It’s time to travel again – from Australia to Europe for the start of a bike race, to see new cycling products, visit some companies associated with the bike trade, and to get a taste of what it’s like to ride in Italy…

#VisitItaly – Intro to a travel series, by Rob Arnold

The departure date was set and a week after finishing production of the Official Tour de France Guide (2024 Australian edition*) I packed my bags and prepared for a European adventure like I’ve not had before. The catalyst for my first trip to Europe in a while was the launch of a new bike by Pinarello, the Dogma F – the latest in a long line of top-end frames by the celebrated Italian brand.

It was a sensational launch with no expense spared: a stunning location in the Dolomites, fantastic lodgings high in the mountains, plenty of bikes for the considerable media turn-out, and a great insight into a company that needs little introduction to anyone who has followed cycling for over half a century.

One day to ride… and what a day it was! The Pinarello Dogma F was officially unveiled on 20 June 2024 and you’ll soon find more about the bike, and my experience of riding it on and the RIDE Media YouTube channel.)

A few company visits were also arranged in advance of my trip but once those commitments were complete my plans were fluid. Actually, to be honest, there was little planning involved. Instead of having a strict schedule the aim was to follow my instincts and let a second dose of summer for the year take care of the rest.

I left Australia on 9 June and have essentially been quiet online since getting on the flight. One of the reasons for the delay in uploading content is that there were some embargoes to respect – as is part of the cycling media game, certainly in 2024 and, more specifically, in June.

Some of the embargoes that relate to stories  I’ve been collecting in the last few weeks have ended and the product is now out there for the public to ride. This includes the customised 3D printed saddle program by fi:zi’k that was unveilled at that brand’s HQ, the Selle Royal factory near Pozzoleone after rolling down the mountain following the Pinarello launch. (Again, more on this when I catch up with some editing… both articles and videos.)

And, in the coming days, there is still more to be revealed by a few companies that asked that I sign NDAs before being shown what is soon due to hit the market – so, please stay tuned… there’s a lot yet to share but not enough time (yet) to prep all that I’d like to feature on this site.

The ’Adaptive’ saddle range from fi:zi’k was already good but, after years in the making, the brand that is part of the Selle Royal group has stepped things up a notch. The ‘One-To-One’ 3D printed saddle program includes a bike fitting session, mapping of where your pressure points on the seat are, and then a customised 3D printed saddle that suits your riding style. It’s early days of this revolutionary program and, for now, it is not available in Australian bike shops but there are plans to make this happen in the coming months.

Fausto Pinarello on the Dogma F – “Nice, unique and stylish”

The weeks leading up to the Tour de France have become a flurry of activity in the cycling trade and although the launch of new products has, in relative terms, been rather calm since the pandemic, in 2024 there’s a renewed sense of momentum.

The official release of the Dogma F frame earlier this month shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed pro cycling closely this year. The updated bike by Pinarello was seen on the roads of France during the Critérium du Dauphiné, raced by the Ineos Grenadiers team. And it won’t be long before you’ll see it in action again when the Tour de France rolls away from Florence this coming Saturday.

My first ride in Italy began in fine conditions but, after cresting the Passo Pordoi, it started to rain… then hail… but it was an absolute treat to be on the bike in the Dolomites. (Photo: courtesy of Pinarello)

As per usual, the launch explained how the bike is lighter, it’s more efficient, and… yep, the usual pitch that we have come to expect when something new is released. As you’ll soon see in an interview I did with the son of the company’s founder, Fausto Pinarello, there’s also something refreshing about the details of the Pinarello. Put simply, the quest of the brand is to make a bike that “looks like a Pinarello”.

Aesthetics matter and although the ride quality and science behind the new frame featured in the presentation, to Fausto it was also important that the bikes “look good’.

“Trust me,” said Pinarello, “it’s amazing.”

His was a simple statement at the end of a speech that was part of the presentation but he also wasn’t shy about his role with the company these days. Fausto started in the painting facility in the Treviso factory as a young man, but now he is the figurehead of Pinarello and he explains that his role has changed a lot since taking over from his father, Giovanni. “My job,” he stated, with a smile “is to sign the papers.”

Fausto still loves cycling. He still rides. And he still likes to highlight the obvious features of a new bike. In summary, he offered this about the Dogma F: “It’s faster, rideable, nice, unique, and stylish – that’s very important.” Again, stay tuned… more to come.

Note about expenses

Pinarello paid for my flight from Sydney as well as my accommodation for the two nights I stayed in the mountains. The company and its PR agency also covered costs for the transfer from Venice’s Marco Polo airport to the Dolomites and back down into the valley afterwards. Once the launch was complete, a factory visit was arranged and again I got two nights accomodation paid for… and then the costs for this journey were on the RIDE Media account. – Rob)

Inside fi:zi’k… comfort with green credentials

I have long been a fan of the fi:zi’k brand and it was a true treat to see inside the factory near Pozzoleone just to the north of Vicenza. Many stories beyond the custom 3D printed saddle program emerged from a day at the HQ of a company that, in 2024, boasts a variety of brands as part of its stable.

Selle Royal is the company that started it all and it remains one of the biggest producers of bicycle saddles in the world, with production at the Pozzoleone facility alone capable of a considerable daily output. Together with three other cycling media types, we got a grand tour of the factory floor after an overview of the new One-To-One program.

There is a considerable collection of colours and shapes in the fi:zi’k range and the new customised 3D-printed ‘One-To-One’ program is only part of a much larger story…

Saddles remain a focus and, when production is ramped up, the Pozzoleone factory is able to produce upwards of 25,000 bike seats per day! There are more shapes and sizes than you could possibly imagine and, at the top end of the scale is the fi:zi’k brand, now sponsors of a range of pro teams and high-profile athletes.

There is a lot to tell about this visit, including an overview of the company’s commitment to being as environmentally-friendly as possible. This, in my appraisal, is an impressive story. It may feature down low on the homepage but it should be one of the key selling points of the myriad brands under the Selle Royal banner.

Instead of trying to paraphrase, I’ll leave this story while I get stuck into editing some of the content collected in Pozzoleone. But I will say, don’t assume all the costs of a saddle come from marketing and marketing alone. There’s a lot at play here and the fi:zi’k story is something I’m intent on telling… when time permits.

Formalities out of the way, next: explore Italy!

Although it’s been over a week since the end of the official, pre-planned elements of my trip it’s been difficult to do everything I’d hoped to achieve. Writing and editing stories was delayed in preference of collecting content, filming, talking to some of my cycling associates, and – of course – going for a ride when the opportunity arrived.

Before leaving Australia there were a few offers of bikes to ride while I was in Europe but, as this is a busy time of the year for almost everyone in the trade, these fell through once I was on the ground with some time to spare. The Dogma F that I got to ride for one day was soon stripped of my pedals to be prepared for another launch, this time instead of the media it was Pinarello dealers who would be in Italy to learn more about the bike that is now available in shops globally.

During a slight pause from riding I got to catch up with Mick Rogers who, being the good bloke that he is, helped me adjust to some Italian ways. He retired from racing almost 10 years ago but remains active in cycling even after stepping down from his role with the UCI earlier this year.

He had family commitments so our catch-up was relatively brief and, alas, there wasn’t a chance to do a formal interview. All going well, I’ll soon see him again when we get to Florence for the TDF Grand Départ later this week.

In Mick’s shed there were a few bikes lying around… some from his racing days, others he picked up in the years since he was part of the pro peloton. He said I was welcome to take them for a ride… but the sizing didn’t match up. So the quest to find a bike continued for a few more days.

I’m pleased to say that eventually, with the help of Livelo Bike Rentals and Punto Tours, I would get a bike to ride for a few days after the first week in Italy. That story will be explained in part two of my #RideDiary from this visit to Italy. For now, I’ll sign off and say thanks to everyone who has been following the adventure so far and offering some comments and encouragement on RIDE Media’s Instagram and Facebook page.

It has been a whirlwind opening stanza to this trip and there is a lot more to say. So, once again, I’ll say: please stay tuned… and, of course, be sure to get your copy of the 22nd edition of the Tour Guide by RIDE Media and get ready for the Grand Départ that is only five days away.


To be continued…


– Rob 

*The ‘Tour Guide’ of 2024 is now available in newsagents around Australia.

Note: Unfortunately, the container carrying copies of the magazine to go on sale in NZ was not loaded onto the ship on the day that was promised by the freight company, and so the on-sale date we had planned has been pushed back. New Zealand readers can expect to see the magazine in shops from 4 July. – Rob