The name Colnago is as Italian as Ferrari, Gucci and Martini and has built a reputation over the last 65 years for creating hand crafted frames and stunning paint schemes for some of the sport’s biggest stars. For many though owning a Colnago, due to their premium price tag, is an unobtainable dream.
Many have long dismissed Colnago as a brand for only those with sizeable bank balances and in some cases up to now that was the case. Colnago, eager to change this preconception, have created the C-RS to provide the customer with the same panache and prestige as found in their flagship C60, V1-R and Concept frames but at a more affordable price. Keen to see if the Italian brand’s new frameset warrants the famous Colnago headbadge I set off to test the C-RS.
First impressions were good, aesthetically this is a sharp looking frameset. Built up to test in Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed regalia, the test bike featured Deda Elementi handlebars, a Colnago branded Selle Italia saddle, Vision Trimax wheels and Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyres.
A black and white matte paint scheme and distinguishable Colnago graphics made this mid-priced carbon fibre frameset look like a much more expensive proposition and during two weeks of testing I wasn’t the only one with this view, as I also had many positive comments from fellow riders about the frameset’s sharp looks.
It may look the part but how does it ride? I normally ride a Colnago M10, which is a 48cm sloping size, I am 172cm tall. It is worth noting Colnago sizing comes up 4 centimetres larger than brands such as Specialized or Scott, so if you ride a 56cm Specialized, we would recommend you opt for a 52cm Colnago.
Another area worth considering is the height of the headtube. To compensate for my long arms and aggressive riding position I swapped the Deda stem for a -17 degree 3T stem.
Position dialled it was time to hit the road. The UK Colnago supplier had fitted a FSA PowerBox Alloy Road ABS Power Meter Chainset to the C-RS, a welcome touch, which allowed me to continue training with power while testing the bike and being an Italian brand, was in keeping with the bike.
Setting off on the first ride and I found the C-RS accelerated off the blocks well, helped no doubt by stiffness of the oversized PressFit bottom bracket. One area I have found Colnago’s have always excelled at is handling. The C-RS was no different. The straight bladed, tapered, carbon monocoque fork is light and made the bike feel agile and confident in the corners.
The previous Colnago I had tested, the V1-R, had come with its own specially designed seatpost. This ensures continuity is maintained, although limits you on seatpost choice. I was, therefore, pleased to find the C-RS was supplied with a traditional 27.2mm seatpost.
Keeping drag to a minimum, Colnago has positioned the seat collar on the upper side of the top tube. They have done this to protect it from dirt and improve aesthetics. Although I agree this ensures the C-RS’ flowing lines are not interrupted, I found the positioning of the collar was slightly tricky to access, especially with a multi tool. It is also worth noting, the seat collar is fastened using a Torx bolt..
Further enhancing the bike’s sleek appearance, the CR-S has internal cable routing, a testament to Colnago’s cutting edge outlook on frame design.
Keen to test the bike over some hillier terrain, I packed up the car and headed down to Dorset, the perfect testing ground, with short sharp climbs, rough terrain and exposed windy roads.
The Purbecks, a hilly range of narrow lanes on the south coast, west of Bournemouth, allowed me to address all the elements on the bike.
Descending fast down a steep 12% hill, the twisty road’s off camber nature was no issue for the C-RS. It tracked well in the corners, getting me to the bottom of the descent safely and without any edge of the saddle moments.
The main downside I did find on faster roads was the work needed to maintain speed. This could have been down to the Hutchinson tyre and Vision wheel pairing. Swapping for a set of super lightweight or aerodynamic carbon fibre wheels would be a beneficial upgrade, especially if you plan to use this bike for racing.
Colnago’s aren’t known for their lightweight characteristics and personally, I find a slightly heavier bike often handles better, with more predictability. I have never found comfort to be an issue when it comes to Colnagos and the C-RS continued this trend of silky smooth comfort, taking potholes and Dorset’s rural lanes in its stride.
Some may turn their noses up that a Shimano Ultegra groupset, a distinctly non-Italian brand, adorns this bike. Although not a traditional pairing, I found it worked sublimely with the frame, offering sharp, smooth and reliable shifting. The brakes were powerful and left me in full control.
The Hutchinson Fusion 5 Clincher Tyres, although not the fastest, were dependable, gripped well and seemed to stand up well to being ridden over the rough Dorset roads.
After a tough couple of weeks riding the C-RS I was suitably impressed. No, it’s not the lightest frame out there but for handling, aesthetics and ride quality it really is hard to beat at this price.
- Stiff frameset
- Direct and stable when cornering
- Stylish paint scheme
- Traditional seatpost diameter ensures compatibility with a wide range of posts
- Seatclamp position may prove fiddly for some
- Not the lightest frameset at this price range