As seen at Eurobike
Pinarello Prince Carbon £2699.00 (frame,fork, headset and seatpin)
When rumours about Pinarello’s new baby started to circulate a few months ago, my first reaction was how exactly are they going to improve on the Paris Carbon?
With the Paris they have a frame that seems to do everything you could want…Stiff in key areas yet with a nod towards comfort, due in no small part, I suspect, to the Onda-profiled fork and seat stays. This “wavy” design has its detractors but it seems to achieve what it sets out to do… The handling of the Paris is also well balanced giving a responsive ride yet leaning towards the demands of the longer distance rider.
After giving it some serious consideration I said to myself, “Try to be really objective [Rohan about Pinarello? No way – ed.] and think hard about the ride sensation that the Paris offers”… Sure, if I go further back still and consider my first ride on Pinarello’s F4:13, their first serious stab at the all carbon fibre market a couple of years ago, I thought it was a fair bike but ultimately one that was held back to some point by its intended selling price. With its bigger budget, the Paris allowed the creative types in Treviso to play with a higher modulus of carbon fibre, 46 as opposed to 30HM, and ultimately when combined with subtle tube profiling and the odd strategic (possibly aesthetic) ripple here and bulge there they ended up with a real winner on their hands. Strong sales of the Paris were to some extent sparked by Valverde’s victories in the 2006 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne. Consistent year-long performances also led to him winning the UCI Pro-Tour astride a limited edition all-white model. Aside from that, the Paris Carbon had picked up a well-earned reputation as an excellent all rounder…
Universal acclaim seems the order of the day
Paris ticked all the boxes
However…whilst already enjoying owning my own Paris, I had to admit to a slight feeling that something was missing although I couldn’t be sure what. It was plenty stiff enough and forgiving when faced with a poor road surface. Even the cobbles of the Tour of Flanders cyclosportive earlier this year failed to really shake my belief that this frame ticked all the boxes.
So, after many hours of soul searching, I failed to come up with any idea of precisely what that missing thing was. Until of course that was, the 14th of July, when I rode a Prince Carbon for the first time!!
The new Prince has been three years in the making and was designed from the ground up to make a completely new and exciting addition to the 2008 Pinarello lineup. With a more curvaceous silhouette than any of its stablemates, the new Prince looks like no other road bicycle. Sure, the swooping lines of the top tube bear some resemblance to the odd Specialized or Wilier, but in truth this new frame is genetically 100% Pinarello.
The fork found on the Prince Carbon is lifted from the Dogma FPX. It was first seen on the recent revamp of that frame which stays in the range unchanged for 2008. Think regular Onda fork on steroids; only when seen side by side does the scale of the new FPX fork become clear, with its additional wave helping to offset the fork’s increased rigidity. This beefing up is carried into the head tube area of the frame, which utilizes an increased diameter 1 ¼” lower bearing, a feature also increasingly seen on rival high end framesets…
This substantial head area is where the first real difference between Paris and Prince can be felt. With a very positive steering sensation it is neither twitchy nor nervous, just assured and quick to respond to the rider’s input. I felt at home almost immediately with the change in handling that appeared to be present. The power of suggestion had the desired effect. This thing looks stiff and it is, but with no noticeable compromise in the ability of the front end to tackle bumps and jolts sent from less than perfect road surfaces.
10 sizes are on offer
The flowing top tube takes us towards the back of the bike and has done away with the more conventional stop-start rear brake cable route in favour of an internal path. There is no conduit or tunnel here, the entry and exit holes on the top tube are recessed and angled to accommodate the supplied ferrules. If anything the brake cable feels like it has a little more drag than when run externally but perhaps careful cutting of exact lengths and “dressing” the cables before assembly would help. I suspect the rear brake on my test bike may have been slightly compromised by the hurried cable re-routing just before the Granfondo Pinarello reported elsewhere on RCUK…
The seat tube is the least noticeable part of the frame design; simple in profile and taking a 34.9.mm front mech clamp, it leads to a massively reinforced bottom bracket area. There is no doubt that this is whence much of the Prince’s resistance to flex and immediacy of acceleration stems. The Prince’s 50 HM (High modulus) carbon fibre is sourced from Japanese specialists Toray and is blended in key areas of the frame with 40 HM. This blending obviously works and has allowed the creation of a rigid and lightweight platform. My only disappointment with this massive BB structure is that as a result it is no longer possible to fit a “dog fang” to avoid any chance of overshifting when changing down to the inner chainring. Although one could argue that when gears are adjusted correctly this shouldn’t happen [true – ed.], in reality though it does and it did, just as I was faced with a rapid change in gradient and the small ring was needed in a hurry…
Immediate power transfer
That aside, the BB area is as stiff as you like and, coupled with the cunningly designed chainstays, contributes to this frameset’s immediate power transfer. The stays themselves are cloned from the Pinarello Montello FP8 TT bike and have a hidden secret under the paint… Despite sharing the same, albeit reversed profile, Fausto proudly tells me that during lab tests his engineers discovered the left and right sides of the frame undergo different loads as the frame twists under pedal force. These tests further revealed that it is in fact the left hand side that suffers more so a stiffer combination of fibres was used to offset this. The rear of the bike features a revised “Onda” profile also taken from the Dogma FPX and the deeper profile flanks blend in aesthetically with the rest, finishing off what is a surprisingly rigid rear to such a compliant ride. I think what makes the Prince Carbon so special has to be the feeling of dynamite acceleration (legs willing) and pin sharp handling, partnered with an almost disconcerting ability to forgive all but the worst of roads.
Special Operations Executive would have been proud…
Ultimately the Prince is a master of at least two trades, being equally happy in an hour long crit or at the other end of the spectrum, dragged around the odd endurance event with several thousand metres of climbing. Lightweight and yet with no impression of a frame under stress, this frame feels like, and essentially is, a step forward for carbon fibre in this application…
With 10 sizes to choose from, Fausto and his team have allowed a better chance of good bike fit than most manufacturers. However, care must be taken when ordering as Pinarello frames do not all share the same geometry. Close inspection of the figures before taking the plunge is highly advisable…
All you Paris owners, myself included, will have to check their bank balances and decide whether to “trade up”. If they do, they will find an eager, sweet handling frame awaiting them as will anyone thinking of purchasing what will be one of the bikes of 2008…