Review: A year with the Pinarello Dogma F
The new Dogma F is a frame of two halves with plenty of surprises, but is it an F for fab or F for flop?
The new Dogma F is a frame of two halves with plenty of surprises, but is it an F for fab or F for flop?
It’s been twelve years since Pinarello partnered up with Team Sky, a program with the lofty ambition of putting a British rider on the top step of the Tour de France podium. Fast forward twelve years and a lot has changed. Team Sky is now the Ineos Grenadiers, and not only did the team achieve that goal of putting a British rider on the top step of the Tour podium, but did so with three different British riders. Along the way, the team amassed a total of 11 grand tour wins so far, with seven at the Tour.
One constant across those twelve years has been Pinarello and its Dogma frame moniker. First with the Dogma 60.1, then the Dogma 2 and 65.1, the team raced Tour glory in 2012 and onto the Dogma F8 in 2014. That F8 was the first Dogma in the new F series of aerodynamic do-it-all bikes from the Italian brand, with the F10 and F12 following later. The curvy frames may have split opinions ever since, but thanks in no small part to messieurs Froome, Thomas, and Bernal, amongst others, few could argue with the Dogma’s racing pedigree.
The Dogma F is the latest bike in that Dogma F series, and we spent the past fourteen months sampling Pinarello’s latest race-rig recipe. As expected, we found a fast and flashy bike, with an expensive and asymmetrical frame. What we weren’t expecting was an asymmetrical soul, in more ways than one.
Pinarello launched the Dogma F in June 2021, just days before the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Brittany. The Italian brand has never indulged in dedicated climbing or aero bikes, and so in keeping with that philosophy, Pinarello has stayed true to the one-bike-for-every-ride approach with the new Dogma F.
Pinarello has stuck with its recipe for Grand Tour-winning frame design, with a handful of curvy and truncated tubes, mixed with a target 850-gram frame weight for size 53, and an asymmetrical build concept.
At first glance, one could be forgiven for assuming the new F is the old F12 with a fresh lick of paint. Pinarello may have retained the Dogma’s unique identity and signature look, but a new frame it is, with Pinarello focusing on making the new Dogma lighter and faster.
First, the Dogma has dropped a claimed 265 grams compared to its F12 counterpart by reducing the thickness of the top tube, seat post and seat tube and reducing the weight of both the integrated handlebars and the saddle clamp. As for aero tweaks to the new Domga F, Pinarello points to the new narrower seat tube, seat post, and top tube as one of the key aerodynamic updates on the new model, with the narrower seat post said to create 30% less drag than the seat post on the F12. Pinarello hasn’t provided an exact figure for seat post drag or how this was measured.
Pinarello has seemingly put the lower half of the frame on Popeye-sized portions of spinach as both the lower half of the new downtube and bottom bracket areas have grown chunkier and taller for improved stiffness and aerodynamics. The taller bottom bracket now flows into a new seat tube slightly deeper than the outgoing model all the way up to the new seat stays.
It’s those seat stays that offer the most notable design update. The previous F models all featured seat stays that met above the rear wheel before flowing as one asymmetric entity into the rear of the seat tube. Pinarello has opted for a vastly different approach on the new Dogma F, keeping those stays almost entirely separate before independently joining the seat tube on opposite sides of the frame. The new design not only drops the stays lower down the seat tube but also creates a wing-like design that at least looks very aerodynamic to the naked eye. The stays themselves enjoy a subtle update and now feature even curvier curves and a new aero profiling.
While the new MOST Talon integrated handlebar and stem do enjoy an upgrade in carbon layup, the frame, fork, and seat post are still manufactured using the same Torayca T1100 1K weave from Japanese carbon specialists Toray.
Pinarello has stuck with its tried and tested Dogma geometry with barely a change since before the introduction of the F series in 2014. The company provides more options than most, with a vast 11 frame sizes, 16 integrated bar/stem combinations, and two seat post setback options to choose from.
One could be forgiven for assuming a Pinarello Dogma will have the raciest of long and low geometries. But in fact, of all the race-focused bikes I’ve thrown a leg over recently, like for like, the Dogma has the shortest and tallest front end. So much so, that while I usually ride a 56cm frame, the 55 Dogma F Pinarello shipped over actually worked fine for me, something I couldn’t say for the next size down with many frames. This was, of course, helped by Pinarello’s increased frame size count, which results in smaller jumps between sizes. The Dogma is still a dedicated race bike, though, and as such, don’t expect a relaxed, endurance-style position either.
