This distinctive tough roadster from the Evans Cycles house brand certainly has urban appeal, but it doesn't shine as brightly once you ride outside the city limits.
Ride & handling: Durable rather than delicate
If we're blunt, the discount price is probably the natural home of the Dolomite's ride quality rather than just a reflection of running last year's kit. As a reasonably heavy bike with big, heavy 26c Kenda tyres, it takes a fair dollop of power to get it going. There's definitely some loss of potential speed as it goes through the separate crank arms and square taper bottom bracket. This puts acceleration on the eventual rather than effervescent side of the line, and on more cut-and-thrust group rides whoever was on the Pinnacle was soon at the back of the pack.
While the frame tubes are double butted and the fatter, thicker tyres can be run at lower pressure without increasing puncture or pothole-flat risk, the overall ride character is definitely durable rather than delicate. This allows for confident complacency on less than good road surfaces in terms of mechanical survival, but the parts of you that meet the bars and saddle are going to get some serious tenderising if you ride on the rough stuff for too long.
The ride position and handling take some getting used to as well. The head angle is only a relatively slack 72 degrees, but the straight-line-prone steering effect is very obvious. This is great for when you need to fish things out of your back pocket while you're riding along and for when you are plummeting down descents. While sticking a short stem on a slacker head angle is the current fashion in mountain bike terms, the mix of fast hand reactions with stable, self-correcting wheel feels weird on a road bike – not least because you're dealing with less grip and much less margin for error when it comes to sticking or sliding a tyre.
That meant it took a while for us to trust the Pinnacle on greasy, leafy corners. Obviously if you're riding it regularly, rather than switching bikes all the time like us, that'll be much less of an issue, but if you try one and it feels odd, that's why. At the end of the day the Dolomite is a steady, enhanced survival performer that'll last well on daily commuting duties, and if you buy at the discounted price it's a bargain. It's definitely more of a nippy donkey than a real thoroughbred though, which can be frustating at times.
Frame: Classic, simple style
If you're into classic, simple style then the steel grey Dolomite will get your attention straight away. The only modern twist to the average height, standard gauge head tube is a slight flare to accommodate internal bearings. There's only slight tapering on the main tubes but the big 'fish-scale' welds are nice and even, which points to a quality build despite the simple tubeset.
The D-to-round chainstays and straight gauge round seatstays continue the simple trend at the back end and with a frame weight of over 1.8kg, it should have strength to spare. Commuting credentials are completed with mudguard and rack mounts on the rear and mudguard mounts on the fork tips. The carbon-legged Kinesis forks echo the understated looks of the rest of the bike, even if the big graphic panel on the down tube seems at odds with the rest of the aesthetic.
Equipment: Continues the simple retro statement
Pinnacle has continued the simple retro statement through the bike components, with naked bright or brushed metal everywhere from rims to headset spacers. The short silver Kalloy stem produces distinctive steering as well as stand-out looks, and the deep drop, dual-pivot brakes get cartridge pads for a bit more bite while still giving full mudguard clearance for dry-bum commuting. There are even wear grooves on the rims so you know when they've had enough riding. In testing, the front wheel creaked and pinged for longer than expected until it settled. Even the back wheel creaked a bit at first.
While the deep siping (tiny cuts in the tread blocks to aid water dispersal) through the thick tread layer of the fat 26c Kenda tyres suggest enhanced wet-weather grip, they felt slippery and untrustworthy. They're robust enough to shrug off rough road use on a regular basis though, and should last for years. On the subject of years, Pinnacle run a different annual schedule to most brands which means you're still looking at the 2011 not the 2012 Tiagra here.
In practice you'll rarely notice you're running a 9-speed (rather than 10) rear block, but if you do decide to upgrade in the future you'll need to replace the whole running gear. The FSA Vero chainset also suffers from an upgrade obstacle in the shape of its separate arms and square taper internal bottom bracket format. On the bright side, the Dolomite is currently available for significantly less than its £799 list price.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus