Built for pros, but with plenty to offer everyone
Words SAM CHALLIS
Colnago has been popping up in Cyclist a lot recently, which is a reflection of just how busy the Italian brand has been over the last year or so.
Its C-Series has not only received an update (see last issue’s review) but sprouted two new models, and the brand has just revised its racy V-Series too.
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar rode the previous model, the V3Rs, to victory at two Tours de France, but Colnago says changes in the composite fabrication mean the V4Rs is even stiffer, stronger, faster and a touch lighter too.
In comparison to the C-Series’ distinctive modular construction, V-Series bikes are more conventional, being made in monocoque fashion, where the frame is fabricated in a mould as one piece.
‘With monocoque we can achieve the best stiffness-to-weight ratio,’ says head of research and development Davide Fumagalli. ‘The V4Rs is designed primarily for pro riders.’ That doesn’t mean only pros will appreciate it, however.
My experience of the V4Rs convinced me the bike has a lot to offer everyday riders too.
If you have to ask…
Bikes that take you into the five-figure price range are becoming scarily familiar, and a convergence of design and looks means the differences between bikes at the top end are becoming harder to spot.
Now more than ever, the devil is in the detail, so I’ll admit to being a little let down by some of the V4Rs’s finer touches. The brushed chrome decals look slick, but are merely stickers. At this rarefied level of the market, they should be part of the paintjob.
The seatpost clamp cover, rather than nestling flush against the top tube, sits awkwardly and isn’t easy to remove. The thru-axle nuts are workmanlike too; Cannondale’s new SuperSix and several BMCs use captive threads, which give the driveside fork tip and rear dropout much cleaner finishes.
It’s a shame because in other areas the V4Rs displays plenty of finesse: the down tube bottle cage sits in a recess that shrouds it from the wind; the top headset bearing is CeramicSpeed’s SLT design, so its promise of a dramatically extended service life is a boon given the brake hoses are routed through it; the front derailleur hanger is made from 3D printed titanium, providing a solid but light anchor from which to shift; and although the CC.01 integrated cockpit is excellent (being stiff but nicely shaped), the fork steerer is round, so switching to a normal two-piece front end would be simple.
Despite my nitpicking, I must admit the more general performance characteristics are resoundingly successful.
The light weight and stiffness of the bike’s monocoque construction lets it hustle up climbs, while assured handling means going down the other side of those climbs is a stable, confident joy.
The bike retains some idiosyncratic features from its forebear, such as a longer than average trail figure inspired by its C-Series sibling, but Colnago has taken other parts of the V3Rs and given them a tweak.
The back end of the V4Rs is tighter by a few millimetres, the seat tube steeper and the reach longer, which pushes the rider’s weight further forward. Cyclist’s recent review of the C68 suggested it was suited to long, fast mountain descents, and I would say it’s the same story with the V4Rs.
All that is balanced with a perfectly pitched level of comfort. Different brands adopt different strategies when it comes to balancing the need for stiffness and aerodynamics with the desire for compliance, with the likes of the Trek Madone and Factor O2 VAM employing extreme frame architecture to add flex.
Others, such as Scott’s Foil or the Ventum NS1, almost disregard achieving it in the frameset, relying on flexible bars and seatposts. Colnago has taken the more traditional route of tuning things holistically.
There are no wacky frame shapes here, the cockpit isn’t noticeably flexible and the seatpost doesn’t use a slim cross-section.
Nothing in particular is responsible for the V4Rs’s ability to filter out the road’s imperfections, but rather all parts of the design play a small part, which become significant when taken together.
The polished ride quality just seems to come from good old-fashioned composite engineering.
It exemplifies Colnago’s experience and validates the brand’s unusual final development stage for this bike, where it got UAE Team Emirates to actually race on five different prototipos to decide on the final carbon layup.
It goes to show that, despite Colnago’s heritage, it isn’t afraid to try something new to keep making better bikes.
Model Colnago V4Rs
Price $7,699 (frameset only)
Weight 7.2kg (size 530, as tested)
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Wheels Fulcrum Wind 40 DB
Finishing kit Colnago CC.01 bar / stem, Colnago V4Rs Carbon seatpost, Prologo Scratch M5 Nack saddle, Pirelli P Zero Race 28mm tyres
- he D-shaped seatpost is chunky by modern standards but still comfortable
- The headset top cap hides a multitool housed in an aluminium sleeve inside the steerer. It’s neat, but the usefulness of the tiny tool is up for debate
- The CC.01 bars have a long reach, which adds to the frame’s already lengthy reach for a stretched-out ride position