It had been a while since I'd last spent quality time with a quality road bike, so when the GB Team asked me to do a test of one of their second-hand Pinarello Princes, I naturally jumped at the chance.
My day-to-day "road" bike is normally an aluminium ‘Cross bike with road wheels and tyres. It serves a purpose, and gives me a decent ride. However, I hadn't even put my leg over the Prince before I began to appreciate I was dealing with a completely different kind of bike.
A Prince among bikes - the Pinarello relaxes in an urban setting, where it's surprisingly comfortable
The weight, thanks to the top end components and carbon frame was impressively low as I hiked it into my bike stand for a few comfort adjustments. I'm not an elite athlete, so I opted to invert the stem and move it to the top of the steering stack, making for a slightly more upright riding position.
I also tipped the bars back a bit to make the lever hoods more horizontal, tweaked the saddle height and popped my own pedals onto it and I was ready to go.
A week later after a mix of longer, hilly rides in the Pennines and a few shorter commutes through rush-hour traffic and I was ready to feedback.
The ride is stiff but not in the least uncomfortable. Carbon is the frame material of choice at the moment and you can see why. A three hour ride in the hills flew by, my average speed up a notch or two on my norm and there were no comfort problems at all.
Oddly, it was when I turned to the commuting that I really began to appreciate the bike's qualities. The high end componentry works faultlessly, eliminating the crappy gear changes which you don't need in heavy traffic. The brakes too were superb: powerful and with bags of feel. Ideal for the cut and thrust of a busy A road commute across town.
The bike's handling also struck me. Most bikes "steer" after a fashion but the Prince really does handle like a dream. It's straight-line stability is reassuring, but in tight situations, sharp right turns on broken road surfaces and pot-hole bunny hops all came extremely easily to this thoroughbred.
I very soon felt confident and at home on the bike, developing that all-important trust and feel for the bike which marks the coming together of rider and machine.
From the racing cyclist's point of view, everything makes total sense. This bike is light. It is stiff enough to ensure that as much of your output reaches the rear wheel as possible. It drifted up climbs several gears higher than I would normally expect to ride them in and I found myself able to keep up with traffic a surprising amount of the time.
If you were to buy the bike for sportive usage, a lower bottom gear (this one was 39 x 23) might come in useful, but the compact and compliant frame promised to remain comfortable way beyond the 3 hours I rode it for.
All-in-all I was highly impressed with this bike. It did everything you'd expect it to do. But it also brought something extra to the deal - I'd stick my neck out and say it was the best handling road bike I've ever ridden. And that turned a good bike into a great one in my opinion.
The GB Team have a limited number of these superb used bikes still available - check out the list and pricing page.