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Procycling's 'Old vs. New' report. Aug '09 issue.

Mar 15, 2009
I've just read the 'Old vs. New' report in the Aug. '09 issue of Procycling.

I was reading through the riders comments on how the '80's Pinarello handled and how it was spongy going up and downhill, and how some felt the bike felt 'dangerous'. I couldn't figure out why all the riders' experiences were so negative; a few perhaps, but not almost universal dislike.

Then I spotted it, tucked away in a sidebar; the choice of rims.

For the '80's bike, the suppliers of the Pinarello decided to equip it with a pair of Assos rims! C'mon guys, these things were the pits.

Anyone who has ever used them would testify to this. They were awful - and especially awful on a road bike. They were designed for use on the track for record and top-level pursuit events - not climbing cols, let alone descending them!
They were about as stiff as 15 minute spaghetti and the only confidence they they'd inspire is the one that says 'soon, very soon, you'll be bouncing along the road on your a8se'. NOT what you want to be using on anything less than billiard-table-smooth surfaces requiring little or no braking and don't even think about cornering at speed with these underneath you.

About the only good thing about these rims was that they helped Assos make the decision to concentrate on clothing and stay out the components market. If they had continued to produce pups like these, I'm sure they'd be a distant memory; another name on the list of failed 80's equipment suppliers.

The choice of rims are a pity, because this had the making of a good article, but the test is flawed by using those rims to build the wheels.
Had some Mavic SSC, GP4, Wolber Pro or Ambrosio Durex rims been used - benchmark stuff for the era - the results would have been somewhat different, I'm sure of it.

Wheels are vital in determining how a bike will handle, how well it's going to move over different terrain and surfaces. I don't need to tell you that. But using a record attempt rim on a bike designed for all-round road use is just plain stupid. I'd have said the same to anyone who thought they were suitable back in the '80's and pointed them in the direction of a set of GP4's.

Same applies today; go riding over cobbles on deep section carbons and you'll come a cropper. Use a Mk1 Deep V Shamal for touring or as a climbing wheel and you might as well stuff a couple of bricks in your back pockets. It's all about finding a balance, and using those particular rims in this particular test resulted in a less than balanced report.