This edition of BikeRadar Builds focuses on my Pinarello GAN K, the spendy antithesis of my (now sadly retired) Specialized Allez DSW SL winter bike. Like my Specialized, it’s a full custom build that you likely won’t see anywhere else.
Now discontinued, the GAN K was the endurance road bike in Pinarello’s range, taking clear inspiration from the then range-topping Dogma F8 ridden to victory by Bradley Wiggins. However, its geometry is more relaxed and it sports a beefier clearance for 28mm tyres (with plenty of room to spare).
Of course, being a Pinarello, the frame has the brand’s signature asymmetric design and its tube shapes are aerodynamically optimised. The GAN K also features the brand’s signature Onda fork, with its wave profile designed to increase compliance.
Although I’ve only clocked up 1,500km on the bike so far, it offers a comfortable and surprisingly fast ride. I’m looking forward to more rides on it in the coming weeks and months.
A languorous build process
I bought the frame in March 2020 when I worked at Carbon Bike Repair, a few weeks prior to the first UK Coronavirus lockdown.
Pinarello UK was having a clear-out of frames to make way for the new Prince model at the time. Although I really didn’t need another frame, the opportunity was too good to resist, and a rare chance for me to affordably own a Pinarello.
I didn’t see the point in building it up straight away, instead looking to take my time to ‘get it right’.
I thought it would originally be a (rather extravagant) winter bike, but those who know me well knew that would never happen.
Welcome to BikeRadar Builds
BikeRadar Builds is our occasional look at the team’s personal bikes, including custom rigs, commuters, dream builds, component testbeds and more.
This is our chance to geek out about the bikes we’re riding day-to-day, and explore the thinking (or lack of it!) behind our equipment choices.
- Oscar’s Specialized Allez DSW SL road bike
- Alex’s Marin Alpine Trail custom test bike
- Simon’s Planet X Exocet 2 time trial bike
- Simon’s 2009 TCR Advanced SL
- Jack’s refurbished touring tandem, Cecil
- Jack’s fabulously flexible 1994 Lee Cooper 653
- George’s Mason Bokeh gravel bike
- Matthew’s Genesis Croix de Fer 853
- Tom’s Santa Cruz Chameleon mullet singlespeed
If you’re going to blow your budget on a fancy groupset, you might as well do the same for the wheels, right? That’s exactly what happened.
I pulled the trigger on a Campagnolo Bora WTO 45 wheelset – the brand’s all-round 45mm-deep aero carbon option. They weigh 1,520g for the pair and sport a 19mm internal rim width, with 24 spokes front and rear.
I ‘justified’ the cost because they would also work on my BMC Teammachine SLR01 Disc.
I put an order in for the groupset and wheels in January 2021 and it took the best part of a year for everything to arrive due to parts shortages.
I built the bike up in January 2022, just before starting at BikeRadar.
In the Carbon Bike Repair workshop, we were convinced there was a mischievous ghost because very few frames would be rebuilt back into a complete bike successfully in one sitting.
There’d always be a missing, worn or broken part, or something spendy such as a Campagnolo EPS rear derailleur would suddenly decide to give the dreaded beep of death.
Well, the ghost got me good and proper with this build.
After getting through the majority of the build (the only major hurdle being the mundane task of routing the cables and hoses around the Italian threaded bottom bracket sleeve), I went to bleed the rear brake and oil leaked out of the lever.
Following a back and forth with the UK distributor, a faulty master cylinder was diagnosed and, by April, the bike was built up with a replacement and ready for action.
How does it ride?
The finished product was worth the painstaking build process – the GAN K offers a really exciting ride with nimble handling and is surprisingly fast.
It’s worth noting I was between sizes and I opted for the 53cm to achieve a slightly racier position (I’m 5ft 11in).
Pinarello’s racing pedigree is still very evident in this frame and the bike feels efficient in all scenarios, but not stiff-as-a-board like some of its older halo options.
