The Pinarello Dogma F8 is the latest in a long line of Dogma models, but with a focus on aerodynamics it is the biggest departure from what has come before, and is the result of a development programme that pulled in much expertise from Team Sky and technical partner Jaguar.
Founded in 1952, Italian brand Pinarello has enjoyed huge success in professional cycle racing over the years but it's the company's recent history-making, with multiple Tour de France victories courtesy of Team Sky, that has sent its desirability through the roof with a whole new generation of cyclists.
So I've been out on this Campagnolo Super Record equipped Dogma F8 and the question is, is it really as good as the badge, hype and mighty price tag suggest?
Ride and performance
With its aero shaped frame and fork, low weight, deep-section carbon wheels and integrated aero handlebar, the Dogma F8 is certainly quick enough, but it's the way it delivers that speed that is most impressive. There's an immediacy to the way it responds, with absolutely no lag or flex noticeable through the bike when you stamp on the pedals.
But it's not all about speed. The Dogma F8 is fun and involving in a way that I simply wasn't expecting. It's agile and nimble, with a lovely balance in the way it steers and responds. Enhanced by plenty of grip from the excellent Continental tyres, the high level of precision makes steering it through bends a hugely enjoyable experience, and has you seeking out the best swooping bends in the area.
It's far from the smoothest ride – in fact it's quite firm – but the 22mm tubular tyres (not my first choice) at 90psi provided a ride that held back from being harsh on rougher surfaces. Just occasionally on very fast descents on broken roads, the ride can verge on erratic, but it never gets out of control, remaining composed on flat and bumpy roads – I can best describe it as involving. There's no vibration damping going on here as there is with some bikes such as Trek with its IsoSpeed decoupler or Bianchi's CounterVail; if it's comfort you seek, Pinarello's Dogma K8-S might be a better bet.
The frame's high stiffness provides a bike that, as I've said, reacts instantly to even your tiniest input or movement, making it a very engaging bike to ride. But it's the sort of bike you really need to take control of – it's not one for cruising along admiring the countryside. Give it your full and undivided attention and it rewards: it flows through corners beautifully, flies up climbs with the pace you'd expect of a stiff and light race bike, and descends with all the quality of the very best road bikes I've tested.
Geometry hasn't changed from the previous Dogma: the short wheelbase (998mm) keeps the handling nimble with a 72.8-degree head angle on the 56cm frame I tested providing pinpoint accurate steering that never felt twitchy at any speed, the way some very light and stiff race bikes can. The stack (the vertical measurement from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 389mm and reach (the horizontal measurement between those points) is 561mm, with a 158mm head tube, providing a comfortable but also quite stretched and low position ideal for keeping the pace up.
The Dogma F8 has been totally reworked from the previous version (which Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France on in 2012) with, as I've said, a focus on aerodynamics and weight. The new bike was developed with Team Sky's input – it's very much a bike designed to help deliver them a competitive advantage over their rivals – and they pulled in aerodynamic expertise from Jaguar, at the time a sponsor and partner of Team Sky.
The basis of the Dogma F8 is a frame made from high-quality premium Torayca T1000 1K Dream Carbon with Nano-alloy, which boasts a high stiffness-to-weight ratio (Pinarello was the first company to use this new carbon in a bicycle frame), with a complete redesign of all the tube profiles. Pinarello has followed a distinctive path of bicycle frame design over the years, but this latest frame has softened some of the previous tube shapes, so gone are the curvy fork legs and seatstays, and in are much more conventional tube profiles.
The tubes are shaped using the popular truncated airfoil profile, with a rounded leading edge and flat back, hence the FlatBack name. The result of those changes is, says Pinarello, a 26% aerodynamic improvement over the old model. It claims more aero savings have been achieved with the new fork, which now has legs that bow out to move them away from the wheel to reduce turbulent air, a change that Pinarello says nets a massive 54% aerodynamic improvement.
