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Pinarello Dogma F12 Disk review

22 Apr 2020
Verdict:

Say what you want about the looks and the brand, the latest Dogma F12 is one hell of a bike and every bit the Grand Tour winner you'd expect

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£10,750
For 
Balanced • Stiff • Comfortable • Incredible descender • Aero
Against 
Divisive looks • Price

Everyone has that one mate who just loves to criticise stuff, thinking it makes them sound intelligent/discerning/interesting. In my case, that mate has consistently made no secret of his dislike for the Pinarello Dogma ever since Team Sky (now Team Ineos) started winning on the Dogma 65.1. Even after having a go on a Dogma F10, and admitting it was really rather good, he added, ‘But I’d never want to own one.’

Much as I don’t share this view, I do get where he’s coming from. I’d love to own a convertible Ferrari, but would I actually want to be seen driving it? It’s a sad fact of human psychology that success often breeds resentment, beauty morphs into ostentation and some sports car drivers end up looking... otherwise to how they’d hoped.

Upping the numbers

So why do some people have my mate’s attitude about the Dogma? Well, one thing that crops up time and again is ‘those tube shapes’. They are, to say the least, idiosyncratic. Yet Pinarello’s product manager, Michele Botteon, responds that Dogmas have always looked like they do for a reason.

Carried over from the F10 is that scoop in the down tube and ‘tabs’ over the fork dropouts to help smooth airflow over the water bottle and disc brake, while the wavy fork and seatstays remain to help absorb road vibrations (thanks to longer continuous fibres).

So too the asymmetric design – the left half of the bike is overbuilt to cope with the fact that the drivetrain is on the right, and hence pedalling forces do not act on the bike evenly. But joining those are several key refinements.

‘Ineos asked for a bike that was even more reactive, but we knew we could not add more material as we could not increase weight,’ says Botteon. ‘Overall the F10 and F12 framesets weigh the same, but the F12 is 10% stiffer laterally at the bottom bracket because we made the chainstays more square in profile. The fork is also 40% stiffer because we increased the size of the left fork leg to cope with the uneven braking forces of discs.’

Added to that are claims of an 8 watt saving at 40kmh thanks to some redesigned tube shapes and full integration, with the D-shaped head tube affording enough space for hoses to navigate the fork steerer without having to exit the one-piece bars then re-enter the frame lower down, as per the F10. It’s all laudable stuff, but does beg the question: why hadn’t a lot of this happened before?

‘The F10 Disk was largely created by adding disc brakes to the F10 rim brake frame,’ says Botteon. ‘The F12 Disk has been designed separately but in parallel with the F12 rim brake.’

In other words, the F12 might be Pinarello’s first true disc brake Dogma, the design process having allowed engineers to create a bike with fewer compromises. But whatever and however Pinarello has done it, the Dogma F12 Disk is a frankly stunning bike to ride.

Find out more and buy the Pinarello Dogma F12 Disk now Pinarello UK

All in the downs

Pedalling off on the F12 is a bit like putting on a new pair of really comfortable shoes, sitting on a firm but expensive chair and having that chair suddenly dragged across an ice rink at speed. The sensation is smooth, it’s fast, it’s well behaved yet underpinned with a sense of menace. This is a bike that feels powerful – supremely stiff – but it doesn’t complain or rattle over poor surfaces. Nor does it allow those surfaces to unsettle the rider or undermine grip.

In this regard, the F12 is light years ahead of the Dogma F8, which I remember being superbly stiff but uncomfortable-bordering-on-skittish on bad roads. It’s also a noticeable improvement over the already well-rounded F10, and while that bike was aero-tuned I can’t remember it feeling as effortless in strong winds as the F12, which really feels like it’s lending you a hand as it cuts through a headwind.

Yet these alone aren’t the reasons why I grew to like the F12 so much. Rather it’s down to one simple thing – how the bike handles its speed.

Being so stiff, accelerations feel blistering, and a low, long, tight geometry puts handling in the sharp department, but it’s fast, sinuous downhills that are the F12’s true raison d’etre. Not that you can’t ride any bike down a hill quickly, but what the F12 offers is a supreme hold on the road, with even the worst surfaces unable to make the bike chat or skip or in any way come unstuck.

It’s this feeling – one of utmost stability – that breeds the confidence for a rider to push ever harder, and it’s why the Dogma might just be the best descending bike I’ve tested.

Give them a brake

So the Dogma F12 is fast, stiff, pretty comfortable and has fantastic handling and stability – what’s not to like? Well, much like the Scott Addict I reviewed last month, there’s the insane price, and if you’re like Team Ineos, you might also wonder about the weight, which at 7.62kg is beefy for a WorldTour racer. But at least where one of those things is concerned, a partial solution exits.

‘The Disk is slightly more aero than the rim brake bike because hoses can be routed internally, where the rim brake cables can’t,’ says Botteon. ‘But disc brakes add 250-300g to a bike, so Ineos still chooses to ride rim brakes. It’s one of the chief reasons we still make a rim brake F12, and why we built it with more powerful direct-mount brakes.’

Thus, while I can understand that for many people it just isn’t acceptable for a 10 grand bike to weigh over 7.5kg, I’d be willing to suffer the weight penalty for the dependability of discs, and indeed for the full integration disc brakes afford.

Beyond that? Well, beyond that I’d have to stop eating for several months to afford even the handlebars, and I’d have to suffer all the slings and arrows that might come with actually owning an F12 – even today, as I was finishing my most recent ride aboard it, I received a less-than effusive comment about the bike from an acquaintance.

But I’m almost convinced I’d be willing to put up with that. Dinner-less, I’d be lighter for the climbs, and elsewise, I couldn’t think of a more superbike-feeling bike to ride, even if there will always be dissenters. The price you pay for success, perhaps.

Find out more and buy the Pinarello Dogma F12 Disk now Pinarello UK

Verdict

Say what you want about the looks and the brand, but the latest Dogma F12 is one hell of a bike, every bit the Grand Tour winner you'd expect for the money... which is top dollar, but then again this is a top performer

Spec

Frame Pinarello Dogma F12 Disk
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Bars Most Talon bar/stem 
Stem Most Talon bar/stem
Seatpost Most Carbon Aero
Saddle Most Lynx Carbon
Wheels Fulcrum Wind 400 Disc, Pirelli P Zero 25mm tyres 
Weight 7.62kg (55cm)
Contact pinarello.com