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Pinarello Dogma F10: Launch and first ride review

10 Jan 2017
Verdict:

Pinarello's new flagship race bike, the Dogma F10, is an update to the F8 and claims to be stiffer, lighter and more aero

Just in time for the new racing season, Pinarello has unveiled the bike that Chris Froome and the rest of Team Sky will be riding in 2017: the Dogma F10. At first glance, it looks remarkably similar to the previous F8 (there is no F9 – the company simply decided that F10 sounded better), but Pinarello claims to have made improvements in stiffness, weight and aerodynamics, albeit fairly small ones.

Where the F8 was a radical redesign compared to its forerunner, the Dogma 65.1, the F10 is a subtle upgrade, with much left unchanged from the previous version. That’s probably a smart move, seeing as the F8 has proved itself over the past three years by winning 90 pro races for Team Sky, according to Pinarello, including two Tour de France titles. The F8 has also been Pinarello’s best-selling frame ever, so it’s understandable that it doesn’t want to make too many alterations to a winning formula.

Bigger down tube

The biggest change is at the down tube, which is now significantly chunkier. It has borrowed heavily from the down tube on the Bolide TT, Pinarello’s newest time-trial bike, and the idea is that the extra girth allows air to flow more smoothly around the water bottle, which is partially hidden in a concave recess.

The result of this change, according to Pinarello is an impressive 12.6% reduction in drag at the down tube (with a water bottle in place). When Cyclist asked Pinarello engineer Paolo Visentin how this affected the drag for the bike as a whole, he responded that overall drag reduction is in the region of 3-4%, which is small but not insignificant at a time when any additional gains are getting harder and harder to come by.

Without the bottle in place, the new down tube offers only a slight aerodynamic advantage over the F8, but as Massimo Poloniato, another Pinarello engineer, points out to us, ‘We designed the frame with the bottle because you always ride with a bottle.’ It’s a fair point.

Sleek and stiff

Another nod to improved aerodynamics comes with the flaps behind the fork dropouts, as seen on the Bolide TT and Bradley Wiggins’s Hour record-breaking track bike, the Bolide HR. These little nubbins smooth the air as it passes the dropouts, helping to offset the drag caused by the quick release skewers. It may seem like a minor adjustment, but Pinarello claims it has improved aerodynamics at the forks by 10% on the Bolide TT. The fork flaps on the F10 are smaller than on the time-trial bike, so offer fewer aero gains (Pinarello hasn’t given exact figures) but the company claims it is the best compromise of drag reduction and additional weight.

Also the forks have been widened slightly to make it easier to accommodate 25mm tyres, but other than that the tube shaping remains remarkably similar to the F8, and the overall geometry is identical.

On closer inspection, an almost imperceptible change is that the down tube has shifted across to the right by about 2mm at the point where it joins the bottom bracket shell. This is all part of Pinarello’s principle of asymmetry, whereby the bike needs to be stiffer on one side than the other to compensate for the fact that the drivetrain sits on one side, and so the forces on the frame are not equal on each side.

By shifting the down tube slightly compared to the F8, Pinarello claims that it contributes to a 7% increase in overall stiffness of the frame, which in turn has allowed the engineers to strip away some carbon fibre, leading to a reduction in frame weight of 6.3% (a size 53cm frame is a claimed 820g, down from 875g for the F8).

Are friends electric?

When Team Sky saddle up for the Tour Down Under in a few days’ time, their F10s will be specced with Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 Di2, and perhaps one of the significant reasons for the creation of the F10 is its compatibility with the new electronic groupset.

The bigger, flatter down tube of the F10 has provided space to integrate the E-Link junction box for the new Di2, making a neat unit for adjustments and recharging, and removing it from its previous position beneath the stem, where it was both unattractive and unaerodynamic.

As before, the battery is hidden away inside the frame, and the cables are internalised to keep everything as neat and aero as possible. For those who don’t want to go electric, the frame is compatible with all other groupsets, mechanical and electronic.

The big sell

So who is the F10 aimed at? Other than those with deep pockets, Pinarello has made sure that the new bike stays true to the concept of the ‘all-round race bike’. It’s not the lightest or the most aerodynamic bike in the pro peloton, but it aims to do everything well – climbing, descending, sprinting – while looking good at the same time.

The changes to the bike in terms of weight, stiffness and aerodynamics help to make the headlines, but perhaps the most important element is what Pinarello hasn’t changed. Exceptional handling is what Pinarello prides itself on most, and so it has been at pains to ensure that this characteristic of the F10 hasn’t been affected by any of the other updates.

