If you haven’t heard, Pinarello has just announced the Dogma X and X-series range, which is essentially 95% of the performance of Dogma F in a more forgiving and comfortable, endurance-focussed package for those who want to spend longer days in the saddle. I was lucky enough to throw my leg over a top-end Dogma X in Pinarello’s home province of Treviso, which was not a terrible experience.
To confess my priors, I thought the Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Think2 was about the prettiest bike I had ever seen when I laid eyes on it a decade or so ago. Since then, the Dogma has evolved, but it’s always remained the very pinnacle of my aesthetic estimation.
The Dogma F did nothing to change that. It’s a very, very beautiful bike, especially in the flesh. The undulating tubes, and particularly how svelte it is at the seat cluster, is drool-worthy. However, in the last decade, I haven’t aged as well as the Dogma. Its thoroughbred race-winning stiffness and aggressive geometry mean it’s not top of my wish list for rides that don’t end with a finish line and a podium. Furthermore, the seismic shift in generational wealth in the last decade or two means that from my observations, those with the wallets to afford Dogmas are not those with the limber backs. Apparently, Pinarello has taken note and is following the money with the launch of the Dogma X endurance bike.
First things first, though it introduced the expanded X-series simultaneously, I haven’t ridden that, so this is just a first ride of the Dogma X. And that’s a good place to start, because this version does get the Dogma moniker, highlighting it as the pinnacle of Pinarello’s engineering, and something rather special. It’s supposed to sit parallel to the Dogma F, delineating the ‘F’ line as that which you reach for if you’re racing.
I think the Dogma X (Dogmax?) is a tremendous looking bike, particularly in the Xolar Green, which is reminiscent of a British racing green. It’s definitely a Dogma, and you’d mistake it for an ‘F’ were it not for the X-STAYS and four points of attachment at the seat tube. It still looks really racy, though.
The course that was planned out was a gorgeous loop that incorporated 300m of ascent on roads of varying quality, including a section of Italian Strade Bianche (white roads) which were light gravel/fire roads. What goes up must also come down of course, so there was a bracing descent and a passing of the glorious Castello San Salvatore.
The roads were in great condition to start with, and the ‘X’ felt very much like an ‘F’. It was stiff at the bottom bracket when I put power through the cranks while seated, and the steering was direct and definite. Of all the Dogma traits, the steering is the most similar.
From the seat tube forward, “the X is basically an F”, said Chief of Operations Muaritzio Bellin, but with its rake very slightly increased to 47mm. ‘Decisive’, and ‘nimble’ are the adjectives that leap to the front of my mind. I certainly wasn’t pushing the bike to its capacity or limit on that first ride, and know that it had lots more steering performance to give than I was initially extracting. Given more time, trust and familiarity would be repaid in grip and confident line tracking. A Dogma, after all, likes being thrown into corners.
The other sensation, or rather lack of it, that was immediately prescient was the road buzz. On hospitably-surfaced tarmac, the X cracked along happily. It was initially hard to parse whether it was the frame removing the buzz, the lovely Princeton Carbon Works wheels, the smoothest rolling hubs I’ve perhaps ever ridden courtesy of Tune, or the 32mm Continental GP5000 tubeless tyres, or a lovely little mix of all of them (most likely); but, there was a smile-inducing smoothness to the ride character.
Dyed-in-the-wool race bikes can be both exhausting, and a handful over anything less than nice surfaces. They’re so stiff that you can feel every bit of grit under your front wheel in your wrists. Not so with the X. It appeared to maintain the twitchy, lively and direct steering, but absorbed the judder and the buzz.
It picked up speed quickly and held on to it on the flats, as you’d expect. Pinarello claim the X is 95% as aero as an F, with the majority of that 5% difference being down to the fat 35mm tyres the X was designed around. I felt immediately at home, or rather it felt immediately familiar.
I was very happy with my position. I could sit up comfortably to grind out the uphills, and get low enough on descents, but certainly nothing that pretzelled my spine. With more time to tinker and finesse, I think it would prove a comfy place to be for hours.
As the road wound its way up, the X behaved well. The chain stays are longer than the F, and you can feel it. The rear wheel isn’t quite as much under you, and the longer stays are designed for extra compliance which means there’s some flex when climbing hard out of the saddle. There’s no sag or wallow, it’s just not as direct as something with box girder rigid stays like a Specialized SL7 or SL8. That being said, I wasn’t able to coax any pad rub out of the discs, which means the X-STAYS were controlling lateral flex nicely, and swinging the bike from side to side was whisper silent at the rotors.
