I am too purist and into my ti and steel to do so (and broke as a matter of fact) but here is an interesting article in the ‘tory’graph about what it can do for you …
In 1963 German sports car maker Porsche introduced a radical new car that would famously become a firm favourite of racing car drivers on their days off. In the hands of a skilled driver the rear-engined, turbocharged 911 was a snarling, all conquering testament to raw power and German engineering.
However, in the hands of a normal punter, the Porsche morphed into something all together more sinister. Its brutal power, delivered in staccato by the revolutionary air-cooled engine, and race car handling had a habit of tempting drivers into pushing the limits of their ability. By the end of the 1970s, the 911 had earned the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Not that Porsche flinched from selling it – instead, the car’s reputation for danger only added to its appeal among those with enough money to buy the iconic car.
A Porsche 911 GT3
Which brings me to the Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle, the official bike of Chris Froome’s Team Sky, designed in conjunction with British sports car maker Jaguar. The bicycle, equipped with the latest electronic Shimano Di2 gear system and lightweight wheels, sets you back as much as £12,000 – which is almost enough to buy a second-hand widow maker.
Like the Porsche, the F8 boasts a design that doesn’t conform to conventional theory. I took the version I have been riding to The Bicycle Academy in Frome for their frame building experts to take a look. Their verdict on the bike’s aesthetic was mixed. Pinarello has pioneered a concept of distinctive asymmetric design on the Dogma range. Couple this with some of the touches provided by Jaguar to improve the overall aerodynamic performance of the bike and you have a very radical looking machine. It’s certainly not one for the purists.
Just like the early buyers of the Porsche 911, people interested in the F8 who aren’t racing seriously or being paid to ride a bike must ask themselves whether they actually need such a two-wheeled beast. That being said, high-end design and hi-tech specifications can always be guaranteed to pique the interest of even the most amateur of club cyclists. To test the bike out, I decided to take it on my usual short 17-mile circuit around Box Hill in Surrey. From the first pedal stroke, I was genuinely surprised by its performance.
Andrew Critchlow’s Strava display after riding a 17 mile circuit around Box Hill
The bladed forks and reduced profile of the head tube (the focus of much of Jaguar’s design energy) deliver a stunningly fast bike – reducing drag by a claimed 40pc. Power transfer through the pedals is also incredible, as are the electronic shifters, which make for breathtakingly quick gear changes.
Quite simply, the F8 makes you want to ride faster. During my test, the bike immediately had me riding in the big chain ring, at least three gears higher than I would normally spin. I was able to hold the big ring even on the slopes of Box Hill. However, it was on the decent that the F8 showed its true colours. This bike makes you try things that you really shouldn’t on a bicycle. It’s constantly compelling you to ride faster, brake later into the corners, push the boundaries of your cycling ability and even beat the lights. On the descent from Box Hill I almost lost it. Could this be the bicycle equivalent of The Widow Maker?
Not quite. The F8 is assured and – unlike some carbon-fibre bikes I have ridden such as the Giant TCR Advanced SL – its handling is predictable. As a result, you can comfortably ride the bike faster than you would normally think possible. The proof in the pudding comes when I download my ride data at the end of the circuit. Clipped in to the F8, I have knocked 7 minutes off my time and achieved 63 personal records on Strava.
The downside of the F8 for a normal rider like me who isn’t followed around Europe with a Team Sky bus is maintenance. This bike needs looking after properly by expert bicycle mechanics, so forget about tampering in the kitchen with a set of hexagon keys. Also be careful about frame size. I am six-foot and the bike I tested was a 58cm – my usual frame size – but this was on the large size for my taste.
I have always aspired to owning a 911 because of its potent mix of race car engineering and Niki Lauda cool. My final verdict on the Pinarello is the same. I want one, pure and simple.