Both the head and seat tube angles on the Pinarello are slightly slacker than the fleet of race bikes I’ve tested of late, a fact further accentuated by sizing down with the test bike. Nevertheless, comparing like-for-like sizes again, the head tube and seat tube on the Dogma are 0.3° and 0.5° slacker than my own Tarmac SL6. There are, of course, pros and cons to every geometry decision, and the slacker head angle on the Dogma certainly helps desensitise the steering ever so slightly for a supremely stable bike when ridden at speed.
Also contributing to that arrow-like stability at speed are the Dogma’s trail and bottom bracket drop configurations. We calculated the trail (with an online calculator) at 61 mm for the size 55 Dogma F on test with a 72.8° head angle, 43 mm fork rake, and 28 mm tyres. Combined with the Dogma’s 72 mm bottom bracket drop (higher measurement = lower bottom bracket), it’s hardly surprisingly this bike likes going fast and in straight lines. More on ride feel later.
Prospective Dogma buyers should be aware that Pinarello measures bar width sizes outside to outside, so the 420 mm bars on our test bike actually measure 400 mm centre to centre at the drops. Furthermore, a 4° flare on the drops means that measurement shrinks by another centimetre at the hoods to 370 mm.
The bar itself is also on the conservative side, with a pretty average 125 mm of drop paired with 80 mm of reach. While a perfectly acceptable and desirable bar geometry, it is less aggressive than one might desire for a dedicated race-winning machine.
Lastly, Pinarello officially offers both zero setback and 20 mm setback variants of its new thinner Dogma F seat post. That said, the 20 mm setback post seems to be the stock option with most Dogma Fs, which, combined with that slight slacker seat tube, means riders preferring a more forward saddle position could do well to consider ordering the zero offset post.
The Dogma F is available in six different colourways and Pinarello also offers a semi-custom colourway creator through its “MyWay” program. While colour options are varied, Pinarello has been a bit more selective when it comes to build options with the ‘F. There are just three stock build options, one for each of the top-of-the-range groupsets from the big three groupset manufacturers. No Force or Ultegra here, it’s Super Record EPS, Dura-Ace Di2, and Red Etap AXS all the way.
The Dogma we had on review is the Plutonium Flash, otherwise known as silver and black, with SRAM Red Etap AXS, the DT Swiss ARC 1400 wheelset, Pirelli’s P-Zero tyres, and of course, a finishing kit including that integrated bar stem, single bottle cage, Lynx Ultra Fast carbon-railed, short nose saddle, and bar tape all from Pinarello’s in-house components brand Most. All in this build weighs in at 7.4 kilograms for the size 55 on test with 120/42 handlebar and Favero Assioma Duo pedals. The build (minus those pedals) will set you back US$14,500 / £12,200.
The Dogma F is also available as a frameset only, with both disc and rim brake options, for those with a different build in mind. A full frameset including seat post and integrated handlebar is priced at £5,400 / $6,950.
The Dogma F came equipped with a 33/46 chainring combination, a spec decision that really jarred with me on what is supposed to be an out-and-out performance-focused bike. It is unclear whether the decision to opt for a cyclocross chainring combo on a road racing thoroughbred was an availability issue, a response to market demands (this is most likely, as lower gear options can work well for many amateurs), or perhaps even a Pinarello decision to save a few grams. Regardless, a year later, I still nod my head in disbelief.
Lastly, on the drivetrain, the lack of any power meter is another glaring omission on such a premium-priced bike. At this cost, one really should expect to have a power meter included as standard.
I found the Most Lynx Ultra Fast short-nosed saddle supremely comfortable in its own right and have even switched it across to other test bikes. Its combination of short, flat nose, 145 mm width and carbon rails, which helped keep the weight at just 176 grams, make it a great performance bike option. That said, I didn’t find it the best saddle for the Dogma F, for reasons I will come to later.
Bar tape wouldn’t usually get a mention in a review, but the Most tape has stood the test of time, through summer and winter and back to summer, and yet would give a cast iron skillet a run for its money in hiding age. It also feels grippy without being tacky, which is my preferred style of bar tape.
Moving onto the wheels and starting with the really important stuff, the DT Swiss ARC 50 (actually 52 mm deep) 1400 wheelset matches the
Silver Plutonium Flash colourway perfectly. Yes, they are also aerodynamic, disc brake specific, with a hooked, tubeless compatible rim profile optimised for wider tyres, even if the 20mm internal rim has been eclipsed by recent releases. They are a solid all-around wheelset. And again, they look good in Dogma F, and that’s worth double-digit watt gains.
