With the presentation of the V3Rs, Colnago reveal the third generation of the aero-optimised monocoque road bike that ushered in a new era for them in 2014 with the release of the V1-R, designed in collaboration with Ferrari. What is Colnago’s new race bike capable of? We took the V3Rs to the dusty roads of the Strade Bianche to put it through its paces.

You don’t hesitate when Ernesto Colnago personally invites you to a bike launch in the Tuscan hills. With the V3Rs, Colnago present the third generation of the race bike they originally developed with the help Ferrari’s aerodynamics and carbon know-how.

Colnago V3Rs | Frame set only | € 4,350 (disc frame kit), € 3,990 (caliper)

What’s new about the V3Rs? As Ernesto Colnago proudly stated, the V3Rs is not an evolution of the V-2R but was developed from the ground up instead. Lighter, stiffer, more compliance and more tire clearance. These are the key facts of the new high-performance, monocoque carbon road bike. With a long list of new features and improvements, the V3Rs promises to be a do-it-all road bike: according to Colnago, you could even ride gravel roads and the Strade Bianche.

The concept behind the V3Rs

Lighter: thanks to the use of new high-end carbon fibres, the size 50 disc frame comes to just 790 g, including all metal hardware. As a comparison: the first generation monocoque V-1R frame came to a total of 835 g, and that was the rim-brake version. The newly developed disc fork has also slimmed down compared to the V-2R, now coming in at 340 g with the steerer tube cut down to a size 50 frame.

Stiffer: despite the significant reduction in weight, the new V3Rs is claimed to be 12% stiffer at the rear and 6% stiffer at the front, thanks to the high-grade carbon fibres and design optimisations. And all that with improved compliance, giving you marginal gains in every respect.

More compliance: both the newly developed frame with the dropped seat stays and the carbon-reinforced headset cups supposedly add a significant amount of compliance. You’ll be familiar with the latter from Colnago’s thoroughbred aero-bike, the Colnago Concept.

More tire clearance: with room for up to 30 mm wide tires, Colnago is on-trend, giving the V3Rs significantly more reserves for rough asphalt or the occasional gravel road.

Updated geometry: if you fit 30 mm tires, the bike’s centre of gravity moves upwards, which has a negative effect on the handling. To counteract this, the bottom bracket has been dropped by 2-3 mm, depending on the frame size. The V3Rs is available in eight sizes (from 42 to 58) and thanks to size-specific geometry, everyone should be guaranteed to have a good time on the bike.

New cockpit: the cockpit of the V3R has been completely redesigned, offering internal cable routing for the disc brake model throughout. The brake lines are routed through the stem and inside through the carbon fork. The cables for the electronic drivetrain are also routed internally through the frame. Only those who prefer mechanical drivetrains will have to live with short bits of exposed cable before they enter the down tube. This gives the V3Rs a clean look and also offers significant aerodynamic advantages. For the cockpit, Colnago deliberately refrained from using a one-piece stem and handlebar combination. The separate stem allows you to adjust the handlebar to your liking or to fit a different handlebar entirely.

New seat clamp: integrated seat clamps can be a real nuisance. Either they’re difficult to reach or they don’t clamp the seat post tight enough. Colnago have redesigned the seat clamp, offering improved clamping force and easy access, which they’ve integrated beautifully – right behind Ernesto Colnago’s signature.

The models of the Colnago V3Rs

It should be noted here that Colnago is offering two different models: the flagship V3Rs and the more affordable V3 model. Both the V3Rs and the V3 are available in disc and rim brake versions and Colnago are selling them as framesets only. The cable inlets in the down tube of the frame will accommodate mechanical as well as electronic drivetrains.
The basic difference between the two models is the grade of the carbon fibres they’re constructed from. According to Colnago, only the finest materials are used on the V3Rs, making the frameset a whole 200 g lighter than the V3.

The spec of our test bike

Drivetrain Campagnolo Super Record EPS 2×12, 52–36T
Cassette Campagnolo Super Record 11–29T
Brakes Campagnolo Super Record 160/140 mm
Wheels Campagnolo Bora WTO 60 disc carbon
Tires Pirelli P ZERO Velo, 700 x 28C
Seat post Colnago V3Rs, 20 mm offset
Handlebar Colnago R41 Carbon
Stem Colnago Sr9, 110 mm
Size 42, 45, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58; Test bike 56
Color Nero Arancio
Availability from today
Price € 4,350 (disc frame kit), € 3,990 (caliper)

In terms of geometry, both models are identical. Apart from the paint-job, you won’t see any difference with the naked eye. Only visible difference is the stem as only the flagship model V3Rs comes with the new stem with integrated cable routing.

