I will say however that riding a Colnago C59, which I bought purely for the paint job, has been a revelation. Undoubtedly the most balanced carbon frameset I have ridden to date.
For every day riding, an old custom Seven Axiom built to be sturdy rather than light has been and remains a superb bike, again wonderfully balanced just not quite as urgent.
After that, both the Cannondale Super Six HM and Neil Pryde Alize handle superbly particularly when pointed downhill and finally the Look 595 remains a classically smooth balanced ride that shows a number of modern offerings that maybe the priorities are not where they should be.
I look forward to riding something better still.
Colnago C40 = Pinarello Galileio
Merckx Corsa 01
Custom Excel Steel
Parlees were pretty similar, just that the Z5SL rides a little bit better and has a slightly stiffer head tube. Balanced by the fact that the Z4 had nicer paint. With cosmic ultimates both are hillclimbing weapons or with Shimano C24s you can ride on gravel roads all day. Big thanks to Parlee for turning the Z4 into a Z5SL under warranty when the Z4 weirdly started to crack in the middle of the seat tube.
I had a go on a friend's R3SL. It was a nice bike, objectively better than the C40. But no beauty and I didn't feel any love.
The C40 is just a great bike, definitely about 10 years ahead of its time. I have one from about 1999/2000 with a conical downtube, bigger chainstays and normal seat stays in Rabobank colours. I don't ride it much now, normally its reserved for the odd summer ride or commute and for when friends from Oz come over. Even if the ride was rubbish (which it's not) it would be close to top because of the paint which looks great but is clearly artisanal in a few areas. Also the Italian BB was a pain when the bike was new until I discovered threadlock.
Pinarello Galileio is a bit of a sleeper - it's a mid range aluminium bike with bendy carbon stays and bendy onda fork. It looks good and the finish is perfectly executed. Ride is pretty bad compared to the C40 but it's not really a bike for all day use. I build mine with Ultegra / Dura Ace and mid range parts so it was heavy but nice on the flat as it feels really stiff with sharper handling than the C40 and Parlees. It's now about 6 years old and my cousin still rides it regularly. Tempted by a Dogma as they look great even if stupidly expensive and heavy.
The steel bikes are pretty rubbish compared with the carbons. I don't know how I used to ride down hills at over 50mph on them, since they don't go where you point them. The custom Excel steel was a mistake in retrospect. I wanted a light steel bike - it was extremely light and looked nice, but the tubes were slightly smaller than normal so not exactly stiff. It got dented easily and one time it fell out of a rack on the A40 when the downtube squashed. Also the dropout cracked. Not good.
The Merckx is better and goes as fast on a club ride as a carbon bike, but feels like riding a spring. Mostly I use it to pull my son on a tag-a-long bike.
The Ribble came from an era where a "superbike" cost £1000. It was my first proper road bike and helped me ride Land's End to John o'Groats, win a few races, get under the hour generally soak up 10 years of punishment without breaking or rusting (fully chromed all over under the paint). I quite liked its handling, however the fork alone weighed more than the Z5SL's frame and forks and things have simply moved on since it was new.
So if you have plenty money I'd recommend the Parlee, ideally with custom paint. If not, I'd recommend you buy the bike you find most exciting since objectively there is not much real difference in performance.
The second best is the C-50, which is my current bike which keeps me fully satisfied.
If I would buy a new bike I could be happy with a NOS C-40 B-Stay or probably a C59, but the C50 is so good that I am not lusting for any other bike in the moment.
My current Lynskey R 320. my old Bianchi SLX Corsa Service, Titus Solera, Klein Quantum 2 and my Scott Plasma 2 tt. I still own two on the list and really wish I still owned the Bianchi.
Pugrot wrote:But where are all the dogma owners proclaiming the asymmetric design and curvy bits gives the most latterly stiff / vertically compliant ride and was the best money ever spent?
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2. Colnago Extreme Power- phenomenally versatile
3. Pinarello Dogma- so well balanced and easy to ride hard
4. Colnago Conic SLX- heavy as sin but its the only bike I have ever won races on
5. Look 595- excellent ride but with quirks in manufacturing and quality
Not making the list but worthy of mention:
Look 585, Time VX Special Pro, Time VXRS, Lemond carbon ?(Kelly benefits team bike), Stevens CX,
Utterly forgettable Bikes:
Look 586, Specialized S-works Roubaix, Time RXR, Time Cross pro, Parlee, Trek 5900, Trek madone 5.9, Cervelo R3SL, Cervelo SLC-SL, bianchi boron
1. Colnago C40HP –Love this bike. Its not the stiffest or lightest but it just seems to do everything well. I’d love to try a EPS or C59
2. Principia RS6 Pro – Bought this second hand for £180 and it turned my eyes into how good aluminium can be. Was gutted when it broke.
3. Pinarello Dogma FP – Model before the fabled FPX, I really enjoy this frame. Incredibly smooth but still stiff.
The Pinarello and Principia are equal imo
Also owned a Cannondale SuperSix, Colnago Mix, Speedvagen
None of those are as good as the top 3 above.
I’ve ridden a bit on a Dogma 60.1 and in my short experience with it I’d rate that as No.1 . Incredible bike….
Cervelo R3 sl - a well balanced yet fast frame, only bettered by the Parlee
Cervelo P3C - Loads of wins and PB's; stiff fast & comfortable
Cannondale Caad9 - use it as a Winter bike, very comfortable and fast
Principia Rex e SX pro - wow super stiff, super built alloy frame, sizing did not suit me but it was a joy to ride
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