Aesthetics aside, the DT Swiss wheelset never missed a beat throughout the long-term review on the Dogma F. Alternating between clincher and tubeless setups, the ARC 50 wheelset felt fast, stiff, and stable in blustery conditions. That stability was an added bonus I only truly appreciated when swapping the ARC 50s across to other bikes, as the Dogma itself is somewhat susceptible to a random side gust. The wheels are as true as the day they arrived, despite never so much as checking the spoke tension.
In fact, the extremely loud freehub was the only slight quibble I found with the wheelset. I had riders ask me, “are your wheels ok” on an almost daily basis, but hey, some people like loud freehubs.
One issue I did have with the wheels Pinarello has chosen here actually has nothing to do with DT Swiss or the ARC 1400s. As mentioned, the ARC 1400s have performed perfectly admirably over the past fourteen months, but nevertheless, they are DT Swiss’ second-tier ARC wheelset. Technically, the ARC 50 1100 is DT Swiss’ top-of-the-line wheelset in the new ARC Dicut range. The main differences are the use of DT’s previous-generation DT Aero Comp spokes and an upgrade from DT’s superb 240 hubs with steel bearings to the 180s with ceramic bearings. Whether the upgrades are worth the extra dough or not is not the point here; rather, given the price of the Dogma F, spending that much money, I might expect every aspect of the bike to be the absolute premium offering.
Sticking with what I expect when spending over 12 thousand pounds, the Talon integrated handlebar requires a specific head unit mount, which is not only not included in the price of the bike, but also costs an additional 70 pounds. Not cool.
A bike is not just a sum of its parts or even a reflection of its RRP, though, so how is the new Pinarello Dogma F on the open road? The answer in one sentence would be something involving, stiff, fast, and a frame of two halves with plenty of surprises.
After the initial positively surprising weight check, within the first few pedal strokes, the new Dogma already clearly communicates its stiffness and responsiveness credentials. Chopping on the pedals rolling out of the drive, the reaction to each downward input of power is a jolt-like burst of forwarding momentum as if I was flung like a frisbee.
Out on the open road, the front end instantly identifies itself as similarly stiff. The Most Talon integrated bar stem offers zero discernible flex, while the front end didn’t so much as blink at whatever measly sprint power and upper body strength I could deliver. Combined, the bar and front-end stiffness provide instant response to any input through the hoods or drops.
The combination of this bottom bracket and front-end stiffness had me feeling like Richard Carapaz climbing out of the saddle. Aim the bike at any incline with a tailwind and the impressive initial acceleration is only matched by the Dogma’s unrelenting eagerness to sprint uphill.
All that stiffness does come at a cost, though. Riding the new Dogma, you don’t so much feel every bump on the road as suffer every imperfection and ripple. Granted, my local roads are far from the dreamy surface of a freshly tarmacked Tour climb, but the Dogma seemed intent on reminding me of that on every ride.
Despite dropping tyre pressures right down into the fifties (PSI), all that stiffness still made for a chattery ride feel on anything but the smoothest surfaces. That chattery ride and supreme stiffness weren’t helped by the deep aerodynamic profile of the Talon handlebar tops. I never could find a comfortable hand position on the tops, and riding the Dogma F across the cobbles of Belgium and Northern France, my hands felt like they were on fire by the end of each sector. My experience with the Talon on the cobbles both makes Dylan Van Baarle’s Roubaix win even more impressive and, combined with the shorter drop and reach on the bars, might also explain why he spent so much time in the drops as opposed to the traditional “on the tops” cobble-conquering position.
My soft hands aside, and mindful of the fact the majority of Dogma outings will feature exactly zero Belgian pavé, that stiffness obviously has some benefits. As mentioned earlier, this bike rewards out-of-the-saddle efforts. Climbing even the steepest of gradients, the outright refusal of the Dogma’s front end and lower half to flex regardless of the power input provides a sensation that the bars and frame are delivering every ounce of energy to the wheels unrivalled by most bikes.
Out of the saddle on climbs, the Dogma F had me feeling like a World Tour pro on the attack. While sprinting full gas the Dogma felt lightning quick and arrow straight. Combined with the stable and low bottom bracket, that front-end stiffness means the Dogma delivers incredibly precise and responsive handling at speed. Even sprinting with all my might, the Dogma’s pinpoint precision in a straight line meant I was able to pick out smoother lines on the surface as if time had slowed down, and I suddenly had Mark Cavendish’s sprinting mental capacity, even if the watts were still way off.
