Bicycling Mag Reviews the KOBH
Pinarello: KOBH 60.1
Weight: 16.03 lbs
Issue: Nov 2010
A GENRE-BENDING BIKE FOR ROUGH ROADS It might seem bold for a brand-new pro team to tell its bike sponsor that the menu was inadequate--doubly so when the bike sponsor is Pinarello, the Italian company that has shot to renewed prominence over the past few years with its Paris, Prince and Dogma race machines in everything from magnesium to industry-leading carbon. (And which has a storied past on steel bikes that took, among others, five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain to glory.)
But bold is exactly what the Sky team was last fall, asking the fabled Treviso, Italy, company to design a new bike expressly for the northern Classic races such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
The result was the KOBH 60.1 (it's pronounced "cob"), which Pinarello sped from design into production in time for Juan Antonio Flecha to ride to a third in the Queen of the Classics. The bike takes many of its cues from the redesigned-for-2010 Dogma, our Editors' Choice winner for best race bike. There are slight variations: The chainstays are 7mm longer than the Dogma's and, on our 54cm tester, the seat angle is almost half a degree slacker than a comparable Dogma, so you sit slightly farther behind the bottom bracket. In some kind of compromise beyond our comprehension, the fork rake is increased from 43mm to 48 (which would push the front wheel out) but the head angle is steeper (which would pull the front wheel in). The KOBH has the same Toray 60HM1K carbon as the Dogma and shows a similar asymmetrical approach to the tubes: Different layups in the top tube and in the drive- and nondrive-side stays are arranged to resist twisting or flexing under pedaling force. And, also like the Dogma, the frame uses what Pinarello calls Nanoalloy Technology, microscopic carbon fibers added to the carbon and resin mix to help combat the microcracking and fatigue than can plague carbon frames.
Still, the KOBH won't replace the Dogma on most race days. Nor is it plush, in the sense that it emphasizes comfort. It's best to say that it's a bike for a Gran Fondo--long, tiring rides you want to do fast, then be fresh enough afterward to enjoy a limoncello on a sunlit piazza. Or an icy 40 in front of the 7-Eleven.
Andrea Pinarello, younger brother of Pinarello's current director Fausto and organizer of the popular Gran Fondo Pinarello, favors the KOBH as his everyday bike. And it's easy to understand why. Our testers judged it remarkably similar in both fit and ride feel to the pure-racing Dogma and Prince. But the long and low position aside, the KOBH offers all-day comfort. The slightly curved seatstays and fatter tires (it fits up to models as wide as 28mm) ironed out washboard wrinkles and shattered roadbeds even with deepsection carbon wheels, while retaining the kind of spirited ride we love about the Dogma and Prince.
In fact, the KOBH is so close to these bikes that, if you wanted a stablemate for one of them, you might want to choose some other bike that offered a completely different flavor of ride. Unless you're Flecha, the KOBH is no complement. It's the ultimate bike for a performance rider who loves rough roads and all-day rides, ever so slightly more gritty than its purebred brethren.
And all of this raises the question: Is it sacrilege to ride a fine Italian race bike on dirt? Flecha would say no--that it feels just right--and so do we.--Joe Lindsey
* WEIGHT: 16.03 lb. (54cm)
* SIZES: 48, 51.5, 54 (tested), 56, 57, 58cm
* FRAME: Toray 60HM1K carbon fiber
* FORK: Pinarello Onda
* COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS: Shimano Di2 shifters, derailleurs, Dura-Ace compact crankset (50/34), cassette (12-25) and brake calipers, SH-7850 CL wheels; Continental GP 4000 700x25mm tires; Pinarello MOST one-piece carbon-fiber handlebar and stem
* INFO: pinarellousa.com
* BUY IT: If your racing style is blue collar
* FORGET IT: If you go the long way to use the executive washroom