Since the dawn of full carbon fibre frames, Pinarello has remained distinct from its rivals. Features such as the pronounced forward arch of the Onda fork and highly asymmetric back ends are complimented by organic surface shaping to create bikes with looks that strongly divide opinion between passionate Pina fans and strident opponents of the machines' aesthetics.
We like that Pinarello has chosen its own path, and we’ve always loved the way in which its bikes ride – and especially how they handle. Pinarellos usually feel firmer than most, and that translates into a wonderfully rigid experience that offers a true 'point and shoot' experience. Aim a Pinarillo at the apex of the sharpest of bends and it’ll hit the mark every time.
While the Razha is marketed as an endurance bike, its 185mm head-tube for our 57cm isn’t overly tall, and the 72 degree head angle hasn’t slowed or relaxed the steering significantly. This bike's definitely more than enough fun to throw around at speed.
Indeed, the Razha holds all of the traits we’d expect, but has a refreshingly compliant feel too. Previous similarly priced Pinarellos haven’t had the smoothness that it exerts, and consequently we’d never have chosen one for epic distance rides: unlike the firm's flagship bikes, they weren’t brilliant at killing off the high-frequency road vibrations that can tire you all too quickly.
Therein lies the success of the Razha: it retains the rigid structural feel that marks out the brand's bikes while improving rider comfort by a significant margin. In our opinion it's Pinarello’s best bike at this level to date – making it a worthy candidate for the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year 2014 Awards.
Well the frameset certainly is, anyway. For a premium brand such as Pinarello, getting a bike down to this price means compromising on the frame construction, or in terms of components. So while they've turned out a great quality bike that rides magnificently, the components don’t measure up quite as impressively in the company of its rivals.
The Razha uses Shimano 105 levers only, with the rest of the drivetrain and brakes being Tiagra. We’ve no problem with Tiagra – in fact we love its accurate shifting and all-round slick feel, and in choosing a compact chainset and 12-28 cassette Pinarello has given us a bike with ideal mountainous ride gearing.
Tiagra brakes, being based around the old 105 design, are fair performers too. But the single piece non-cartridge pads are a little too hard, lacking both the feel of pricier units, and significant bite in the wet. We’d change these sooner rather than later.
The Razha runs on Shimano’s R500 wheels. Again these are decent budget items and proven to be long-lasting and hardwearing, but they carry a tad more weight than is ideal. It's typical of the Pinarello’s component listing, which ensures the bike weighs in at 8.86kg – but we'd recommend dropping a good chunk of this via a few decent upgrades.