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Mark Rowling, owner of Turramurra Cyclery in Sydney, Australia, has had bikes in his life since the very beginning. His store has been in the family since 1982, and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. Today, that family store is one of a few successful truly independent bike retailers in Sydney, and Rowling manages to sell everything from kids’ bikes to top-tier race machines.
Rowling’s children are now following a similar path of passion, and as is the case with many industry members founding a new generation, it also provides an opportunity to geek out a little on the tech, and perhaps get a little silly with things, too.
As a key Australian Pinarello dealer, Rowling is often seen riding the latest from the Italian brand. So when his son, Hudson, was finally ready for his first 700c road bike, there was little question over what to pick: a Pinarello Dogma F10, just like dad’s.
The Pinarello Dogma F10 is a bike that needs little introduction, being the official road bike of Team Sky since January 2017. The F10 took the brand’s successful F8, and added elements of its Bolide time trial bike, such as the front “ForkFlaps” and concave down tube that shields the bidon to further trick the wind. Additionally, it’s supposedly a little lighter and a little stiffer than its predecessor.
Additionally, the F10 was one of the first road frames to neatly integrate the Shimano Di2 junction port into the down tube (the current Trek Madone being the first).
It would be natural to view such a prestigious bike being ridden by a 10-year-old as wholly over-the-top, but Rowling says there’s an element of purpose here. According to him, few brands in the industry offer such a wide size range as Pinarello, with the Dogma F10 available in 13 frame sizes ranging from 42cm to 62cm. For someone Hudson’s size (31kg/68lb and approximately 1.30m/4ft 3in), the 42cm frame is just the pick, and with room to grow.
“Most kids when they ride, they look horrendous; they are all on bikes that are too long for them,” Rowling said. “The end result is if you can get the setup right, they can put out power. And if you don’t get the setup right, not only can’t they put out power, it’s just unsafe.”
Frames that small usually are built around 650c (or 650b) wheels, but quite impressively, Pinarello manages to squeeze standard 700c wheels into a frame with a reach dimension of just 351mm. And while Pinarello offer models below its Dogma F10 in similar sizing, nothing is quite as compact as the 42cm seen here.
Shimano Di2 since six years old
The build on this black-on-black F10 frameset isn’t quite exotic, but it’s certainly high-end and fitting of a frame like the F10, and includes a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9050 groupset, 165mm-long Rotor cranks, and an SRM power meter spider. To fulfill the gearing requirements for Australian racing, Hudson’s bike is equipped with a single 36T chainring up front, with a junior-specific Shimano Ultegra 14-28T cassette out back.
The Di2 front derailleur is present as usual, but merely acts as a chainguide in this case. Rowling has got it tuned in a way that the front self-trim function is active to prevent rub, but it can’t actually shift. Instead, all of the shift buttons are programmed to control the rear gearing only, and in a way not too dissimilar to SRAM’s eTap groupset.
Young Hudson is no stranger to Di2 shifting; in fact, it’s all he’s ever known. His first geared bike at the age of six had Di2. Rowling continues to be a keen proponent of electronic shifting for young ones, stating they benefit from the easier shifting more than anyone.
The rolling stock is far more modest. Here, enthusiast-level Bontrager Paradigm Elite TLR wheels are wrapped in tube-type 25c Bontrager R3 rubber. “We had deep tubular carbon wheels on the bike,” Rowling joked, “but he’s not allowed to race those. They have to be aluminium rims with clincher tyres”. If there’s one place to further drop the weight of this sub-6kg machine, it’s here, although titanium-axled skewers from Lightweight already help with the weight reduction.
Touch Points and Fit
Touch points are critical to any rider, but for Hudson it’s what allows him to fit the bike at all. Here, a stubby 50mm aluminium PRO stem holds 36cm-wide Bontrager handlebars in a compact shape. As Hudson grows, so will the stem length.
Rowling notes that the most important thing for any kid’s bike is ensuring it fits.
“His first road bike had flat handlebars. Moving to drops is a pain at a young age, and it’s a dumb-arse thing to do, as at that age they can’t grab the brakes really well. I wouldn’t take my seven-year-old daughter on the road with drops, as if she needs to do an emergency brake, it probably won’t happen.
“It wasn’t until Hudson was nine that it was safe to have him on drops. The end result is you want to limit them to about 40km/h and that’s what the gearing is designed to do. Doing over 50km/h is dangerous, especially given most kids’ bikes aren’t all that stable.”
The saddle is a discontinued Fizik Ares time trial model, which offers a relatively normal saddle shape, but in a stubby 235mm length.
Not that rare for competitive children, Hudson rides with clipless pedals – in this case, a well-used pair of Time Xpresso 15s, claimed to weigh just 142g for the set.
“All the kids (in our club) with Time pedals find them much easier to get in and out,” Rowling said. “Even my daughter, when she was six, she couldn’t remotely clip into a Look, but she could easily get in and out of Time pedals.”
A monster (on the bike) in the making
A fancy bike is one thing, but it’s a waste if it doesn’t get ridden. And it’s here that young Hudson earns his adult-sized wheels.
The SRM power meter and accompanying PC8 computer may be overkill, but they’re not wasted. Rowling jokes that his 10-year-old not only understands power better than most seasoned racers, but also puts out power figures that would put many adults to shame.
“Hudson rides Zwift multiple times a week, and knows his numbers. An hour effort sees him hold an average of 3.5 watts-per-kilo, with a 20-minute effort at 3.7 W/kg.”
When asked whether all the time on Zwift has Hudson at danger of not learning bike handling skills, Rowling says it’s a true concern for him, and he makes sure to get Hudson out on quiet and safe roads wherever possible, including the occasional club bunch ride. Hudson also attends club track racing across town during the week.
Have you bought or built up a kid’s road bike? Have you got any tips or tricks to help your child get the most out of their cycling? Let us know in the comments below.