It’s not all stiffness and precision, though. Contrasting the Dogma’s front end and lower half stiffness is a considerable degree of lateral flex in the rear upper half of the frame. The new thinner seat and top tube profiles may be, as Pinarello claims, lighter and more aero, but, as I found out, also deliver significantly more flex. This flex is most evident during seated efforts, or any indoor riding, which causes the seat tube, seat post, and saddle to swing like an inverted grandfather clock pendulum, laterally flexing all the way up from the new seat stay junction.
Given all the stiffness mentioned earlier, you could be thinking a bit of seat tube and post flex could be a good thing. Unfortunately, being laterally compliant and vertically stiff, I found the Dogma seat tube to be the inverse of that popular bike industry catchphrase. Vertical stiffness is one thing. We expect fast, aero, racing bikes won’t offer the smoothest ride. But lateral flex north of the seat stays isn’t something we come across too often.
Out on the road, this flex manifests itself, as mentioned earlier, during high-power seated efforts, but also through almost any medium to high-speed corner. Throw the Dogma into any such corner, and the Dogma’s great initial turn-in precision gets lost somewhere mid-bend, sometimes with rather frightful consequences. Rather than rail a high-speed corner, as every sensation suggests it’s about to, the Dogma often has other ideas, and springs them on you without warning.
Ride a corner with any weight on the saddle, and this flex in the seat post seems to cause a shift in body weight, veering the bike mid-corner as if I have suddenly corrected lines to avoid an obstacle on the road. Properly attacking a descent and lifting some or all of my weight off the saddle certainly improves the rear end’s ability to follow the front, seemingly confirming my seat tube suspicions.
CyclingTips global tech editor, James Huang, had a Dogma F in for a few rides and noticed a similar sensation, explaining he felt, “the Dogma is stiff under power and stiff upfront for precise handling. The steering precision is good, but the back end doesn’t follow in as it should.”
Medium and high-speed corners aside, the Dogma also kept me on my toes elsewhere. Pinarello claims the new Onda fork is not only aerodynamic but actually utilises the wind at certain yaw angles to create a sail effect, almost propelling the bike forward. While I can neither confirm nor deny the aerodynamic lift, riding four bikes back to back on the same course in the same conditions, the Dogma strikes me as much more susceptible to crosswinds. Furthermore, the Dogma’s sublime high-speed stability (in stable wind conditions) is contrasted by a wandering front end at lower speeds. It’s a sensation I remember from my F8 days, and for many, will be an acceptable trade-off for high-speed stability. Unsurprisingly, the Dogma prefers going fast.
Lastly, on the new Dogma’s ride feel, as mentioned earlier, Pinarello touts its Think Asymmetric build construction philosophy, pointing to the design’s asymmetrical solution to the asymmetrical drive forces exerted on a bicycle. Throughout the review, I felt the asymmetry actually extends to the bottom bracket and crank position relative to the centre of the bike, and by extension, relative to the centre of, well, me. My cleats, feet, and stance just never seemed the same as they did on other bikes. My left stance felt too wide, while my right side felt too narrow. Adjusting the cleat position to compensate both created hotspots on my feet from the new cleat position and the opposite sensation when I jumped back onto other bikes.
Not sure if I was losing my marbles or if the Pinarello asymmetry was playing tricks on my mind, I eventually had to measure the pedals relative to the centre of the frame. Lo and behold, the cranks and pedals are offset by approximately half a centimetre to the non-drive side of the frame. My sensations confirmed, I set about trying to correct the issue. Was a misplaced spacer or some other issue throwing the cranks out of whack? Seemingly not. Despite double and triple-checking everything and playing about with spacers that had no place in a SRAM DUB bottom bracket, nothing could correct for the offset.
I’m very sensitive to fit, so whether or not most riders would ever notice the offset, I am not sure, but it’s there, and it probably shouldn’t be.
On the subject of bottom brackets, the Italian bottom bracket in the Dogma is, let’s say, in keeping with tradition, which should be admired in a world of sometimes pointless, sometimes silly, marginal gains. And, hey, at least it’s threaded.
Pinarello officially states the Dogma F is suitable for tyres up to 28mm, in reality, I have spent many a kilometre with 32 mm Continental GP 5000 S TRs measuring 33 mm wide at 50 PSI on Hunt’s Limitless 48 Aero wheels without issue.
