Promotional feature with Pinarello
Glittering. There’s no other word for Pinarello’s professional cycling palmarès. The Italian brand’s bikes have won seven of the last 11 Tours de France and a total of 30 Grand Tours since Giovanni Pinarello opened his first shop in Treviso in 1952.
The latest Pinarello Dogma F, as ridden by the Ineos Grenadiers team, is the culmination of over 70 years of experience, innovation, skill and craftsmanship. Pinarello justifiably hails it as a masterpiece of engineering.
However, just as the Pinarello Dogma opened a gap over its WorldTour rivals in the Tour de France over the last decade, it was also becoming out of reach for the enthusiast or amateur who still demands a high level of performance, wants an iconic name on the down tube, expects the latest carbon-fibre technology, low weight, superior handling and class-leading aerodynamics but doesn’t need the flagship race bike.
“Modern professional cycling is getting faster and faster,” explains Maurizio Bellin, Pinarello’s head of R&D, “and the new generation of race bikes that the top athletes are riding is contrasting more and more with what’s best for the majority of racing cyclists.”
So Pinarello created the F Series, specifically designed to bring all of the brand’s pedigree and performance to a wider audience of competitive cyclists, available with multiple types of carbon-fibre and different build options to suit all levels.
The F Series has Pinarello’s race-winning DNA and is, as the brand says, born to race. But although the F Series is a direct descendent of the bikes developed for the WorldTour, it is a completely unique platform with particular features that make it more versatile for more people than the flagship race bike.
Bellin outlines the objectives of the original F Series project: “We started working on it about two-and-a-half years ago. The goal was simple: there are a huge number of cyclists who are looking for a race-performance bike with proper geometry, low weight, and aerodynamic gains. The Dogma is a very exclusive and customised product - we are focusing on custom colours, choices, very premium specs - but with the new F Series we wanted to design a frame that has a very similar performance but a less demanding spec and price point.”
Pinarello’s design process for the F Series - as with all its new race bikes - started with Bellin establishing what he refers to as the three pillars: “Every time we start a new project, along with our own long experience and long history of winning, we consider the three pillars - weight, aerodynamics and stiffness. Weight is there from historical records, but now we have an enormous amount of data on the other two that we can deploy.”
Key to balancing those three pillars is the carbon-fibre.
“We work very closely with Toray, our exclusive carbon-fibre suppliers,” says Bellin. “Every time my aim is to find the right carbon-fibre material to fit into the project that we’re working on - to find the right balance between strength and stiffness.
“For the Dogma F we use Toray T1100, which is above the spec of anything else in the market. That results in a stiffer, perhaps harsher bike, because it’s designed to win the Tour de France.
“So for the F Series, we’ve specified two types and not just one. It was not possible to keep only one to embrace all the needs of the customers of the F Series.”
Pinarello uses Toray T900 for the F9 and F7 models, a material that offers the perfect balance between responsiveness, weight and vibration absorption and which is designed for competition, while T700 is used in the F5 model. T700 maintains excellent responsiveness and performance but has a greater capacity to absorb road vibration.
“This is not a step down,” Bellin explains. “The F9 and F7 are extremely high-end performance products: T900 and T700 are what most of the industry uses as their premium carbon layups.”
Pinarello has famously never got involved in battles to produce the lightest frame since Fausto Pinarello has always believed that structural integrity and ride quality should come before the scales. He prefers to consider the entire system: seatpost, fork, handlebar and dedicated assembly components such as the F Series’s 3D-printed titanium seat clamp. However, Pinarello published the weights for a size 53 F Series unpainted frame: 950g for the F9 and F7; 990g for the F5.
With the raw material in place, Pinarello next turned its attention to the geometry of the F Series.
“The geometry is the result of a very long history in Pinarello of designing what we believe is the ideal geometry for racing,” says Bellin. “We have 11 sizes in the Dogma because we are fanatical about getting the perfect position. The F Series comes in nine sizes, which is still more than most brands, and it has the same geometry as the Dogma.”
The top race frame generally must have more sizes than most in order to fit all the professional riders on a team since custom geometry is banned by the UCI - but to offer nine sizes in a bike designed for enthusiast racers rather than pros is unusual.
Bellin explains: “Nine sizes means a huge range of possibilities to accommodate every type of racing orientation. With nine sizes you can select your exact frame size without needing to play with your stem length or saddle setback. We’ve seen many riders using a very small frame because they wanted compact, short geometry. But then they’re forced to use a very long stem. With a long stem the ride experience as well as the actual performance is compromised: there’s less stiffness at the bars and that’s not good for a racing bike.”
Although the geometry is the same, there are crucial differences between the Dogma and the F Series, and one of these is the latter’s increased tyre clearance. The F Series frames are designed to accommodate tyres up to 30mm - for better comfort on rough roads and lower rolling resistance - while maintaining an optimal chainstay length of between 406mm and 410mm across the sizes, which is crucial in keeping the rear triangle compact for fast, responsive handling.
Another innovation uniquely for the F Series is the location of the Di2 battery, which has been relocated from the seatpost to the bottom bracket area. Bellin explains: “The reason for relocating the battery is twofold: reducing the volume of the seatpost makes it lighter, and making it thinner improves aerodynamic performance.”
The F Series, like all of Pinarello’s bikes, was developed in CFD and validated in the wind tunnel.
However, there are familiar elements incorporated into the F Series that Pinarello aficionados will welcome. The distinctive wavy Onda fork, designed for precise cornering and improved shock absorption, has been a part of the brand’s technology since 2000. And the asymmetric rear end, which balances out the uneven force exerted by the chain on one side of the bike, is also still a crucial part of the design.
As for the builds, whereas the Dogma is only available with the flagship groupsets from Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo, Bellin says that “by offering a bike with different components and different groupsets that are not only the top ones makes it more accessible to a wider range of riders, especially a younger and more money-conscious type of consumer.
“With the Dogma you can choose custom colours, and that also sometimes requires a longer waiting time since they’re painted in Treviso one by one,” he continues.
“So for the F Series you can add a shorter lead time to those other things - different specs, different wheels and so on - that make it more accessible.”
And finally… what does ‘F’ signify? As in F Series and Dogma F?
“Ah,” says Bellin, “every single Pinarello that has the letter 'F' means those bikes have been designed with the best athletes from their discipline - road, time trial, track, cyclocross. When you see the F letter on one of our bikes that means it’s designed with an athlete for winning a race.”
The F Series, with its much broader remit and more accessible specifications, combined with Pinarello’s seven decades of experience, looks like a surefire winner.