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Pinarello: Winning Doctrine

With three teams in the Tour de France, Fausto Pinarello is very busy in the months leading up to the race, especially this season. Pinarello's company builds the bicycles for the Telekom, iBanesto.com and Fassa Bortolo teams, and the preparation details are almost too numerous to comprehend. Every single bike requires custom dimensions, and specific needs have to be addressed with each rider, particularly high-profile stars like Erik Zabel, Ivan Basso and Unai Osa. This year, the task has been particularly challenging because Pinarello planned to deliver a fully custom version of his

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Pinarello’s Dogma lays down new rules in pursuit of victory

By Lennard Zinn

Photo: AFP

With three teams in the Tour de France, Fausto Pinarello is very busy in the months leading up to the race, especially this season.

Pinarello’s company builds the bicycles for the Telekom, iBanesto.com and Fassa Bortolo teams, and the preparation details are almost too numerous to comprehend. Every single bike requires custom dimensions, and specific needs have to be addressed with each rider, particularly high-profile stars like Erik Zabel, Ivan Basso and Unai Osa.

This year, the task has been particularly challenging because Pinarello planned to deliver a fully custom version of his ultra-new magnesium Dogma frame to every rider on the three teams by the end of May. Pinarello shrugs off the difficulty of the custom aspect of it, since he is so used to building custom frames for so many pro riders. Some, like Mario Cipollini and Jan Ullrich — and even Miguel Induráin on occasion — were notoriously finicky. “From year to year, riders rarely change any of the specifications of their frame, and they know exactly the measurements they want,” says Pinarello.

Still, he has taken on an enormous challenge this year to deliver so many magnesium frames so quickly. The material is in short supply, it must be welded molto lenta (very slowly), and workers must be careful not only because it is very thin but also because it must be protected from oxidizing throughout the process. Welding magnesium uses the same TIG (tungsten inert gas) arc welding process as aluminum, including using alternating current from the arc to alternately weld and clean off the rapidly forming oxide scale.

Photo: Pinarello

On the surface, the Dogma frame does not look much different from an aluminum one, apart from the curvy shape of the Onda fork and seatstays. The new Onda carbon fork — Onda is Italian for “wave” — has been very popular with the riders on all three teams, according to Pinarello. “They are more comfortable, and the riders especially like them in descents,” he says. “All of the riders have been using Onda forks all season [mostly on aluminum Prince SL frames] and love them. The old fork is more rigid, and they use that for the classics with cobblestones. Zabel, for one, used an Onda fork on his magnesium frame in all of the classics except Paris-Roubaix.”

The comfort of the Onda fork, says Pinarello, is further enhanced when mounted on a magnesium Dogma, which he says is more comfortable than aluminum due to the thinner frame-tube walls that are possible via magnesium’s higher strength. However, the greater stiffness of magnesium relative to aluminum, combined with the larger tube sections and more specific tube shaping, results in a frame that is laterally more rigid. Since magnesium is also less dense than aluminum, the frame is remarkably light.

Fausto Pinarello is convinced that his riders will love their new Dogmas in the Tour, and as an accomplished rider himself and a rabid fan of the sport, he’s also sure that the extra effort is worthwhile.

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