Fausto Pinarello: We don't think a high-performance bike needs disc brakes

Italian talks bike design, brand and why he sold a majority stake to an investment fund

Pinarello recently unveiled its new Dogma F10 model, and soon Team Sky riders were using the new bike at the Tour Down Under. However, the Dogma F10 does not have disc brakes, and Fausto Pinarello has told Cyclingnews that the Italian company has no plans to produce a disc brake version of its top of the range machine.

Pinarello made a disc brake version of its Dogma F8 and Fausto Pinarello is fascinated by cycling technology, but he still has to be convinced by the need for disc brakes.

"The big brands want to push people towards disc brakes because that way there are fewer bikes design options out there and so they can dominate the market even more. If everyone is on disc brakes, then it's easier for them. It doesn't work that way for us," Pinarello tells Cyclingnews, unafraid to ruffle the feathers of his rivals in the high-end bike market.

"At the moment we don't think a high-performance bike needs disc brakes. In the future perhaps, but probably with another braking system. I don't know which, but perhaps even one with the disc attached to the frame or something."

"I think the only people who need disc brakes are those who are heavy or are scared on long descents. Disc brakes could help them, but pros don't need them. There are 30 riders at Team Sky and if they all come to me and say that they think disc brakes work and that they want then, then okay. But I don't think that's the case. If it rains, they'll simply go a little slower."

Fausto Pinarello took a place of pride at the front of the group ride when the new Dogma F10 was presented to the media, including Cyclingnews, in the shadow of Mount Etna in December.

He has a unique fluorescent coloured Dogma F10 and is naturally proud of his company's latest creation. Pinarello is a designer brand and it was no surprise that investment company L Catterton, the private equity partners of the luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy, recently invested a significant sum in the business.

Pinarello had a turnover of 52 million Euros in 2015, according to Italian media reports, and sells 90% of its 30,000 bikes outside of Italy. Pinarello bikes are amongst the most expensive in the world, but Fausto Pinarello is convinced that he produces and sells something special.

"Our bikes perhaps cost a bit more that others but we think we offer more. We're making one of the best bikes out there, and people enjoy riding it. And we know that our bikes are a good investment for to the pleasure they create. I see the price of Pinarello frames on EBay, I know they sell well even after a few years. That means we're all getting a good deal out of it; us, the distributors, the dealers, Team Sky and our clients.

"We've got some rivals who don't change their frame designs for four or five years, but we do it more frequently, every two or three years. That irritates some people, but we always try and give something extra, something new. Our clients want that. They love to change their bikes just like I do.

"We've always got to thank our customers, look after them and give them something new to ride. They expect us to be innovative and push the design of our bikes."

"So does Team Sky, that's why we'll be working together until at least 2020. They've stuck with us because together we've worked on creating some special new bikes. With Team Sky there's no bluffing. They know their stuff too. They know if a bike is good or not. If they're happy with how the bikes perform, then we've done 90% of our work, and we know that our clients will be happy too."

Fausto Pinarello leads the F10 presentation ride

Designed for the new Shimano Dura-Ace Di2

Pinarello opted to go against industry tradition and unveil the Dogma F10 on the same day the Team Sky riders arrived for the Tour Down Under. There was no waiting for the next big bike show or the summer sales window, Pinarello also aligned its launch of the Dogma F10 with Shimano's distribution of the new Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. Pinarello managed to secure 500 of the first groupsets to give to clients and dealers who ordered the Dogma F10.

The Dogma F10 is one of the first to hide the new Dura-Ace Di2 battery in the down tube, with the so-called E-Link interface positioned above the water bottle area, allowing a plug-in position for recharging and updating the system.

"We have our style. Not everybody likes us. Our rivals probably like me even less, but there's not much I can do about that. We feel we've got justify everything we do with our bikes. I ask my engineers to produce real results, real improvements. If a bike is also beautiful as well as performing, then that's good too."

"We worked to ensure the bike is immediately available to our clients, at the same time as Team Sky got the bike for the new season. When someone sees something new in a shop, they want it straight away, not in three months time. You've got to have your product ready. We did that with the F8 and now again with the F10."

"We got the Shimano Dura-Ace groupsets before anyone, even before many of the pro teams. That's because we're the biggest client for Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 in the world, and probably for SRAM eTap, too."

The future of Pinarello

Fausto Pinarello confirmed in late December that L Catterton had acquired a majority stake in Pinarello Spa. He will remain in his role as CEO with a minority stake but has no plans of retiring. He gave details of why the deal happened and his plans for the long-term future. With the new investment from the European and North American branches of L Catterton, Pinarello plans a global expansion into concept stores in some of the most prestigious capital cities in the world.

"I've got two partners – my sister and my sister-in-law, who wanted to leave the company. They're not directly involved in the running of the company, and so I understand them," Fausto explains.

"So our goal was to bring in someone else who can help us grow. It'd perhaps be more logical to cash in and head to the beach, but I don't want to do that. I've decided to do the same job for the next 10-15 years. I want to do more and do better, but it's difficult on your own."

"I think it's good that investment groups have entered the bike industry in recent years. There are quite a few now, so there's no reason why Pinarello can't tap into the funds available. I could remain the same, but I'd like to grow even more, without just selling out to the highest bidder. You know why? Because the bikes have my family name on them. I want my name to be on a cutting-edge bike in a 100 years time."

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