WHY did Pinarello decide to build the KOBH? I forget if I asked this exact question of Fausto or Luciano last summer in Italy but I bet it has something to do with a certain Juan Antonio Flecha of Team Sky. Up until Pinarello's sponsorship of the British team they mainly supported the Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne and their band of skinny grand tour climber types. There was not much need for a burly classics bike or equipment. Forget about T-Mobile of the Erik Zabel days. Back then Pinarello still hand made magnesium and aluminum frames and could make special classic bikes pretty easily. Jump back to 2010 and there was no more metal in Pinarello's line so it would be a pretty big deal to design a new bike around a few races in Belgium. This brings us back to Flecha. He's got a pretty descent classics resume and going into the classics season Team Sky felt he would also have good support but one thing they needed was a bike that could handle these rough races. While I'm sure (and we have plenty of miles on it to back it up) the Dogma could perform well in these races it lacked a few features that we will cover below to be considered a true classics frame. Enter the Pinarello KOBH.
KOBH is short for the word cobblestone which makes sense based on what the frame was made for. The KOBH made about the best entry into the world that Pinarello, Team SKY and Juan Antonio Flecha could ever hope for; a win in the 2010 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad or the Omloop Het Volk for those that have been around a while. What does this mean for those of us that will never race Het Volk or Paris Roubaix? Plenty! How many of you ride on perfect roads every day? No potholes or cracks or broken surfaces. I know we have some pretty rough roads here and plenty of dirt thrown in as well which to some degree qualifies as our own personal classics courses. Read below and see how and if this bike is right for you...
The flatter and thinner KOBH seatstays.
Round seat post! For those that may want to put on a different post for more or less set back. Shaped posts may look trick but not much you can do if you need to make an adjustment...
Here is a better picture of the entire rear end of the KOBH. The curved stays are said to dampen road vibration and bigger hits a bit better than the Onda stays on the Dogma...
...but the biggest feature of both the seat stays and the fork is that they are both a bit longer which allows for more tire clearance between the tire and the frame/brake caliper.
I've been running this same pair of Continental Competition 25c tires for all 1200+ miles. Running larger tires will dampen much more road vibration than any modified seat stay will. This to me is the genius of the KOBH and why you should really consider one if you want more comfort on your rides. The 25's feel as fast as the 22's I run on my Dogma and are more comfortable as you can run lower pressures. You can actually run up to a 28c tire on this bike which is unheard of with a pure race bike! Keep in mind that you can run 25c tires on a lot of bikes including the Dogma but not with this much clearance and definitely not a 28c!
The 47mm rake fork with the longer legs to accommodate the larger tire. The head angle on my 48cm (54cm top tube) bike is a bit steeper at 73degrees than my 53cm Dogma which has a 72.5degree head angle. This means that even with a much more raked fork the KOBH has a shorter front center than even a 51.5cm Dogma (53.5cm top tube). What does this mean? Not much to me as the bike handles incredibly but it is interesting...
Fresh off a hard 3hr ride doing what the KOBH does best, riding the rough stuff and getting dirty...
My KOBH test bike is set up as follows:
- Shimano Dura-Ace front derailleur
- Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur
- Shimano Dura-Ace shift/brake levers
- Shimano Dura-Ace brake calipers
- Shimano Dura-Ace italian thread bottom bracket w/ Ceramic Speed bearings
- Shimano Dura-Ace chain
- Shimano Dura-Ace cassette 12X27
- Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 SRM Power Meter 53X39, 170mm, Power Control 7
- Shimano Dura-Ace C35 carbon tubular wheels
- Continental Competition 25c tires (Vittoria Mastic cement)
- Speedplay ti zero pedals
- Deda Zero 100 stem 130mm
- Deda Zero 100 bar 440mm
- Pinarello tape
- Fizik Antares saddle, kium rails
- King Ti cages
In my opinion the front derailleur is the best feature of the 7900 group. I have yet to drop a chain and shifts from the 39t ring to the 53 are flawless!
While I think the Dura-Ace brakes are beautiful, I don't like the performance of the rear caliper. This could be because of the way I ride as I have not heard this complaint from anyone else but I think there is too much power. We have a lot of steep and curvy descents here and I just seem to lock up the rear wheel too much when I'm braking from speed and getting ready to enter the corner. I have not crashed but have been very close a few times. Again, this could be just me, I do tend to descend with a lot of weight over the front wheel (from riding long stems) and maybe I just don't have enough weight over the rear? But I don't notice this when using the Campagnolo Single pivot rear brakes...
Best power meter on the planet? SRM
Pinarello have fixed the friction caused by the internal routing of the rear brake and it's as smooth as any external routing that I've felt...
If we sponsored Team Sky they could have these sweet stems as well...
The KOBH feels pretty much like my Dogma. That is what everyone has been waiting for. All the questions I've received up till now have pretty much been, "how does it compare to the Dogma?". I was trying to figure that out the first time I rode it and then gave up coming to the conclusion; I don't know. This still feels like a race bike, it feels pretty stiff like the Dogma, climbs like the Dogma, descends like the Dogma, corners like the Dogma.
Why would someone buy the KOBH over the Dogma then? Easy, like I mentioned above I think a lot of cyclists should buy the KOBH OVER the Dogma! If you wanted a race bike for smoother roads just throw on some 22mm tubulars or 23mm clinchers and you are set. But if you want to smooth your rough roads out or be more comfortable at the end of that century put on the 25 or even 27mm tires and enjoy one of the smoothest rides on a high performance race bikes that you can imagine! I honestly did not feel the difference in geometry but I did notice a bit more toe overlap than on my Dogma, but this is mainly due to the fact that I chose the 48cm size to ride which with it's steeper head angle and fatter tires led to a bit more overlap than usual. This does not interfere with the ride at all unless you are going REALLY slow so it's really not an issue but I did want to point it out. Finding the correct size is key and a little different from other bikes so give us a shout and we'll make sure we put you on the best fitting size.
And for climbing? You'll notice a sharp decrease in performance from the legs well before any decrease in performance from the bike...
Now it's time to move on to another bike for a long term test. If you are interested in a low mile Pinarello KOBH that has been tuned and cleaned after almost every ride give me a call and we'll see what we can do to get you on this one!