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review

Pinarello Prince FX Disc 2020

7
£5,500.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Firm, fun and fast bike to ride with excellent handling, but the price is high
Weight: 
8,430g

The Pinarello Prince FX Disc is a very fast bike, pure and simple. Both frame and fork are hugely stiff which, when paired with the fast and direct steering, gives you a ride experience that will leave a massive grin on your face – as long as you can cope with the firm ride on our less than perfect UK roads.

  • Pros: Very responsive frameset; plenty of aerodynamic benefits
  • Cons: Frame can feel harsh on rough roads; it's crying out for some lighter wheels

I rode the rim-braked version of the Prince FX back at the beginning of 2019 and was really impressed with the way it behaved. This new offering is very much the same, but comes with the addition of disc brakes.

> Buy this online here

Ride

With it being the best part of a year since I rode the Prince FX, I'd forgotten just how 'urgent' these bikes feel, pretty much all of the time. This disc model may be carrying an extra 400g, but it still takes off like a rocket, squandering absolutely none of the power you are putting down. You can feel the stiffness at the bottom bracket as you crank the bike over from side to side under huge acceleration, and once you are up to speed it's a breeze to keep it there.

Pinarello Prince FX riding-3.jpg

Whether it is the aerodynamic detailing of the frame and fork helping is hard to say, but the Pinarello certainly feels like it flies along at 20-25mph.

It's really begging for a bigger chainset, though, like at least a 52/36 over the compact 50/34 it is currently wearing, for a few extra top end gears.

Pinarello Prince FX riding-9.jpg

With all of this stiffness it'll come as no surprise that the Prince FX Disc climbs well. The 8.43kg (18.6lb) isn't too shabby among disc-equipped bikes, and ascending, whether in the saddle or out of it, is achieved with relative ease.

When descending, the handling isn't race bike sharp but it's right on the edge of that, delivering plenty of precision and speed while just keeping the right side of twitchy.

On technical sections, smooth adjustments in body position help you carve from apex to apex, and should you need to brake hard to make the next bend the stiffness of the fork keeps everything in check when the pads grab the disc rotor.

The Prince takes quite a few of its design cues from the top end Dogma, but the geometry is just slackened off a touch, which means the FX Disc is great for covering big miles on too. This test model came with a massively long 130mm stem which did put me in quite a stretched-out position; swapping to a more standard 110mm gives a much more user-friendly endurance-style fit.

Pinarello Prince FX riding-8.jpg

If you are out for a while the only thing you're going to need to deal with is the firmness of the ride, especially if you are sticking to country lanes.

I quite like a firm ride – in fact, when I'm riding a race bike, comfort doesn't come that high up the list, to be honest – but there were a few times when even I winced on the Pinarello. It's not uncomfortable as such, it's just that it is a little bit unforgiving, allowing more road buzz and vibration through than many other bikes of this price level. Often, but not always, higher end framesets tend to be more refined and have a smoother ride because of the carbon choice and layup.

The FX Disc can easily take 28mm tyres, enabling you to knock a bit of pressure out to take the edge off.

Pinarello Prince FX - clearance.jpg

Frame and fork

The difference between the Prince FX Disc version and the Prince Disc is the grade of carbon fibre used. The standard Prince Disc uses Toray T700, while the FX is made from T900, making it lighter and stiffer.

Pinarello Prince FX - UCI badge.jpg

Pinarello has brought over various aerodynamic concepts from other bikes in its catalogue for the Prince's frame and fork. First up, you'll notice the concave down tube which is a design taken from the Bolide time trial bike, the theory being the sunken shape places the water bottle and cage out of the airflow.

Pinarello Prince FX - down tube.jpg

You'll also see that the Prince has three bottle mounts on the seat tube, allowing you to position your second bottle higher up for ease of use, or lower towards the bottom bracket to, again, benefit aerodynamics.

Pinarello Prince FX - bosses 2.jpg

For a clean look the Prince FX Disc has full internal routing for the hoses, cables and wires and is compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets. There is a small opening behind a cover on the down tube, providing a space to hide junction boxes and various electronic gubbins if needed.

Pinarello Prince FX - down tube detail 2.jpg

Various parts of the frame are designed asymmetrically to withstand the various forces placed on them from braking and pedalling – the chainstays and seatstays, for instance.

Pinarello Prince FX - seat stay.jpg

The bottom bracket is a traditional bearing cup setup, though it is threaded the Italian way, as you'd expect on a Pinarello.

Pinarello Prince FX - bottom bracket.jpg

Up front the hourglass tapered head tube creates a smooth junction between the down tube and top tube for more aerodynamic benefits.