Undoubtedly, the wheels play a large role in the bike’s riding characteristics and it will be interesting to see how it changes with a less exotic wheelset.
The bike’s quick handling requires a fair amount of rider input on descents, but it smooths out ruts and bumps solidly.
It’s not as comfortable as my Look 765 Optimum long-term test bike, which has blown me away, but it’s still an efficient mile-muncher.
The GAN K has been taken on its fair share of long rides so far. Its maiden voyage was a 123km ride to Brill, a quaint village with a windmill at the top of a hill, overlooking a panoramic view of Oxfordshire.
It’s served me well and turned heads on various club rides. The longest ride I’ve used the bike on so far was a 215km epic in preparation for an audax and I felt comfortable throughout.
I’d have no reservations about using this for some of the longer audaxes I plan to ride this year.
Probably the best mechanical groupset, ever
I’ve already covered my detailed opinions on Campagnolo Record 12 in my Gear of the Year entry, but in short, the shifting is brilliantly precise with excellent lever ergonomics.
Campagnolo’s hydraulic disc brakes are my favourite of the Big Three, too, offering unrivalled modulation and feel.
Record doesn’t have its own namesake chain and cassette, so I opted for the Chorus-level options rather than Super-Record. Chains and cassettes are only going to wear out and I couldn’t justify the significant premium.
I’m running 50/34 chainrings with a 172.5mm crank length, paired with an 11-32 cassette.
I’ve used 11-32 cassettes in the past and have always found the jumps between cogs frustratingly large. However, this groupset represented my first venture to 12-speed on the road, and because I built the frame with the intention of longer escapades, I wanted the bail-out gear.
I’m using Campagnolo Maximum Smoothness cables, which despite the cheesy name, deliver in spades with more flexible housing. I recommend always using these cables with Campagnolo 12- and 13-speed groupsets for the best possible shifting performance.
Like my other bikes, I use Jagwire Mini Tube Top Frame Protectors to avoid any unnecessary cable rub.
The rest of the build
The Bora WTOs are fitted with a pair of Continental GP5000 tyres in a 28mm width. In my opinion, no summer tyre offers comparable levels of grip and they are my favourite road bike tyres.
Because the frame has clearance for wider tyres, I’d like to fit some 32mm alternatives in the future to boost comfort.
The handlebar and stem is a carry-over from a cyclocross bike I once owned, a Norco Threshold. The handlebar is a Zipp Service Course SL-70 Ergo – I prefer to ride a shorter reach handlebar so I can run the longest possible stem length for more assured steering.
The carbon fibre handlebar is paired with a matching Zipp Service Course stem in a 100mm length.
The bars are wrapped with my favourite handlebar tape, Silca Nastro Fiore, which has sadly been discontinued. This tape is luxuriously tacky. I feel very smug that I bulk-bought a few sets and have some left in my parts stash.
I wanted to move the Chris King Dropset headset from the aforementioned Norco onto this bike, although only the lower bearing and top cap assembly made it across. The upper bearing and cover didn’t quite sit optimally, so I’ve had to make do with an FSA alternative instead.
The seatpost is Pinarello’s own proprietary aero offering – I’d prefer a round post, but this seems to cushion the ride well and hasn’t caused me any functional problems yet.
I’m using a Fizik Aliante saddle, another spare I had that was used on my old Trek Émonda SL. While it offers respectable comfort, it’s not my favourite and I’d like to change it soon.
In this build, the bike weighs 7.79kg.
What’s next for the Pinarello?
I really enjoy riding the GAN K whenever I come back to it. Other than the saddle and perhaps some wider tyres down the line, there’s nothing really left that I want to change.
Most of my time out on the road recently has been on the Look and I decided to dust the Pinarello off over Easter for the year. It’s refreshing to come back to a bike that offers a less inhibited riding characteristic, and the Record 12 groupset puts a giddy smile on my face.