Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost in Words : Pinarello ONDA Fork Design

Pinarello has been making some great looking bikes over the past 20-30 years or so. In an industry which has only so much freedom to play around in (primarily due to the UCI restrictions), the Italian company has been taking some bold steps with its radical designs such as magnesium alloy framework, proprietery headsets and S-bends in more places than you can think of. While many adore the eye catching paintwork and curvylicious exterior, a fair share of others also think its simply overkill.

This factory is responsible for those curves in your Pinarello. Some sections of Pinarellos also seem to be made in China but I'm not sure about this.

Pinarello has a patented method of attaching the front triangle to the monostay (or rear fork). As I saw the fatigue testing of one of their wavy forks, also called "ONDA" , I asked myself : What possible advantage could this radical shape really offer?

Keen observers will have noted that this is not the first time a wavy design has been incorporated into the bicycle. Think Hetchins :

Or a Bates from the 50's :

The question of whether Pinarello jumped on someone else's idea is really moot.

But the fact is, the average cycling Joe, curious about the design, is lost in words and seeks to find if theres any real "gold" in ONDA's waves, if you will. Afterall, one of these Pinarellos can easily set him back by 5K or above. Fear not! Lo and behold, lets try and steer this article to make some sense.

Much of the hype/talk about the benefits of this enigmatic fork seem to be drowned in subjectivity and advertising statements. It was an interesting experience for me to see what various people had to say on this topic.

The following statements were collected, & reasons are made in brief and in bold. (Sadly, nothing else exists and if there's anything else about it out there, its probably all hush hush)

Turning Power While Eating

Dear Chas,

The waviness of the fork offers increased turning power.

Also known as fork-torque.

This is crucial when eating spaghetti. Noodles tend to slip off
straight tines.


Carl Fogel - Rec.Bicycles.Tech

The Pro's Love It!

The new Onda carbon fork - Onda is Italian for "wave" - has been very popular with the riders on all three teams, according to Pinarello. "They are more comfortable, and the riders especially like them in descents," he says. "All of the riders have been using Onda forks all season [mostly on aluminum Prince SL frames] and love them. The old fork is more rigid, and they use that for the classics with cobblestones. Zabel, for one, used an Onda fork on his magnesium frame in all of the classics except Paris-Roubaix." - VeloNews

Stunning Kiss of Smoothness, Pure Power Transmission

And even more distinctive was the fact that the Prince SL was built with an Onda fork and seatstay -- the swooping S-curve design standard on all of Pinarello's top-dollar frames to this day. The Onda design looks stunning, and it adds a kiss of smoothness to a bike otherwise designed for pure power transmission.
- Competitive Cyclist

Stiff Yet Compliant - ("Yawn")

Road Tests Have Confirmed Our Expectations. The FP2 is stiff yet compliant while delivering a very responsive ride. - RSCYCLE

The curvaceous "Onda" (meaning "wave") fork on the Dogma is not only visibly distinct and appealing, it is claimed to be as laterally rigid as current Pinarello carbon forks while being more vertically compliant for greater comfort. - VeloNews

The ONDA fork provides absolute stability even on the most twisting descents and high comfort on the bumpiest roads; with the introduction of lower headset bearings less than 1" in diameter, this provides a key increase in fork stiffness. - Pinarello

Bike Is Not "Nervous"

The 43mm offset of the Pinarello's Onda fork, combined with a 73 degree head angle (for a 55cm frame), makes for very agile steering. Yet the bike doesn't feel too nervous at all. It's as if it reacts with zero hesitation to your slightest nudge, yet doesn't get carried away and steer you off your course or prompt an anxious urge to correct any wobbles. - Cycling News

Practical and Theoretical Guesses

Practical or theoretical?