First ride review

The Pinarello F10 has a lot to live up to. Its predecessor, the F8, has two Tour de France victories to its name, thanks to Chris Froome, as well as a host of other wins. Team Sky will be racing the F10 for the first time at the upcoming Tour Down Under (starting 15 th Jan), but Cyclist was fortunate to get to test ride the new bike at the launch in Sicily back in December.

There was a great deal of secrecy surrounding the launch, as Pinarello didn’t want details of the bike getting out before its official release date of 10 th January, so the small peloton of journalists was under strict instructions not to be photographed by members of the public as we rode around Sicily’s streets in the shadow of Mount Etna. Considering we were all in matching kit emblazoned with the F10 logo, and we had a couple of Italian Team Sky riders in attendance, we were hardly likely to go unnoticed by the other cyclists out on the roads. I was uncertain as to how we should prevent unwanted photography, but having resolved to tackle any camera-toting bystanders to the ground and forcibly delete their photos, we set off on our ride.

In the wheel tracks of champions

Joining us for our test ride were Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon and Elia Viviani, the latter of whom was still basking in his omnium victory at the Rio Olympics. To ride with a pro does strange things to you. I found myself paying more attention than normal to my posture on the bike, and I put in a lot of effort into trying to look effortless on the ascents. Fortunately, the F10 helped a lot in this regard.

I loved the F8 for its poise and balance, and the F10 has exactly the same feeling. As we slipped along Sicily’s rural lanes, I noticed how at ease I was with the bike, despite having only thrown a leg over it for the first time a few minutes earlier. It positively glided, with only minimal effort required to tease it through corners or accelerate it back to the group (usually after I’d become distracted by a sea view).

I found the F10 particularly adept at climbing, despite it not being a specific ‘climber’s bike’. Pinarello has shaved a few grams from the F10 compared to the F8, but I couldn’t notice any difference. What I could notice was the efficient way any force on the pedals translated into forward motion thanks to the incredible stiffness of the frame, which meant the bike cruised up slopes with no wasted effort.

As I drifted up one long climb, I became aware of a whooshing noise from behind me, and I barely had time to turn my head before Viviani came sprinting past, testing out the bike’s properties for himself. I put on a brief spurt of speed, but by the time I rounded the next corner he was already out of sight. The next time I saw him was at the top of the climb, perched on his top tube and taking in the view towards Mount Etna.

It seemed like a good opportunity to ask him about his own views on the F10 and whether he could discern any differences to the F8. ‘For sure,’ he replied in stuttering English. ‘I can feel the geometry is the same, but I feel the bike is simple to move in the corners. It’s a really stiff frame. You feel it when you push on the pedals – it’s ready to go. I think we’re going better and better with every frame we change.’

He’s right about the corners. If there was one thing I enjoyed more than climbing on the F10, it was descending. The bike tracked bends with precision, letting me weave through a series of switchbacks with the confidence to stay off the brakes, something I was extremely thankful for while attempting to stay on the wheel of WorldTour pro in full flight (while trying to look nonchalant).

Handling is something that Pinarello bikes have become renowned for, and the company was at pains to ensure that the new F10 ‘rides like a Pinarello’. As we dropped down the long descent to the coast, it quickly became apparent that it had succeeded. The F10 handles as assuredly as any bike I have ridden. Both Viviani and Moscon told me that they could feel it had a little extra nippiness compared to the F8 – a bit more racy in its handling – but I’d have to take their word for that. For me, it felt like a bike that flatters its rider, making every sharp turn or sudden movement feel easy to control.

On the flatter sections, the F10 should outperform the F8 thanks to slightly improved aerodynamics, but I struggled to notice any change. It certainly zipped along, again with the impression that not a watt of power was being lost to flex, but it wasn’t discernably different to the F8. That stiffness does mean that the bike could be quite harsh. Our ride only lasted for around 70km, and was on pretty smooth roads, so I’d need to give it a longer outing on the pothole-strewn roads of Britain before I could really comment on the compliance levels of the F10, but it’s plain that Pinarello didn’t put comfort high on the list when designing the F10. It’s a race bike, and its job is to put Chris Froome on the top step of the podium, not to ensure he has a pleasant outing.

The verdict

If Chris Froome can take yellow at this year’s Tour de France, it will elevate him to a very exclusive group of four-time winners, and ensure the Pinarello Dogma F10 gains legendary status.

For me, I struggled to notice significant differences to the F8, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The F8 was an exceptional bike, and the F10 is too, only now you can have the latest Dura-Ace Di2 all neatly imbedded in the frame. (For the record, the new Di2 functions exactly like the old Di2.)

As soon as Cyclist gets hold of an F10 for a more in-depth test, we can get a clearer picture of its abilities, but there’s no doubt that this bike contains all that was best about the F8 and perhaps has a little bit extra to offer.

If Froome fails to make it to number four, he won’t be able to blame the bike.

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