Size 42s 45s 48s 50s 52s 54s 56s 58s
Seat tube 420 mm 450 mm 480 mm 500 mm 520 mm 540 mm 560 mm 580 mm
Top tube 491 mm 500 mm 518 mm 526 mm 537 mm 547 mm 565 mm 577 mm
Head tube 124 mm 125 mm 127 mm 145 mm 163 mm 180 mm 187 mm 204 mm
Head angle 70.6° 71.0° 71.5° 71.6° 71.9° 72.5° 72.9° 73.1°
Seat angle 75.5° 75.0° 74.5° 74.0° 73.6° 73.1° 73.0° 73.0°
Chainstay 408 mm 408 mm 408 mm 410 mm 410 mm 414 mm 414 mm 414 mm
BB Height 67 mm 70 mm 71 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm
Reach 368 mm 375 mm 380 mm 382 mm 384 mm 390 mm 400 mm 408 mm
Stack 514 mm 520 mm 525 mm 542 mm 560 mm 578 mm 586 mm 604 mm

Here are all available models at a glance. The componentry only serves an example seeing as Colnago won’t be selling complete builds.

Riding the Colnago V3Rs

You could hardly imagine a better place to set off from than Paolo Bianchini’s vineyard in the heart of Tuscany, a longtime friend of Ernesto Colnago’s. Our test bike came built up with the new 12 speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS Disc groupset and Campagnolo Bora WTO 60 Disc wheels, fitted with 28 mm Pirelli P ZERO Velo tires. Keeping the weight to a minimum were tubolito tubes, which weigh only 38 g.

Both the comfort and the off-road capabilities of the V3Rs were put to the test from the start as we headed down the white Tuscan gravel roads – and it passed with flying colours. The ample compliance at the rear combined with the wide and comfortable Pirelli P ZERO Velo tires proved to be a lot of fun. The V3Rs accelerates incredibly well from a standstill: thanks to the stiff bottom bracket, every little bit of power on the pedals is transferred directly into acceleration. It climbs very efficiently too, and together with its minimal weight, conquering long climbs is an absolute joy. Whether you’re sitting down or standing on the pedals – the V3Rs is efficient, agile and fast.

The efficiency of the V3Rs is evident from the first sprint and the new cockpit doesn’t yield no matter how hard you pull on it – perfect for sprinting! It also makes the handling of the V3Rs extremely direct and precise, though the front end is somewhat harsh as a result. The vibration damping of the frame is able to absorb smaller irregularities in the asphalt, making for a pleasant ride. However, the front end does pass bigger hits on to the rider and you should be sure to have a firm grip on the handlebar. You have to keep in mind here that we were running 28 mm tires. If you want more comfort, the generous clearance of the frame will allow you to fit bigger volume tires.

The 12-speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset as well as the Campagnolo Bora WTO 60 Disc wheelset performed flawlessly and suit the race character of the V3Rs perfectly: quick shifting – which you have to do a lot of in the hills of Tuscany – and excellent braking power. The Aero Bora WTO wheelset is well suited to the aerodynamic concept of the V3Rs: aerodynamic optimisation and race level weight. Stronger winds tend to push the 60 mm deep rims around a bit, but thanks to the balanced and evenly distributed weight you’re easily able to keep everything under control.

The V3Rs is a thoroughbred race bike with excellent climbing characteristics, and thanks to its generous tire clearance you’ll even be able to ride the classics like Paris-Roubaix or the Strade Bianche. We’re excited to see the pro’s ride it at the Vuelta a Españia.

Conclusion

With clearance for up to 30 mm wide tires, the light-weight, aerodynamically optimised monocoque frame offers a high level of compliance, making the Colnago V3Rs a great do-it-all race bike. Whether on fast descents, in climbing mode or on gravel roads, the V3Rs convinced us with its efficiency, precise handling and good all-road capabilities. The front end is a little bit harsh, but it suits the bike’s race character. For added comfort, simply fit a set of 30 mm tires such as the Vittoria Corsa. If you’re after a race bike with off road capabilities, the Colnago V3Rs is the bike for you.


More information about the V3Rs and the V3 can be found on the Colnago Website.

Post-ride lunch at the Ciacci Piccolomini vineyard: the finest Brunello paired with Tuscan specialities. We say, “salute!” and enjoy the magnificent view. After a quick detour through Paolo Bianchini’s personal bike museum, it’s time for an espresso and a shot of Grappa to finish off. Here’s to Ernesto Colnago, “Cin Cin!” That he may achieve his goal of growing to be 100 years old. Grazie mille, Ernesto!

Words: Manuel Buck Photos: Manu Buck, Colnago