Now the X’s party trick. At the top of the hill was a winding Italian fire road. Authentically white for Italy, with a few shallow potholes. The ride over this surface was terrific. The bike I use most in the UK is a titanium all-road/gravel hybrid, currently shod with 37mm Gravel Kings, and I have to say I preferred the ride on the Dogma. I was surprised, sacrificing 5mm in rubber and titanium for carbon, I thought it wouldn’t be as good, but it was super. People who like titanium sometimes say how carbon feels ‘dead’ comparatively, and much as I don’t really think that, I know what they mean. I like carbon frames a lot though, but I know that they can feel a bit lifeless. This wasn’t that. There was a playfulness to the frame. It was very happy on this surface, and I was very happy on it.
Maybe the Pinarello mechanic who set this up out the box had absolutely nailed it. Maybe he got the tyre pressure just perfect, or maybe the Continental tyres punch above their weight vs Gravel Kings. Maybe this was Toray’s premiere T1100 1K weave carbon, moulded into shapes that had gone through hundreds of simulations, CFD and prototyping by some of the world’s best designers. Whatever it is, if I liked the X on the road, I loved it off the road too.
Finally, the descent. Oddly enough, this was the least interesting part of the ride. It behaved well, but I knew I was being cautious. It gathered speed so very fast, and I hadn’t quite got the measure of the bike, particularly of the grip threshold on the Contis, and the brand-new Dura-Ace pads and discs. It turned in nicely, but I knew there was more there, and more time would have yielded more confidence.
My overweening thought about the descent was that the X was so fast between corners. Maybe I was brimming with adrenaline and caffeine, but it felt when I arrived at the corner that I was going faster than I thought I was. The speed sort of crept up on you.
Having slept on it for a while, my main memories are the comfort, and floating over the white roads. Floating, that’s it. Oh, and the speed. The unnerving and addictive ready accumulation of speed.
Considering those two things, I’d say Pinarello hit what they shot at. Again, in the intervening days a few other things have occurred to me. The bike is growing on me. Really. I think it’s more than enough Dogma F to sate my go-faster lust, and more than enough Dogma X to allow me to tap into that performance without having a chiropractor on retainer. The dangerous thing is that I’m talking myself into it.
I know that if two identical versions of me set out together, one on a Dogma F and one on the new Dogma X, I think me on the Dogma F would be faster over the first mile or two than me on the Dogma X. Perhaps faster over five miles, even. But at some point thereafter, the version of me on the Dogma X would start to gain, and eat into the F’s lead, perhaps eventually overtaking me on the F. Unless you’re a pro with limitless reserves of stamina, the relentless bumps, buzz and judder sap your strength, leaving less in the tank to turn the pedals. The X preserves your reserves, meaning at some distance, to someone like me, the X is just going to be faster. That advantage is compounded too as the surface becomes less perfect. And as it’s more comfortable, so you’re probably going to enjoy the ride more too.
Lastly, it’s probably worth drawing attention to Pirelli. The tyre brand partnered with Pinarello to design the X, and with the bike designed around 35mm rubber, it also coincided with the launch of the Pirelli P-Zeros in that 35mm tubeless guise. In the wake of some recalls by Pirelli though, they’re exercising caution, and holding back the release of the 35mm tyres. What this means is that currently, the Dogma X is being supplied with 32mm Continental GP 5000s. In some of the shots, you can see the display bikes shod in the new Pirellis, and they felt really sticky to the touch. Hats off to Pinarello and Pirelli for erring on the side of caution, but I for one can’t wait to spend some proper time on the X, and dig deeper into its performance, and I hope to get the full experience on the wider Pirellis it was designed for soon.
Oh, and much as I loved it, I really should have loved it for the money it costs. In a world of nose-bleed bike costs, this is still comfortably atop the pile. Dogma by name, Dogma by sticker price. £13,300/$15,500 for a Dura-Ace Di2 build, and £5,500/$6,950 for the frame. It’s certainly not for free. Oh, and regrettably Pinarello isn’t bringing the SRAM Red build to the UK.
A few other titbits from the table of Pinarello, that are not really to do with the ride of the X, but are to do with the company: it was lovely to see Fausto Pinarello leading us out to ride on this the X’s debut, and I asked him what the future held for him and Pinarello.
His answer was that for him, “nothing would change”. He’d still do what he’d done for the last 40 years of his life, which is to “…come in to the office every day, and try and make a better bike.”
Tom is features and tech writer who's been writing and riding for over 20 years, and has had misadventures on almost every conceivable bike. From single-speeds, to aero race-bikes, gravel bikes, ebikes and mountain bikes, he's a big fan of almost everything that rolls on two wheels.