The practical is product differentiation. The theoretical is the
disruption of road shock path of travel. now, you go ahead and weigh up
which you think prevails... - Jim Beam, Rec.Bicycles.Tech

Vibration Dampening

It has the unique ONDA CRA rear end and the ONDA fork, this design dampens any vibration and gives exceptional handling and weighs in at just less than 1 kilo. - Bike Cycling Reviews

The Prince Carbon is built with an Onda FPX fork. Unlike the standard Onda fork, Pinarello built a second "wave" into the "S" shape of the FPX. This redesigned shaping serves to further reduce vibrations and increase comfort on any road surface. In addition, the FPX is also completely built from 50HM1K carbon to reduce weight. The Prince Carbon also comes with a Pinarello integrated headset and a Pinarello carbon fiber seatpost . - Competitive Cyclist

Wavy OndaFPX seatstays, mimicking the unique Pinarello Onda fork, should soak up vibration to prevent the stiff material from making the ride feel too harsh. - Cycling Weekly

Steering Control

Wave shaped "Onda" carbon forks and seatstays add 5% more efficiency and 10% more comfort than traditional bends. An oversized 1 1/4" lower headset stack provides a key increase in steering control while still fitting all industry standard 1 1/8" stems - Bikyle

Finite Element Analysis

The Onda fork was first conceived in 2003, going through an extensive two-year testing period. Using Finite Element Analysis to find the desired perfect balance between lateral stiffness and vertical compliance is how Pinarello ended up with this shape. Using a double S shape resulted in an overall 5% increase in stiffness, while at the same time reducing road shock. This may not sound a lot, but as they say when you add up all the 1% it will make a big difference overall. Many bike companies have used the same principal of curving the stays to increase comfort, while at the same time not reducing the stiffness of the bike. Pinarello were the first to incorporate this into the front fork and the rear stays. - Road Cycling UK

Petacchi's 56.8cm x 58.5 cm Dogma frame weighs in at 990grams, and features the Pinarello "ONDA" or Wave fork, made in a reversed S shape and weighing 385 grams Pinarello used Finite Element Analyse in the design of the fork to address three key axes: longitudinal, transverse & vertical, providing more stability in steering and braking. - CyclingNews

ONDA has a special reversed double S carbon fibre fork & chainstays, a shape Pinarello developed from two years of intensive Finite Element Analysis computer research that is the best solution for longitudinal & lateral stiffness and vertical shock damping. ONDA was created exclusively for the new DOGMA FP integrated headset. - Pinarello

ONDA FP's reversed double S offers a more stable ride in the turns and under breaking, and good damping from road shock without affecting steering; this offers 5% more overall stiffness and 10% more over our BETA fork. - Pinarello

Virtual Bike Machinery (An inhouse simulation software used by Pinarello)

The first simulations of frame behavior on the computer go back to 1994, at the time of the Espada project, the bicycle used by Miguel Indurain for the Hour Record.

Later, this type of study was applied to the Onda fork and the magnesium Dogma frame.

The application of design methods based on three-dimensional modeling of the entire frame was introduced with the project for the Montello time race frame in 2002 and the new central movement
Recently, we developed what we call "Virtual Bike Machinery" which is a simulation of the test machine in which theoretical calculations can actually anticipate the experimental tests before the prototype is even built.

- Pinarello

Well, what do you think? Users of Pinarellos, engineers and bike technicians most welcome to post comments.


Ryan said...

I fell in love with the Montello FM1. I worked hard, saved my pennies while admiring the beauty of its lines from afar. Alas it was not to be, for they don't make the Montello to fit me. I need a 61cm and they stop production at 57cm.

Donald said...

I'm like Chris... I would have to ride one and then hop on my bike and then others. Would I truly feel a difference? Maybe... but if I really like it then I need to find five grand.

James said...

I can't stand those Onda forks. Even worse was the extra curvy DeRosa Tango that came out a couple years ago. Both just look like flashy Italian styling to the extreme.

The Onda kind of reminds of the the fork I had on an old Raleigh in the 80s... after I smacked that bike into a curb one night.

Bluenoser said...

The rear stays I can live with but the look of the front end ruins it. The bike to me has to look good coming at you in a turn.

As far as the tech talk. Tomato Tomatoe.


Ron said...

Thank you all for your comments.

I think we can all agree that any perceived performance, goodness and beauty of the fork is solely rider based. There seems to be a sharp love/hate affair with this fork.