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Colnago V3Rs review

20 Jan 2020

Page 1 of 2Colnago V3Rs review


Colnago’s latest road racer is light, rigid, aerodynamic and handles with all the maturity of a classic Italian brand

Cyclist Rating: 
Aerodynamic, light and rigid frame makes for a racy ride, impressive 30mm tyre clearance, fantastic comfort
Expensive, but in line with the major competition

The Colnago V3Rs is the brand's latest road bike that balances between being a lightweight climber and aero race while also allowing 30mm tyres. Read Peter Stuart's review of this latest Italian all-rounder below.

Albert Einstein once said the measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Well, Italian brand Colnago seems to have taken note. In fact, despite the reverence it receives for its classic bikes, Colnago always has been an innovator, often trying new concepts ahead of the market.

It mastered carbon fibre earlier than most, and was an early adopter of disc brakes on road bikes. With that in mind, the V3Rs, the most distinctly modern bike in the Colnago stable, is an exciting prospect.

Fabricated, built and painted in the Far East, the V3Rs may lack the romance of the Italian-crafted C-Series, but that has its advantages. For one thing, the V3Rs frame is cheaper than the C64, but it is also substantially lighter, weighing only 790g for a size 50s (equivalent to a standard 54cm). That’s highly respectable for a disc-equipped race frame.

The V3Rs has also inherited some of the best features from across Colnago’s portfolio, notably the C64’s headset design. This uses an elastomer polymer to offer a small but detectable degree of compression and shock damping at the front.

A less exciting update is to the seatclamp, which does away with the fixed wedges used in the V2R and the C64, and instead uses a larger removeable wedge that increases the surface area of the clamp junction while reducing weight.

On the weight front, Colnago says the frame uses a higher grade of carbon that offers increased stiffness at a lower weight. As a result, the company claims, the frame is 12% stiffer at the rear and 6% stiffer at the head tube, all while increasing vertical compliance.

In fairness, that has become something of a cliché. Every new bike boasts ‘decreased lateral flex and increased vertical compliance’, but some of the updates on the V3Rs are genuinely noteworthy.

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £9,499

This includes the complete integration of the front cabling into the stem and handlebar – something that may be common on modern aero bikes but is less so on weight-conscious endurance road bikes, the S-Works Tarmac included.

For me, the most exciting change is around tyre clearance. The V3Rs can officially fit 30mm tyres, which means in practical terms that a 32mm tyre is probably possible, depending on the make of tyre. It’s the sort of versatility we wouldn’t have dreamed of with a bike this racy a few years ago.

Rather than simply expanding the tyre clearance without further consideration to the ride quality, Colnago has also adapted the geometry to suit 28mm tyres as a baseline. That includes a longer fork, which has a remodelled crown to accept wide tyres, alongside a lower bottom bracket.

At 72mm for a size 54s, the bottom bracket drop is not only lower than the likes of the Specialized Tarmac, but lower than the multi-road Open UP or GT Grade. A greater BB drop lowers your centre of gravity and so should make for a more stable ride but could slightly undermine pedal clearance – although I never noticed any evidence of this.

All too often the shape of a frame is based on long-established norms that few ever challenge, so it’s encouraging to see Colnago isn’t stuck in its ways. With such promising stats on stiffness and weight, and some curious digits on the geometry page, I was eager to let the V3Rs loose on the tarmac, and perhaps even a little gravel.

Version three

The V3Rs sets out its stall immediately on the road. The bike is fast. What’s more it feels fast. There’s something uniquely skilled about Italian bike builders in the way they create an exciting, animated and smooth ride quality that just makes a bike feel rapid. The same could be said of many Pinarellos or Wiliers, but the V3Rs really stands out.

On one of my first rides I was cruising along a long, flat stretch of road with the mildest of tailwinds. I found myself clicking down further and further through the cassette and watching the speed settle into the mid-40s, seemingly effortlessly. It was the sort of pure speed I haven’t experienced for some time.

The V3Rs hummed gently over the road, but with a high pitch that seemed to announce an impressive speed. It also contributed to the bike’s enigmatic attraction to other riders; I was asked a few times by passers-by about the bike, and many seemed awed by the V3Rs’s looks, despite what to me seemed like its relatively generic silhouette.

Given the deep-section wheels and general stiffness of the build, the scales surprised me when I weighed the V3Rs – 7.3kg is very trim for a disc brake bike with aero touches, and helped explain why the bike climbed so well.

In the early winter I found myself setting some of my best times on local climbs, with neither the weather nor my fitness suited to the task. Similarly, even in frosty conditions the V3Rs encouraged me to lean into corners on descents, and delivered sharp, accurate handling.

The V3Rs isn’t just about speed, though, and it feels a little more refined than the V2-r. Perhaps that’s down to the minute tweak of the headset that introduces a small degree of flex, or the minor changes to the geometry, but the frame mixes comfort with speed remarkably well.

I found myself happily bouncing over small potholes or road scarring. Of course, among all the tweaks to the frame, the option to fit 28mm or 30mm tyres has the most potential to hone comfort levels.

Expanding tyre clearances may seem like a minor design choice, but to me it says a lot. Pushing for 30mm clearance instead of the V2-r’s maximum of 28mm takes a fair bit of engineering and hassle, but the payoff is a bike that really takes advantage of the potential of disc brakes. The key takeaway for me was that Colnago has really looked at how disc brakes could improve the design, rather than slapping them on to appease marketing trends.

The V3Rs really is a jack of all trades. Riding it uphill I felt like I was on a svelte, lightweight rim brake climber; on gravel I felt that I was aboard a versatile all-road racer; and on long flats it felt as though I was hammering along on a bulky aero beast. And all this while being emblazoned with the logo of an historic Italian bike-building master.

I really struggled to fault the V3Rs. While I could exhaust myself with comparisons to an S-Works Venge or Cannondale SuperSix, it’s easier just to say that the V3Rs is an excellent bike – every bit as good as I could ever need it to be.

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £9,499


Frame Colnago V3Rs
Groupset Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Brakes Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Chainset Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Cassette Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Bars Colnago R41 Carbon  
Stem Colnago SR9 Integrated
Seatpost Colnago Aero Carbon
Saddle Prologo x Colnago Scratch 2 CPC PAS Tirox
Wheels Vision Metron Carbon 55 SL, Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance TLR 25mm tyres
Weight 7.3kg (size 54s)

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£7,995.95 (£3,999 frameset)

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Page 1 of 2Colnago V3Rs review