Other changes contributing to those aero savings include the seat clamp being integrated into the back of the seat tube, wishbone seatstays to shelter the rear brake, and a point head tube that extends forward of the front brake to smooth airflow in this area. Those redesigned tube shapes have also been designed with weight and stiffness in mind. Pinarello claims the frame is 80g lighter (860g for a size 54cm), the fork is lighter at 360g fork, and stiffness is up 12%.
The F8 retains the asymmetric design that's been a key part of the Dogma DNA for many years, counteracting the forces generated by the drivetrain, but Pinarello has sought to provide a more balanced frame. By carefully shaping the profiles of the down tube, top tube, seat tube and stays, the result – and it's Pinarello's claim, not ours – is a frame that is 16% more balanced and symmetrical than the old bike.
So there's all this state-of-the-art technology, and yet the bottom bracket is a traditional external Italian-threaded design. Apparently, this was a request from Team Sky as it preferred the reliability and ease of service the external bottom brackets provide over the more modern press-fit types prevalent on top-end race bikes.
Other details include full internal cable routing with Shimano Di2 and Campag EPS compatibility, and an aero seatpost with a simple two-bolt saddle clamp.
Aesthetics value is a subjective matter, but it's a bike that has grown on me immensely during my time with it. The frameset is finished to an exceedingly high standard and the red stripe on black carbon finish is tastefully done. And the paint work has proved to be durable during my time with it, which has involved riding less than perfect road surfaces with lots of gravel and stones flicking up off the front wheel and hitting the down tube.
Campagnolo's finest mechanical groupset, Super Record (read a full review here), was a perfect accompaniment for this frameset and delivered accurate and rapid shifting, along with confident braking on the Fulcrum Racing Speed XLR 50 carbon tubular wheels. The 1,324g claimed weight for the wheelset contributes significantly to the way the Dogma F8 rides and performs. Braking performance was good in the dry, though very noisy at times, and they resisted heat buildup during long and heavy braking zones.
The traction from the Continental tyres, despite their skinniness, was simply superb and helped to deliver a lot of confidence on poor road surfaces.
The Most Talon (Pinarello's own component brand) integrated carbon bar and stem has wide and flat tops for comfortable cruising and narrow ovalised drops that feel great in the hands. It does limit stem length adjustment, but the height can easily be tailored by moving the aero spacers around.
The F8 has a pretty narrow and extreme focus, as you'd probably expect of a bike developed to help Team Sky win races. This is a bike for riding fast on, and it delivers speed by the bucketload. If targeting PBs and training to be in the winning break of a race are your motives, then the F8 will suit you just fine. While you can ride it quite ably at more leisurely speeds, the comfort isn't on a par with the current crop of endurance bikes and the position won't suit those who can't tuck their back into an aggressive aerodynamic position.
Although it didn't feel out of its depth on some of the more irregular road surfaces of my local area, the ride is very firm, feeling quite rigid on some surfaces at higher speeds; a bit more compliance from wider tyres would have been appreciated at times, but tyre clearance is on the tight side for fitting wider rubber.
The fit and riding position is as low and extreme as you'd expect of a race bike, but that's not enough to detract from the outstanding level of speed, stunning power transfer, nimble handling through the corners and stability at high speeds that the Dogma F8 offers, and it's all wrapped up with a surprising accessibility.
To answer my opening question – is it really as good as the badge, hype and price tag suggest? – the answer for the first two is a resounding yes, but only you can decide if it's good value for money. The reality is that the mass manufacturing of carbon fibre and competitive marketplace that has developed over the past couple of decades means it's possible to get most of what the Dogma F8 offers in a package that is much more affordable, and there are plenty of choices outlined in the 'Rivals' section below. But while there are bikes that can hope to offer some of the qualities and performance of the Dogma F8, there are few that come close to accurately replicating its performance.
Bear in mind too that, although the bike on test is a whopping £8,250, you can get complete builds, using exactly the same frame, from £5,950 with a choice of Chorus, Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace, with various wheel options also available.
The closest competition to the Dogma F8 will be the brand new Bianchi Oltre XR4 that has just launched, and Mat is reviewing at the moment. Like Pinarello, Bianchi has taken to giving its top-end race bike an aerodynamic makeover. It also commands a similarly hefty price.
Other rivals include the Trek Madone, which goes for full integration in an effort to reduce drag, and you could add Canyon's excellent Aeroad into the mix for an affordable aero bike. There are options from Giant, Cervelo and Felt too.
Incredible speed, performance and handling from a Tour de France-winning bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pinarello Dogma F8
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
BOTTOM BRACKET Campagnolo Super Record Ultra Torque Italian
BRAKE CALIPERS Campagnolo Super Record Dual Pivot
CASSETTE Campagnolo Super Record 11-23T
CHAIN Campagnolo Record
CHAINSET Campagnolo Super Record Compact 52/36T
BIKE COLOUR BoB (Black on Black)
FORKS Onda F8 T1100 1K Carbon Asymmetric
FRAME Torayca T1100 1K Carbon Asymmetric
FRAME GEOMETRY Pinarello Standard
FRONT DERAILLEUR Campagnolo Super Record
NUMBER OF GEARS 22
BIKE HANDLEBARS Most Talon Carbon One Piece Compact
HANDLEBAR TAPE Pinarello Cork
WHEELSET Fulcrum Racing Speed XLR
TYRES 700x22mm Continental Competition
STEM Most Talon Carbon One Piece Compact
SHIFTERS Campagnolo Super Record
SEAT CLAMP Pinarello
HEADSET Pinarello 1"1/8 to 1"1/2 Tapered Integrated
SEATPOST Pinarello Air 8 T1100 1K Carbon
MODEL YEAR 2015
REAR DERAILLEUR Campagnolo Super Record
SADDLE Selle Italia
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The eighth generation of Dogma creates a play of words that can become a perfect advertising slogan: The Eighth Dogma ... the eighth wonder of the world.
In the past two years, Dogma 65.1 has been the most titled bike on the planet, winning the Tour de France twice, the World Championship and more than 100 Pro Tour races. The Dogma 65.1 has been a best seller without precedent for Pinarello and is universally recognised as a benchmark in the world of high end Road Bikes. Starting from these premises, you can imagine how difficult it was to improve this cult bike. Pinarello LAB, Team SKY and JAGUAR created a working group where everyone brought his decisive contribution. Team SKY with feedback from its athletes, Jaguar the Aerodynamics concerns CFD and Wind Tunnel testing, Pinarello LAB for cycling part, structural study and design. This synergy brought to light the Pinarello Dogma F8.
Pinarello Dogma F8 achieves new significant numerical data, but more importantly, maintains the unique driving feeling, which made previous Pinarello Dogma bikes unbeatable. Whoever rides the new F8 Dogma, will immediately perceive the extraordinary work done by our team, in creating a streamlined and aerodynamic bike without losing the typical characteristics of Dogma: a powerful and responsive bike for every track.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's evidently built and finished to an extremely high standard and the finish is immaculate.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Premium Torayca T1000 1K Dream Carbon with Nano-alloy. Pinarello was one of the first bike companies to use this carbon in a frame.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It retains the geometry of the previous Dogma 65.1 Think 2.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Spot on for me.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride is firm but composed over rough roads, though occasionally things can get a little choppy on very high speed descents where the road surface is very bumpy.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Huge stiffness evident in the frame and fork when sprinting and climbing out of the saddle.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Pinpoint accurate.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling was sublime, a very engaging and fun bike to ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Wider tyres, provided they fit, would add a bit more ride smoothness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I'd change the saddle, but that's purely personal. The rest of the components all delivered excellent performance.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
There's nothing I'd change, it all worked brilliantly.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Apart from the price, it's difficult to find fault with the Dogma F8. It delivers a scintillating ride full of spark and fun, and is very engaging.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.