Pinarello Prince FX - head tube badge.jpg

The fork is integrated into the bottom of the down tube for added wind-cheating and Pinarello has stuck with its Fork Flaps at the dropout, which work with the thru-axle levers when the bike is travelling at speed.

Pinarello Prince FX - front disc brake.jpg

The fork legs are bowed outwards, too, something that we have seen on others such as the Storck Fascenario, to allow the air to pass through and prevent aerodynamically unfavourable vortices of the airflow apparently.

Pinarello Prince FX - fork.jpg

The seatpost uses an internal wedge system to keep it secure, and it works absolutely fine with no slippage issues at all.

Pinarello Prince FX - seat tube detail.jpg

Many brands keep their range of sizes quite small because of the cost of creating the carbon fibre moulds, but Pinarello offers the Prince FX Disc in a massive 11 sizes from a 503mm length top tube through to 620mm. It also comes in quite a few colours, although the orange of our test bike divided opinion in the office. I really like it; it certainly stands out, and the overall finish is very good indeed.

Pinarello Prince FX.jpg

Build

The Prince FX Disc is available in two builds, Shimano Ultegra Di2 or the one we have here, Ultegra mechanical.

Pinarello Prince FX - drivetrain.jpg

The current R8000 version of Ultegra is absolutely beautiful to use, and here it comes with the R8020 shifters/brake levers to work with the hydraulic callipers.

Pinarello Prince FX - drop bar and shifter.jpg

Compared with earlier versions, the hoods of the shifters have shrunk in size as Shimano has tweaked the hydraulic internals and layout, and now their shape isn't far off that of the rim brake versions. They are comfortable to ride on for hours and the shifting is top notch, as is the braking power from the 160mm rotors front and rear.

Pinarello Prince FX - rear disc brake.jpg

Pinarello has gone for a compact 50/34 chainset and an 11-28 cassette, which does offer a decent spread of gears at the top and bottom, although as I said earlier, I'd definitely be switching to a 52/36 if it was my bike, or possibly even a 53/39 to match the performance of the Prince FX Disc.

Pinarello Prince FX - crank.jpg

Most is Pinarello's in-house component brand, and the FX Disc has a Most handlebar, stem and saddle.

The bar is aluminium, unlike the carbon version we had on the rim brake FX, but it does have a nice shape to it, with its flattened tops giving a comfortable place to rest your hands.

Pinarello Prince FX - bars 1.jpg

The bar tape is also by Most and has a decent level of padding. It's grippy, too.

The stem is also made from alloy and, as I've mentioned, is a very long 130mm – ideal if you want that pro look. Its teardrop steerer cap is designed to add a little more aerodynamic bling to the proceedings when paired with the spacers.

Pinarello Prince FX - stem.jpg

The saddle is called the Lynx and it is a bit of a budget offering on a £5,500 bike, with a nylon shell and manganese rails, but I found its short length and curved hull to be quite comfortable. I certainly wouldn't be in a rush to change it.

Pinarello Prince FX - saddle and post.jpg

Wheels and tyres

I criticised the entry-level wheels on the FX rim version and I'm going to do the same here. The Fulcrum Racing 500 wheels are original equipment offerings of the Racing 5. It's a decent enough wheelset in its own right, but not what I'd be expecting on a bike of this price.

Pinarello Prince FX - rim.jpg

I also had some Fulcrum Wind 40 DB carbon fibre wheels in for testing (you can read my thoughts here), which found their way onto the Pinarello, and while the overall weight difference wasn't much, the better ride quality and added bonus of the deeper rim section made a difference to the performance.

The Racing 500s work fine as general everyday training wheels, though, and stood up well to any abuse I gave them out in the lanes.

Pinarello Prince FX - rear hub.jpg

Also pretty good were the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Graphene 2.0 tyres. Rolling resistance is perfectly adequate and the grip is good in both the wet and dry. Something a little more supple would really let you exploit the performance of the Prince FX to its limits, but the Vittorias were also reliable too on the hedge-cutting-strewn roads.

Value

Pinarello has always gone down the reassuringly expensive route, and this is a very good endurance/race style bike. The frame quality is brilliant and if you can deal with the firmness it delivers an awesome ride experience. Against the opposition, though, you are paying quite a lot for it.

Pinarello Prince FX riding-5.jpg

The Bianchi Infinito CV Ultegra Disc follows a similar theme to the Prince FX Disc, with a quality frame and fork, a hydraulic/mechanical Ultegra groupset and Fulcrum wheels well under spec for the bike.

The weight is about half a kilo lighter but it 'only' costs £4,475, and if you can do without the Countervail (CV) vibration damping, a similarly specced Infinito XE model can be yours for £3,200.

> road.cc Superbike of the Year 2019/2020

BMC has the Roadmachine 02 Two, a fast endurance-style bike which David also felt had a slightly too firm ride for UK roads. An Ultegra build with Mavic Aksium wheels is priced at £3,300.

Another bike I was riding alongside the Pinarello was the Specialized Roubaix Comp, which is a little different to the Prince FX in the way that it has the suspension system at the front, but it is still a fast endurance bike. It's the same weight as the Pinarello, but comes with an Ultegra Di2 groupset and costs £4,400.

Conclusion

Overall, I really liked riding the Prince FX Disc. It's an absolute blast and it certainly looks the business, but when comparing it to all of the other similar bikes I have ridden, I would just feel a little short-changed considering its overall price.

Verdict

Firm, fun and fast bike to ride with excellent handling, but the price is high

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Pinarello Prince FX Disc

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Pinarello lists:

BOTTOM BRACKET: Italian threaded

STEM: MOST Alloy Aero

HANDLEBAR: MOST Alloy

FRONT BRAKE: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic 160mm Rotor

REAR BRAKE: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic 160mm Rotor

BRAKE LEVERS: Shimano Ultegra R8020

FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra R8000

REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 11-speed

SHIFT LEVERS: Shimano Ultegra R8020, 2x11-speed

CASSETTE: Shimano Ultegra R8000 11-28t

CRANKSET: Shimano Ultegra R8000 50/34t

FRONT WHEEL: Fulcrum Racing 500 DB, 700c clincher

REAR WHEEL: Fulcrum Racing 500 DB, 700c clincher

FRONT TYRE: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700x25c, clincher

REAR TYRE: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700x25c, clincher

SADDLE: Most Lynx

SEATPOST: Pinarello Prince FX Carbon

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?

Pinarello says, "The engineering of the Pinarello Prince FX Ultegra Disc Road Bike is heavily influenced by the top-end Dogma model. It's more of an all-rounder, but it's still stiff and incredibly fast. The Torayca T900 carbon construction sits between that of the standard Prince and the Dogma and, when paired with an Onda carbon fork, makes for impressive acceleration, direct handling and control. Aerodynamics were a big consideration in the design, with FlatBack tubes and a concave downtube that tucks your bidon out of the wind. Where the fork meets the frame there's an integrated section to smooth airflow, and the bowed fork design allows air to pass through the spokes with less resistance."

The ride is very much like a full-on race bike, with the steering just backed off a touch to stop it being too twitchy.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

There are four Prince models. The Prince Disc and Prince are constructed using cheaper T700 grade carbon fibre, while the Prince FX and Prince FX Disc are made from T900. All models are based around a Shimano Ultegra/Ultegra Di2 groupset.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The build quality is top notch, as is the paint finish.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

From Pinarello:

FRAME: Pinarello Torayca T900 carbon technology, asymmetric design, Think2 System with E-Link™, ICR™ Internal Cable Routing, Drop in Bearing System 1' 1/8 - 1'1/2, Italian threaded bottom bracket, FlatBack Profile aerodynamic tubing, UCI approved, disc brake specific

FORK: Pinarello Onda Carbon with ForkFlap, disc brake specific

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

It sits somewhere between a race bike and an endurance bike.

Full geometry details are here.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

This size has a reach of 390mm and a stack of 575mm, which is what I'd expect for a bike like this whose geometry sits somewhere between race and endurance. The head tube is a little taller than a race bike, at 170mm.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The ride quality is good but its firmness does lead to some road buzz on rougher roads, which takes the edge off the comfort.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Very stiff, to help really lay the power down.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Its ability to transfer power is probably what makes the Pinarello so much fun to ride.

Was there any toe overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No overlap.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? On the lively side but without being twitchy.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It's a race-orientated bike so the steering is quick, and thanks to plenty of feedback it is a fun bike to ride fast.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I quite liked the Most saddle for its comfort levels.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The bar and stem are very stiff, which does add to the overall firmness of the ride.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

It needs a wheel upgrade to get the most out of the bike.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The Ultegra groupset performs brilliantly and suits the capabilities of the Pinarello's frameset.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

They are decent enough quality wheels, but for this money you should be getting something from much higher up the range.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

Decent quality tyres for training and general riding, but something lighter and grippier lets you exploit the Pinarello's handling.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

It's a shame to not get the carbon fibre handlebar or stem that the rim-braked version of the FX came with, because the bar at least took the edge off the stiff ride.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Not at full price.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It is more expensive than pretty much all of the like-for-like bikes we've tested over the last few years, from the likes of Bianchi, Specialized and BMC to name a few.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
4/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

At its heart the Prince FX Disc has a fantastic frameset which, if you like a fast and firm ride, you will absolutely adore. Against the opposition, though, the price is pretty hard to swallow.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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