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We love the look and ride of Colnago’s carbon-lugged C series frames, but these days you’re more likely to see the Colnago-sponsored UAE Team Emirates aboard the V3Rs, a monocoque frame aligned with modern trends toward a light, do-everything race bike with aero attributes.
A cursory glance of the V3Rs, the latest race bike from this icon of Italian bicycle design, reveals many ticked boxes on the checklist of what makes a modern race bike. Clean, internal cable routing (and no shifting cables at all for that matter thanks to wireless shifting)? Check. Larger tire clearance? Check. Truncated tube shapes and dropped seatstays? Check and check.
By utilizing a new type of carbon fiber, Colnago has managed to squeeze out 12-percent higher rigidity from the rear triangle, as well as a significant 6-percent higher rigidity in the head-tube area. At the same time, Colnago has also managed to build in more vertical compliance. All good things to report here.
And thanks to the new carbon layup, Colnago has shaved the frame weight down to 790 grams for a size 50s (with Colnago’s sloping geometry, this falls in the middle of the size range—pay attention to the geometry chart with this one). The fork, optimized to fit 28c tires and provide a more comfortable ride, has gone on a diet too, weighing in at 390 grams with an uncut steerer tube. Slam the stem on a size 50s frame and you can expect to cut an additional 50 grams. In total, our size 52s weighed 15.82 pounds (7.19 kilograms) without pedals or cages.
Colnago placed a large emphasis in the design process on the seat-post clamp, figuring it could cut weight here compared to its C64 and V2R models. As a result, the integrated seat-post-locking system has been shrunk—all the while offering a stronger clamping mechanism than before.
But the V3Rs is more than just a new carbon layup; Colnago has overhauled the geometry, too. The headtube has gotten shorter, while the fork has gotten longer. And the bottom-bracket drop has increased to maintain a high-level ride quality while accommodating wider 28c tires—though these days 28c is feeling more and more like a minimum benchmark to meet for clearance.
This top-of-the-line bike comes with a price tag to match. Our build, with SRAM Red eTap and Fulcrum 40 DB wheels, costs $11,099. And fear not, rim-brake diehards, there’s a version for you too.
Riding the V3Rs imparts a certain confidence. It’s a bit like a Leatherman—you always have the right tool for the job. Be it uphill or downhill, punchy rollers or consistent efforts on the flats, this bike can do it all.
The increased stiffness is readily apparent. Making the most of every watt, the bike feels alive with each pedal stroke, like it’s accelerating with every turn of the cranks. Take it up a local col and don’t be surprised to be rewarded with a new PR (true story). When you turn back around to descend, the V3Rs feels like a natural extension of your body, going exactly where you want it to. There’s never a sense of having to fight it. Just think about the line you want to take and it will happen. Despite the stiff ride, the V3Rs is also remarkably smooth. Even with just 25mm tires, it almost feels like you’re floating, hardly having to pay any attention to road imperfections.
Colnago won’t reveal any aero data on this bike, engendering a suspicion that it’s not the absolute fastest contender in the do-it-all race bike category. But in our real-world testing, it felt plenty quick and alive, its stiff-yet-plush ride encouraging ever deeper digging.
The only thing we can fault it on is its paint, or lack thereof. The orange-red paint is exquisite, but it’s limited to just a small portion of this bicycle, accenting the back of several tubes. There’s nothing wrong with a raw-carbon bike, but when the accent paint is this beautiful we want to see as much of it as we can.
Offering a beautifully polished package, with a composed ride quality, the V3Rs has carved out a well-earned position among the best race bikes in the world.
$11,099 (as built); 15.82 lbs / 7.19kg (size 52, sloping, w/o pedals or cages)
SRAM Red AXS eTap (10–33 cassette, 46/33 chainrings); Colnago carbon stem, handlebar and seat post; Prologo Scratch 2 saddle; Fulcrum Wind 40 DB wheels; Vittoria Corsa tires.