Beautiful handling characteristics and a great all rounder, but held back by the wheels and tyres
Handling is nothing short of wonderful
Comfy, for a race bike
In-house wheels are narrow and heavy
Tyres lack grip
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Pinarello has just overhauled its road range. Gone are the Prince (fast road) and Paris (endurance) models, replaced by the new F and X series. The F is there to cater to what Pinarello is dubbing its ‘Beat’ target market (as in beating other riders; competitive riding), while the X is there for ‘Play’ (as in… uh... play; playing). Head to our new-Pinarello news piece to see all the inner machinations of both the new ranges.
I was lucky enough to escape the appalling January weather in the UK and head to Spain to see the full range in the flesh, and spend some time aboard an F7, kitted out with the Shimano Ultegra Di2 build.
I will, in time, have a full review to regale you all with, but after 80 lumpy, demi-mountainous kilometres, plus another 20 cruising along the seafront marinas (when in Rome…), I’m ready to share my first impressions of a bike aimed squarely at the best road bikes segment.
Price: £7,000 / $8,800 / €8,850
Frame: Pinarello F
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Wheels: Most Ultrafast 40
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Bar/stem: Talon Ultra Light
Seatpost: Pinarello F
Saddle: Most Aircross
Design and aesthetics
I’ve never come across a company so openly devoted to the pursuit of aesthetic perfection. Sure, other companies make a point that they think its bikes are eye-catching and appealing, but this is the first time I’ve had a brand lead with the aesthetics. It is, according to the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, of equal importance to performance. That’s quite the claim for a company with such a stacked trophy cabinet. However, this is a new bike, and should be judged on its own merits, not on that of its forebears.
Still though, it’s a good-looking bike, right?
I get that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but even discounting the paint there's something about the F frameset. In a world where many bikes are beginning to look the same, it’s charming to be presented with a distinctive silhouette. I will admit that it bears a striking resemblance to the Dogma F, but I also think it cuts a more refined figure too. The indent halfway down the downtube is gone, replaced by a neater ramp to a flat section. The fork and stays are more or less visually identical, but the seatpost blends much more into the frame thanks to the seatpost being flush with the seat tube at the rear.
While black on black has always been the biggest seller for the brand (something I lament, by the way), I was lucky enough to get the red and black option. The paint is simple but accentuates the features of the frame: the fork curves look more curvy and purposeful thanks to the placement of the black lowers, and the seat post looks much more akin to an integrated seat mast thanks to the continued black rear on both the seat post and seat tube.
From an engineering perspective, it looks like a Dogma primarily because they have effectively the same geometry. The F has the same head angle, the same seat angle, the same bottom bracket drop, and the same stack. It has 2mm longer chainstays, and a 2mm longer reach, meaning the only tangible difference is a 4mm longer wheelbase.
There are a couple of design notes that are worth applauding too, beyond the looks and geometry. First up is that the frameset has continued to support mechanical drivetrains. Given the premium nature of the brand, I suspect it has 12sp Campagnolo Super Record Mechanical in mind rather than Shimano Sora, but regardless, more compatibility is always better than less in my eyes. The second is the use of a threaded bottom bracket. They aren’t always entirely creak-free, and they aren’t perfect in other ways too, but I think it’s the best option and it opens up a lot of relatively easy maintenance tasks to the home mechanic.
Whenever you swing a leg over a bike that is used at the highest tier of racing (I know this isn’t a Dogma, but the DNA is close enough for this to work) you expect something hyper-nimble; twitchy, responsive, and perhaps even a little unstable. I am very happy to report that this isn't the case at all with the F. It is perhaps the most well-rounded, mellow performance bike I’ve had the pleasure of riding in terms of its handling characteristics.
The new Colnago V4Rs only came alive when you were absolutely on the limit, and while not as twitchy as the older versions, the Canyon Ultimate is definitely a more twitchy bike even when you’re not giving it both barrels.
When you’re just ticking over, the F7 is gentle, comfortable even. It doesn’t really feel like a race bike when you don’t ask it to be. Bear in mind I'm basing this only on a brief 100km or so, but for long days out, I’d take this over the Canyon. When you ask it though, it’s still every bit a race bike. The geometry makes it a beautiful descender; it’s stable enough to give you the confidence to find the speed limits, but still sharp enough to dart around tight turns as though you're chasing Tom Pidcock on a descent.
Uphill, it doesn’t have quite the same snap as the Ultimate I have also been testing lately. It’s definitely an all-rounder, rather than a climbing bike given an aero overhaul. This only really manifests itself as an identifiable difference though when the gradients pitch up to the point where seated climbing becomes more or less impossible, and it’s by no means a slouch, but it’s just a little less taut. I suspect this has something to do with both the wheels and the frame being a little less stiff; the Canyon BB is press fit, allowing a wider, stiffer platform, but I’d still take the threaded system.
The groupset is more or less faultless, and to be honest, it’s so good that if you’re getting the Dura Ace equipped F9, you’d probably warrant considering a Dogma. Ultegra's more than good enough as a race groupset.
The main criticism I have of the F7 concerns the wheels and tyres. The Most Ultrafast 40 isn't a bad wheelset, but a 19mm internal width is a little old school by modern standards and does not support sidewalls as wider set wheels do. I don't think they'd sit amongst the best road bike wheels. They’re perfectly fine, but I’d rather see a more premium set considering the price tag. The Pirelli P7 Sport tyres, more so than the wheels, leave a lot to be desired. Even on smooth, dry tarmac, they don’t really inspire confidence, and with a hint of moisture on the roads they really aren’t great. I understand that brands build to a price point, and that they’re an easy swap, but if you’re paying this much for a bike then I think it’s reasonable to expect better tyres at the very least. Swap them out for something from our list of the best road bike tyres.
A mere 100km is too early to call on value really, but this bike in this setup retails at £7,000 / $8,800 / €8,850. That's notable in that it's £800 more than the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2, which features better wheels and tyres, and comes with a power meter.
There is undoubtedly a modicum of 'Italian Premium' to be paid, but only some further testing will be able to eke out if it stands up as a good bike or a good purchase too.
When testing what people would usually refer to as 'superbikes', the buzzwords tend to be 'aggressive', 'attacking', 'agile', etc. Not so much here; in my testing so far, the word that honestly springs to mind most is 'lovely'.
It's a lovely bike. Lovely to behold, and lovely to ride. It's the middle bowl of porridge that Goldilocks was so eager to wolf down. The handling and ride quality is spot on for big days out, and all-out racing too. I'm not sold on the wheels and tyres though, especially considering the price, but it's a premium Italian brand and so it's sadly always going to command a premium.
Given the similarity in geometry to the Dogma, it's really hard to fathom a situation where you'd need that marginal upgrade from a performance standpoint, unless you're genuinely competing at the highest level.
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Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.
Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross