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by Dave Everett
December 13, 2017
Photography by David Everett
TECH NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY BIKEEXCHANGE
It’s the e-bike that caused a social media storm on its release day only a few weeks back, for all the wrong reasons. The Pinarello Nytro is the Italian company’s first foray into the e-bike road market and one of only a handful on the market right now (the other major player being Orbea).
With the dust settled on the controversy, we sent reporter David Everett to Treviso, Italy to see what the Nytro’s all about, how it rides and who it’s actually aimed at. Be sure to check out Dave’s video above.
It’s a cold December morning among the vineyards north of Treviso. I’ve been handed a Pinarello Nytro and sent into the hills to see how Pinarello’s first road e-bike performs. Unlike at regular bike launches and invite events I’ve got no staff member from Pinarello with me for the day. Instead they’ve given me free reign — I’ve been left to explore the area and the bike’s capabilities on my own.
Obviously, first impressions count, and especially so with an e-bike. At the moment there’s some amount of prejudice directed at those who own e-bikes — sure, some may not care, but others don’t see them as ‘proper’ bikes. So having an e-bike that looks more or less like a regular road bike will count for something. And, considering what Pinarello have had to cram into the bike, they’ve done a good job.
It’s a not a bad-looking bike if you like the Pinarello stylings (which many clearly do). The Nytro looks clean, with only the oversized downtube giving away the fact that it’s not a regular road bike. To the untrained eye, it’s nothing too abnormal. Up close it’s more obvious, but still surprisingly sleek.
The Nytro is Pinarello’s first foray into the e-bike road market.
Housed in the oversized downtube is the motor, made by German firm Fazua. It’s basically a detachable battery and motor unit that clips into the downtube. This, in turn, connects to a gearing system that is bolted into place inside the bottom bracket. This is the biggest giveaway that the Nytro is in fact an e-bike. The bottom bracket area is a little chunky-looking, and a little ugly too. That said, it’s not nearly as inelegant as the bigger Shimano Steps or Bosch bolt-in systems.
The whole Fazua drive system weighs just 4.7kg including the battery. The technology isn’t owned or exclusive to Pinarello — the Focus Raven mountain bike, the Cube Agree Hybrid C:62, the recent Maserati road bike and the Bianchi Edoardo all use this system.
A small control system sits on the handlebars, no bigger than a standard bike computer. This system has three buttons: the on/off button in the centre with primary control switches above and below it. Sat next to the three buttons is a series of LED lights, which show remaining battery life and change colour depending on what mode you are in.
There are four modes in total, each offering a different amount of assistance:
– 0 Watts: The “I don’t need any help at the moment” mode.
– 125W: “Breeze” mode, which is supposed to feel as if you have a tailwind. In reality, it feels more like it counterbalances the bike’s hefty 13kg, especially when climbing.
– 250W: “River” mode. This offers some serious assistance, helping you tackle bigger, steeper climbs.
– 400W: “Rocket” mode. With this sort of assistance, you can feel like a Greek god or maybe a Thracian gladiator.
Installing and detaching the battery and motor unit is an easy and quick process. A single click of the button on the downtube releases the unit enough so you can attach a cable to charge the battery, without removing the unit entirely. A longer hold releases the unit all together. All cables are internally routed.
Servicing the Fazua system should, in theory, be easy and convenient. Pinarello claims that if something does go wrong, you can firstly diagnose the problem via your home computer. If a firmware update doesn’t mend the system then you’ll be instructed to take the bike to a dealer who will take a more in-depth look at it. If this doesn’t work, Fazua has a 48-hour turnaround for returned batteries or parts that have been serviced.
The bike can also be ridden without a motor. Pinarello will soon be making a cover for the vacated downtube.
The downtube is vast, but considering the tech available at the moment Pinarello has done a good job of making it look quite slick.
A close look at the bottom bracket area.
The locking mechanism for the module can be found where the toptube meets the headtube.
A series of fins helps to cool the motor.
The Nytro’s definitely not a motorbike and doesn’t claim to be. There’s no sit-on-and-go mode. Instead, it’s more of a top-up or a boost to your output. You have to put something in to get something back. Stop pedalling, and the motor cuts out. It’s noticeable, especially when you’re going uphill — 13kg doesn’t roll far on an incline.
E-road bikes are something of their own beast and I feel it’d be unfair to compare them to full-blown race machines. The Nytro isn’t a racing steed, no matter what assist mode you are in. Once you reach its top assisted speed of 25 km/h the motor cuts out, with minimal drop-off noticeable. Due to the speed you’re already carrying, you either roll along or flit between assist and no-assist to keep your speed. It’s all quite natural-feeling.
The front end and bottom bracket area are stiff, perhaps overly so in some conditions. There’s no swoopy flow to the bike when standing and attempting to sprint on the flat, due to the stiffness and the 4.7kg attached to the downtube. But I don’t think this is a bike aimed at those who are going to be putting in big sprint efforts. I feel it’s going to be most appreciated while climbing or bashing out long miles on the flat.
Climbing is where the Nytro excels. In fact, it’s a blast when the motor is engaged. The first assistance mode of 125W basically counteracts the bike’s 13kg when climbing, making the Nytro climb as if it was a lighter bike. Switch to the 250W mode and there’s a noticeable oomph to your climbing, as if you’ve had a Belgie hand-sling or a kind tailwind. Turn the pedals over on this setting and you whizz along easily, but you still have to work to keep it at speed.
Go for the full-blown 400W “Rocket” mode and the bike comes to life beneath you, making climbs easy, even when the road ramps up significantly.
There is very little lag when switching between modes — the inbuilt speed and cadence sensors help the motor to create a smooth transition.
