The Pinnacle Dolomite Five combines a lively and versatile aluminium frame with an excellent spec in a machine which delivers plenty of bang-for-your-buck.
Pinnacle is the house brand of Evans Cycles and the range has been overhauled in recent years after the high street retailer secured the signing of James Olsen, who previously worked at Genesis and now looks after both Pinnacle and HOY Bikes at Evans.
Olsen knows what makes a machine well-suited to British conditions and which won’t break the bank and the £900 Dolomite Five is just that, thanks to clearance for 28mm tyres and full-length mudguards to mark it out as a contender as a sub-£1,000 first road bike or an all-weather winter bike.
The Five is the most expensive machine in a Dolomite collection which starts with the £475 Dolomite One. The Dolomite Three, Four and Five share the same frame, made from a 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminium alloy, paired with a full carbon fibre fork with a 1-1/8″ to 1-1/5″ tapered steerer.
That’s an impressive addition at this price – the tapered steerer is new for the 2014 model – and the fork also has mudguard eyelets and clearance for full-length ‘guards. That’s a smart move on a bike like this, given the winter we’ve had, and it ensures the Dolomite is well setup to handle the vagaries of the British climate.
Despite that all-weather versatility, Olsen has sought to ensure the Dolomite remains an lively machine to ride and has achieved that with a compact geometry with a tight rear triangle and short wheelbase. That compact design also intends to save weight – less material has to be used – as well as increase stiffness. The slim seatstays and ovalised toptube are designed to improve comfort, otherwise it’s round tubes all the way for the downtube and seattube.
The Dolomite Five comes in just four sizes from small to extra-large – so particularly short or tall riders might struggle – and our medium test bike has a 56cm effective toptube, 160mm headtube, and 73 and 72 degree seattube and headtube angles. FWE on the headtube badge is a nod to Frederick W. Evans, who opened the company’s first shop on Kennington Road, south London, in the 1920s.
What does all that mean on the road? The Dolomite’s compact frame design and tight geometry translates to a nimble bike which is fun to ride. Plenty of exotic machines pass through RoadCyclingUK Towers and it’s testament to the Dolomite that we’ve had no qualms pulling it from the bike shed over the last month.
It rides better than most £900 bikes, thanks in part to a stiff aluminium frame which provides a solid base to convert your effort into speed. That encourages you to be aggressive with it, whether that’s attacking a climb or sprinting for a town sign. Overall weight is 8.95kg, which is good for the money but it’s still no lightweight in the grand scheme of things. Still, you rarely feel like you’re being held back when the road tilts skyward. We achieved a Strava King of the Mountains on a competitive local segment on the Dolomite and while that’s far from a scientific test – fitness, form and wind direction are very significant factors – it shows that the Dolomite has more than enough about it when you want to move the pace along.
The geometry, meanwhile, strikes a good balance between what you’d expect to see on a race bike and a sportive bike. The handling is sure-footed and it’s an easy bike to ride, calm under hand but responsive and accurate enough to carve a path through a technical descent.
It’s not a super-smooth ride, but nor does it retain the really harsh ride quality of aluminium frames of old. The back end is better at dealing with road buzz than the front, thanks to those skinny seatstays and the low-slung toptube, which means the seattube on our medium bike is just 50cm long, leaving plenty of the seatpost exposed. The seatpost, by the way, is also aluminium, and while an upgrade to a carbon post should improve comfort further, its 27.2mm diameter helps deal with the worst of the road buzz before it reaches your backside. The front-end, however, is a little harsher – not unduly so but you know about if you hit a crack in the tarmac or spend a while on a rutted road. The handlebar tape the Dolomite comes with is fairly thin and we’d change it to something with a little more padding.
Pinnacle have put together a build which represents excellent value for money. The shifters, front derailleur and rear derailleur are Shimano 105 and the Japanese component manufacturer’s mid-range groupset is one of our favourite setups for its combination of performance and value. Otherwise, FSA provide the Gossamer chainset and the cassette is Shimano Tiagra. The combination of compact rings and an 11-25t cassette ensures a good spread of gears (most bikes we see in this mould have a 28t sprocket on the bike but that’s an easy upgrade if you need a lower gear).
Tektro’s R539 long-drop brakes are 57mm-deep so provide clearance for full mudguards and, while they don’t have as much bite as Shimano’s 105 calipers, offer a decent amount of modulation. As for the wheels, Pinnacle have specced the Dolomite Five with Shimano RS11 hoops, which are solid performers, if – as you can only expect at this price – a little heavy thanks to a claimed weight of 1,848g. They only have a spoke count of 18/20 front/rear but remained true through the course of our test.
The frame has clearance for 28mm tyres, though the off-the-shelf machine is specced with 25mm Kenda Kriterium wire bead tyres. We only suffered one puncture – a pinch flat on a country lane in particularly bad condition – during our test, so not enough to call the tyres’ puncture protection into question, but they feel a little wooden and you’ll likely to feel the benefit of something a little faster under foot.
Finally, as far as the spec is concerned, Pinnacle supply the own-brand aluminium handlebar, stem and seatpost, as well as the saddle, and it’s all performs the job in hand with little fuss.
The Pinnacle Dolomite Five has a lot going for it in the crowded sub-£1,000 market. The ride, while not super-smooth, is fast and fun, and the handling sure-footed and in need of little attention, which works well on a bike likely to attract the eye of new riders, or those in the market for an all-weather commuter or winter bike. If that’s the case, the Dolomite Five should be on your shortlist.