Speaking of component changes, strapping a 54 tooth chainring to the Dogma gave it a new lease of life, another mark against that cyclocross chainring combination. The one other component I changed on the Dogma over the course of the 14-month review was the saddle. Again, I found the Most Lynx Ultra Fast to be an ultra good saddle, I happily mounted it on other bikes. But the sheer stiffness and road buzz from the Dogma had me switch to one of those fancy 3D-printed super comfy saddles. Extra cushioning is not something I usually look for in a saddle, but it was a welcome addition to the Dogma.
Pinarello has made some big claims with the new Dogma, and combined with its lofty price tag, World Tour beating squad, and dominant ancestry, the new bike exudes supremacy. As the saying goes, though, you need to live with someone to see their true side. Living with the Dogma has been a mixed bag.
The Dogma is light(ish), stiff, and climbs quicker than you can say “F for fast”. Furthermore, what the Dogma lacks in ride comforts, it more than makes up for with brash looks. The Dogma was the talk of almost every street and group ride it dawned over the past 14 months. Most people I spoke to instantly admired the Dogma, curvy tubes and all. And, I, for one, wasted countless hours admiring how fast it looks just sitting still.
Granted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as good-looking, as it may be, I found the paintwork brittle and fragile, especially at the top of that ultra-narrow seat tube which is already showing signs of flaking.
Then there’s the topic of setup and maintenance. Of course, a modern racing rig is unlikely to ever rival a classic steed when it comes to serviceability and adjustability. The Dogma, for instance, features internal cable routing. Insert your own opinion on hidden cables and hoses here, but as far as the Dogma goes, it’s not the worst or anywhere near the best routing I have seen. The easily removable split spacers and clean aesthetics are offset by the known rear-end pain that is hoses routed wholly internally through the handlebar. The wireless SRAM AXS eliminates a shifter wire, but the brake hoses still traverse through the headset bearing. That said, after a year of riding, including through an Irish winter, the Dogma headset shows no signs of deterioration yet. Yet.
The rearward-facing seat post clamp screws offer easy access, but Pinarello’s decision to retain the rear tyre-spray-collecting seat post clamp and opt for T20 Torx head screws is all kinds of disappointing. It’s eight years since the launch of the F8, and that rearward-facing clamp was a known issue on that almost decade-old bike. The exposed screws collect dirt, seize, and get rounded very easily. Granted, Pinarello has recognised that issue and switched to a forward-facing clamp on the new Grevil F, so here’s hoping the next Dogma update features something similar.
I say “the next Dogma,” but in dropping the numerical differentiator with the new Dogma F, where does Pinarello go from here? The brand has long touted it doesn’t believe in dedicated climbing and aero bikes, and Fausto Pinarello insists a 53 cm frame should weigh no less than 850 grams if it is to retain Pinarello’s handling and durability goals.
That said, the Dogma F12 faced fierce criticism over its weight, and while Pinarello has set about correcting that with the Dogma F, one could argue the weight savings found in the seat tube are the one major flaw with the new frame. Perhaps Fausto had a point.
The Dogma F is the first in the F series yet to win a grand tour, and its chances of correcting that before the almost inevitable bi-annual update from Pinarello seem limited.
Is the Dogma F the reason a Grenadier hasn’t won a Grand Tour in the past fourteen months? Probably not. Is the F the best Dogma ever? Also, probably not. Could the no-number Dogma be the last hurrah for the iconic moniker, possibly? With a new reign of dedicated aero bikes, presumably more aero and measurably lighter than the Dogma F seemingly on the way, one has to assume the Ineos Grenadiers tech heads are pressuring Pinarello to come up with something similar. Pinarello’s insistence on creating “a single bike to handle all conditions” might come under the spotlight if the Dogma is both heavier and less aero than its younger, lighter and faster rivals.
I want to leave you with a question I couldn’t quite answer. Sponsored World Tour riders aside, who is the new Dogma for? It seems too pricey for most competitive riders to stomach or risk as their dedicated race bike, despite being stiff enough to shake your fillings out and fast enough to have you looking like a puppy with its head out the car window. Even those who will race it will need to fork out a bit extra for a power meter and a bigger chainring or two.
Yet the Dogma F seems too harsh and aggressive for the non-competitive rider with a spare 12k and seeking a beautiful work of art with a versatile gearing and none of that power measuring non-sense, because who wants to go fast enough to look like a puppy losing its tooth fillings anyway?
In a rare flash of Pinarello symmetry, it seems to me the Dogma F is probably not the right bike for either rider.