I didn’t want to like the Pinarello Dogma F8. It is too expensive. Too popular. Too well regarded. It had to be all hype, with those curvy forks and superlative marketing, right? How good could it really be?
I was certain it was going to be very nice bike, as almost all flagships models are, but not exceptionally so. I felt that all of the hyperbole surrounding the Dogma name was mostly the result of the loyal Italophile fan-base trying to justify their expensive purchase.
Let me be the first to say that I was very, very wrong.
First things first: the build. My Dogma came equipped with Dura Ace mechanical. Perfect as always. While an Italian bike feels like it should have a Campagnolo drivetrain, Dura Ace is about as good as it gets. It did have a compact crank, which was a bit of a bummer on a bike as racy as the Dogma. For wheels, I had Mavic Ksyrium SLE wheels. These wheels featured the Exalith braking surface that we had noise issues with previously. I am happy to report that we experienced no such issue this time around. The brakes did feel a little grabby, but it was minor.
The design goal of the F8 was to keep the same great riding characteristics of the 65.1 in a more aerodynamic package. Pinarello touts the new F8 as being 12% stiffer, 120g lighter, and a 47% improvement in aerodynamics over the 65.1 (which will remain in the line-up for the 2015 season). It seems like they have met their goal, but, as usual, we will have to take their word for it.
The F8 definitely looks more aero. The lines are smoother, flowing nicely into each other. This gives it a bit more of a classic shape; one that I think will look good for a long time. The ONDA 2 fork design on the 65.1 looked unique, but always felt a little gimmicky. With the F8, the new fork shape is more subdued, while still looking like a Pinarello.
In terms of geometry, Pinarello offers an incredible 13 sizes, so there is surely a size to fit any rider’s needs. We were told that every size offered is designed with the intent of having a 120mm stem. This is an incredible and often overlooked idea. We have found that the smaller sizes on most frames are offered with short stems (90mm). While you can always put a longer stem on any frame, the fact that the Pinarello was designed and dialed with this intent means that every size has the same great handling characteristics. This is especially relevant for those on the outer edges of the size curve. No matter your size or shape, Pinarello has a size for you.
I typically prefer a smaller frame (I am 6’2” and my personal bike is a 56), so I initially gravitated towards the 56. At the suggestion of the Pinarello reps, I later rode the 57.5 as well. Both bikes felt great, with only subtle differences in handling. Tough choices when you are dropping over $5k on a frame.
I see the Dogma as a legacy frame: one that you are going to keep for a very long time. In that case, because both sizes felt good, I would probably choose the 57.5 for myself, as it would allow for adjustment to a slightly more relaxed fit as I age. In addition, the longer front-centre is a little more stable and offers better toe overlap for my size 46.5 feet, while the 179mm head tube is short enough to get low with a -17 degree stem.
If I have to find a fault in the bike, the dual 2.5mm allen key seat post bolts would be one of them. We experienced no issues with post slippage or bolts stripping, but it does feel a little delicate. It will be interesting to see how it holds up long term. That being said, I don't mess with my seat post all that often so it is likely a non-issue.
In addition, while we loved the feel of the incredible DA brake calipers, we have experienced better braking on bikes with direct mount versions. When we asked about this, the reps said that it was something that they were looking into, but there was not yet enough industry adoption (i.e. Campy and SRAM do not yet have direct mount brakes)
One of our favorite features of the F8 is that it still uses a threaded bottom bracket! Almost all brands now use a press fit bottom bracket of some sort. Press fit systems allow you to push the frame material out wider for increased stiffness and oversized tubes. The issue that occurs with press fit is that slight intolerances between the fit of the BB and the shell can lead to creaking. In addition, threaded bottom brackets are much easier to install and maintain. I don’t know what kind of asymmetric magic Pinarello used to make the F8, but the acceleration felt better than anything that we have ever ridden.
There was an extra springiness when pushing or climbing; not in the sense that people use to describe the ride of steel, but a liveliness that felt like the bike was leaping forward. Made me feel like nothing was being wasted, and, near the end of the day, like there was more left in the tank than there actually. Whether real or imagined, the Dogma F8 makes you feel like a better, stronger rider.
While the F8 is an incredible capable race bike, it is not exclusively so. It felt perfectly happy and capable at any speed, never being twitchy or ill-mannered. The ride was remarkably smooth given the rest of the bike's stiffness. It seems to strike the perfect balance between dampening and road feel. Not harsh like some aero-race bikes can get.
Pinarello markets the Dogma as the ultimate road bike, and the word race does not appear anywhere in their materials. We can't help but agree.
By far the nicest, most dialed in bike we have ever had the pleasure of riding. Period.
Note: The newly released Dogma K8 S (‘S’ for suspension) does have direct mount brakes. They are said to be featured because of the increased mud and tire clearance that they offer. Also, another bike, the K8 (non suspension) is due to be released. No word on whether it will also have the direct mount standard, but it seems likely that it will. In addition, there are now disc brake versions of this bike.