When pedalling on the flat in Rocket mode you soon hit the magical 25 km/h, and it’s easy to stay there. The two lower settings help you cruise along, but still require you to put varying degrees of effort in. And as for battery life? Pinarello claims you’ll get 1,400m of climbing out of a single charge.
Red mode, or ‘Rocket’ as Pinarello brands it.
One problem I did encounter was that, on a few occasions, the bottom bracket area felt a bit clunky when engaging — something like the feeling of having a sticky cassette. Pinarello is looking into the unit I used.
The Nytro is very much an all-day comfort endurance machine. The slightly longer wheelbase, 10% more than the F10, helps the weight sit on the road well. The headtube, also 10% taller than an F10, gives it more of a comfort feel. The rear end is comfortable and reminded me of a Pinarello Prince that I rode a few years back — you get plenty of road feedback, but it’s not as if you feel every bump on the road.
Pinarello’s fork mixed with the carbon bar do a good job of eliminating any buzz up front. Pinarello has spec’d the Nytro with in-house branded Most bars, stem, saddle (a rebranded Selle Italia) and seat post. All are serviceable, and I actually liked the bar, for the most part. The flat top gives a nice place to rest the hands but I wasn’t sold on the relatively deep drop and the long swoop back of the drops.
Wheels are Fulcrum Racing 5 DBs, a budget disc option that, if swapped, would help reduce some of the bike’s 13kg heft. The rest of the kit comes from SRAM in the form of their solid Force groupset.
The disc brakes are a major factor in the performance of the Nytro. All that extra weight needs excellent stopping power, and the Force disc callipers (combined with 160mm rotors) help it feel quite poised and natural on descents. I was surprised — I’d expected it to be difficult to lift out of sharp corners.
The only thing that lets the performance down a bit in the cornering stakes is the Vittoria Zaffirio tyres it comes spec’d with. They’re not the most supple tyres, but the 28mm width is still better than the narrower versions I’ve used in the past. This is something I’d quickly update. (The bike accommodates tyres no wider than 28mm.)
Pinarello offers only the single build option at the moment, retailing at €6,250 and in the red and black colour I rode. It comes in five sizes, starting at 46.5cm and topping out at 58cm (centre to centre). Availability is currently limited to mainland Europe and the UK. We wait for news on the U.S. and Australian markets.
Internally routed cables, including the wire for the motor control.
The downtube houses the battery and motor.
The button at the top of the downtube releases the battery and motor module.
Pinarello have kept with their S-shaped forks for the Nytro.
The usual Pinarello lines are present throughout the bike.
The rear end of the bike felt similar to the last Pinarello Price that I rode three years ago.
The bike comes equipped with 28mm Vittoria Zaffiro tyres — not the most supple on the market but still a relatively good budget tyre.
SRAM Force is equipped throughout. Performance was faultless on the day, and I enjoyed the feel of the hoods.
The bike comes equipped with SRAM Force callipers — 12mm thru axles and 160mm rotors, front and rear.
A clean-looking rear end, with skewers from Fulcrum, branded as Pinarello.
Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc-specific wheels do a decent job, but would be an easy change if you wanted to reduce the 13kg weight.
So who’s the Pinarello Nytro for? Quite simply, it’s for those that want to ride but need a little extra something. This includes everyone from newbies wanting to get out with faster people to learn group etiquette, to people wanting to see places that are further away from what they’d usually get to, and even those returning from injury. It’s the sort of technology that can open up road cycling to a variety of new and old riders. It’s also for those that have been in the sport for a long, long time. Let me explain.
Growing up around my dad’s bike shop I have friends of all ages. And not unlike any cycling group, Sunday rides from the shop have always featured riders of different abilities. Twenty-five years on from when I first started heading out with this group, it’s fair to say there are now guys in the group who aren’t as young as they used to be. They’re not as spritely as they used to be, but they still want to get out with everyone on the Sunday club run.
Over the past few years, they’ve regularly decided to cut the ride short, skipping the cafe and turning back early. They don’t want to hold the group up — they don’t want the faster, fitter guys waiting at the top of the hills too often. They feel like they’re holding the group back (even though we’re happy to wait).
I miss the long rides to a far-off cafe, the banter, the drying of the wet jackets by the cafe’s fire while we eat and drink coffee as a group. I miss everyone rolling round in a big group, keeping each other’s morale up through those cold winter rides. A bike like the Nytro would allow the group to do those ‘big rides’ together again, without the older guys feeling guilty for holding up the group.
But it’s not just for the older guys — road e-bikes like the Nytro allow any rider to go out with fitter people, to get through a ride that mightn’t have otherwise, or to get back feeling better than they might have.
The more I think and write about the road e-bike market the more it makes me think it’s a great idea. I’ll admit I was biased before — I was in the camp of “Pahh, e-bikes! They’re not proper bikes — they’re just mild motorbikes!” But after riding the Nytro, I’ve changed my mind. It’s a bike to help people get out and enjoy that feeling of riding further and faster than they may have been able to before.
At over €6,000 it’s not exactly cheap — you can get some seriously flash bikes for that money — but for those it’s aimed at, and for the doors it opens up, it could certainly be money well spent.
The Nytro handles surprisingly well for a 13kg beast. It has its drawbacks, for sure — you’re not going to have fun sprinting on it — but the fun you’ll have feeling like a mountain goat while climbing makes up for it. It’s not a snappy race bike on the descents, but it’s far from being a slug. At the end of the day, it’s a fun bike to ride.
For a first attempt, you have to doff your cap to Pinarello. It’ll be interesting to see where things go in this emerging market.