium of a ride, there is currently nothing else on the road that truly competes. Yes, you pay for it. But every time you mount the saddle, the Italians have ensured you get your money’s worth.

Buy Now: $5,750 (Frame)

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