Despite mulling over Pinarello Dogma's for many years I've never actually gotten round to riding one. Not sure why, but they have never really floated my boat. We have so many customers coming through the doors that absolutely love them, so it's always seemed wrong, with my indifference, to take one out of circulation that another rider would adore. Maybe it's the over hype engineered by Team Sky and then Ineos. It always felt to me like you were paying over the top for the kudos rather than anything performance related.
We purchased the 'Race Bike 3' batch directly from Team Ineos, meaning we had a good selection of F12 and F12 X-Light frames instore. The haul included some big named bikes including Froomey's last Ineos bike with all the winning coloured bands on (which we are keeping for show) plus Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe, Egan Bernal, Van Baarl, Dennis etc. It was quite some display drawing lots of gasps when people walked in to see the full rack above their heads.
With such an array, and the fact we needed one built up to show customers what the finished product could look like, I took one for the team and overcame my previous disinclination. Geraint Thomas's was the chosen one in a 56. We built with Dura Ace 9150 shifters, front mech and crank set, Ultegra Di2 rear mech (parts are a pain at the moment) Dura Ace direct mount calipers and Most Talon Ultra Integrated Handlebars. The final wheelset choice was a set of DT Swiss ARC 1400 Clinchers. To be honest these are a bit too deep for everyday riding but there was nothing else suitable available and they look the part.
So we built the bike and there it was looking super cool with Geraint's name on it. The full pedigree and clearly a machine I would do little justice to!. Whilst in the process of selling a different frame to a customer we showcased the built one. He was Welsh, a big Geraint fan, and he went all puppy eye'd. Being non Welsh I felt I had no option but to let this gentleman ride the bike of his hero, so we found another 56 and swapped the parts. There is a smiling Welshman riding around the environs of Guildford on Geraint's bike, if you see him give him a wave.
What I thought would happen is that I would ride the F12 and report back with an indifferent, 'yeh it's fast, yeh it's stiff, yeh it handles well, but not sure it's worth the dosh.' I'm very lucky to be able to ride top end bikes frequently so I don't really get blown away very often, the quality of modern bikes is so high (as is the cost!) that the differences are marginal between brands. My last favourite bike was a Colnago Concept in 2017, which I rode for a whole year, it was also the last time I had a rim brake set up.
What actually happened is that I was totally blown away! From the first pedal turn I felt like I was on an actual race bike. After a mile I was in love. It's a properly on-the-edge bike; the stiffness around the bottom bracket is insane, you feel like not a single watt is being wasted. It's really really fast in all situations but especially on climbs and I reckon I've gained a few yards up hills, with everything else equal. Descending is solid, and again, fast. The bike is light (7.4kg with pedals) and could be much lighter if needed. It's so nimble you feel totally in touch with the ride at all times.
Which leads me on to rim brakes, I've missed them; the simplicity. The bike feels so much less clunky. There's a reason so many pros revert to rim when they can. The direct mount brakes are really good and sure. I do admit though I would revert to disc for serious descending, like in the mountains, I'd now be too scared otherwise.
You can't just ignore the price though, because £5,000 RRP for a mass production frame is bonkers. The F8 version of the Dogma was toppy at £3,900, another 25% inflation on that in less than 4 years is a lot to stomach. How did we end up in a world where top model road bikes are price normalised around £10k? I also have a beef about the handlebars, which are great looking and really nice to ride - but £750!! You don't really have a choice either as any generic bars and stem look a bit odd. This should really be sold as a frame module at £5750.
Costs aside, it really is an incredible bike and lives up to its moniker as one of the best and most dominating bikes of the past decade.
The beauty of buying pre-owned is you can bring that down a bit and still get the same performance.
One of the best ways to upgrade your ride is wheels. We take a brief look at the best of the best - Chris King Hubs.