I’ll be totally honest and say that I buy most cycling components based on their looks. Mainly because I just don’t see the point in buying something that is ugly. But I also believe that a truly great design will be reflected in the overall shape and style of an object. Over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate products which are designed & manufactured with this principle in mind. If something looks good and works well I can practically guarantee you that I’ll keep it and use it to its full potential for a very long time indeed. My aim is to take care of my possessions as well as I can and then hope they last me a lifetime.
This frameset was no exception. I fell in love with Pinarello from the moment I laid eyes on the Dogma way back in early 2000. But I’ve since been reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover…
Everyone has commented how it’s such a beautiful bike, but beneath all those sexy curves, it seems to behave differently than its looks would have you believe. On the bike, it feels very raw. Power delivery is instantaneous which is always a good characteristic when climbing. But likewise, the transference of shocks from the road directly into your body seems almost as quick. Coming half way back down Mt Teide on one of the first rides, a 14km descent, it felt like my kidneys were going to shake loose!
I came back from a shorter 20km ride today. Like all the roads in Tenerife, half are up and half are down. Going up was fun. When you want to put the power down it seems like there is no energy loss. The frame is just that rigid. The return journey coming back down was not so great. The tyres were at 90-95 psi and yet my arse was going numb after a quick 5km descent from all the vibrations!
On this bike, I feel all the bumps in the road pulsating straight through my shoulders. I’ll probably have to lower the tyre pressure a tiny little bit more, but that was something I never had to worry about on the other bike. Most of the structural components (wheels, bar, cranks) were essentially transferred straight over from my Mrazek road bike, a good way of eliminating them from the equation.
There are two words which are located just above the Italian flag, located on the seat tube “adrenalina italiana”. I think that sums up the handling nicely.
Onda Seat Stays & Fork:
Nothing seems to polarise cyclists more than those wavy Pinarello onda seat stays & fork blades. You either love them or you hate them. I think they’re very sexy, but some people say they look like the bike has partially melted in the sun! One thing is clear after riding the bike. I’m not convinced the Onda seat stays damp vibrations more effectively than straight seat stays. When you think about it, if the chain stays are oversized, how can the seat stays move to any great extent? The curvy fork blades may have slightly more merit, because given the same diameter, a metal spring is definitely more flexible than an equivalent straight wire. Even so, I didn’t notice the fork tips moving while riding along.
Quality of Construction & Overall Finish:
Really, I can’t find fault in this department. The paint job is immaculate. The masking & spraying has all been done by hand as you can see on this Pinarello factory tour video. The head tube badge & all the Pinarello decals are squarely applied. Fittings such as cable stops and bottle cage mounts look good and are secure. The gap between fork crown and head tube is minimal. The headset’s top cap fits the headtube diameter perfectly also.
As you are probably aware, each frame manufacturer has differenct characteristics, including sizing. Pinarellos are no exception – from what I’ve been able to determine, they tend to have relatively long top tubes and short head tubes for any given seatpost length. What this means is that they are built for racing and/or suit riders with longer-than-average torsos.
I found it hard to get my position right on this frame and it turns out I have longer-than-average legs. I’m best suited to a frame with a tall seat-tube to accommodate my long legs and a relatively short top tube for my shorter-than-average torso.
Normally I choose my frame size based on the seat tube length. This time, I decided to base my choice on the top tube length (as is commonly advised, because it’s the more important measurement). The theory is that it is much easier to change the height of the seatpost than it is to alter the horizontal reach to the handlebar (doing this also affects the steeering geometry negatively). What this approach fails to take into account is the head tube length. I.e. the final height of the handlebar position. Had I known this earlier, I might not have bought this bike.
On most road racing bikes, you can’t add more than 30mm of spacers without looking like a tw@t. So you also need to compare head tube lengths between bikes. I completely neglected this when buying the Pinarello. It turns out they have short head tubes.
I measure 180cm, hence I opted for the 55cm, with its 56cm top tube. I felt that the next size up (57cm) would have been too big since it has a 57.5cm top tube length. I’ve ridden other bikes with 57 and 58cm top tubes and they always feel too long for me. I end up too far forward, hunched over with a sore back.
The reach on the size 55 (the distance to the handlebars) feels good using a 90 or 100mm stem, another indication that a 57cm is too big for me. The only problem now is that the head tube is shorter than I’d like and the handlebar drops end up too low down for me to be comfortable using them on the extended descents here in Tenerife. Solution? I’ve recently ordered an FSA wing pro handlebar with a compact reach and shallow-drop. Hopefully that will allow me to install a 110mm stem, flipped if necessary, and still achieve the right reach & drop that I’m accustomed to. If not, I’ll reluctantly have to consider selling this frameset and chalk it down to experience. Ultimately I’m “trying to get a non-racing fit on a very race-y frame”.
Oversize Bottom Bracket (BB):
The bottom bracket on the Pinarello F3:13 is humongous. I remember when steel down tubes used to be half the width of a 68mm BB shell. On this frame, the oversized carbon down tube takes up the full 70mm width of the BB shell. The down tube has a triangular cross section, so the junction into the seat tube is absolutely massive. Another oddity: this frame uses Italian BB threads. They are tapped with 36 mm x 24 tpi threads instead of the standard 1.37″ x 24 tpi English threads. Be careful because they also use normal right-hand thread on both drive side and non-drive side cups.
31.0mm Seatpost Diameter:
The F3:13 frame has a rather unusual 31.0 seatpost size. Before you commit to buying this frame, know that seatposts with a 31.0mm diameter are almost impossible to find. Apart from the original M.O.S.T brand, other manufacturers that make 31.0 mm seatposts are Selcof, BBB and possibly WR composites (please post a comment below if you encounter others). Another option is to install a seatpost shim which will reduce the diameter to something more conventional like 27.2mm.
Note that I have fitted this bike with a 30.9 seatpost, are a far more common size, but so far I’ve had to use a thin piece of paper to shim the tiny gap. A piece of aluminium foil from the kitchen had the ideal thickness, but proved to be too delicate.