When you think of iconic Italian brands; Gucci, Ferrari and Prada may all spring to mind, for cyclists the name Colnago should also be added to that list.
Ernesto Colnago has a long and illustrious history producing some of the world’s most sought after bikes and frames, supplying giants of the sport, such as the Milram team and five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx.
A brand steeped in tradition, Colnagos are respected for their assured handling, stunning looks and exquisite paint schemes.
First exploring the carbon fibre monocoque world with their M10, the Italian experts have now refined this design, launching their latest, high-performance machine, the V1-R and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on it to test!
Owning a Colnago M10, I was intrigued to see how the V1-R compared. Before getting on the saddle I had to determine my frame size. I was aware that the V1-R had the same sloping geometry as my M10 and also, compared to other bike brands, came up around 4cm larger. For example, if you normally ride a 52cm Specialized, you would need a 48cm Colnago.
Frame size sorted, my silver bullet arrived and what a machine it was! In a beautiful silver paint scheme - or as Colnago refer to it as 'UNSL' - the V1-R was finished with FSA components and a Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed groupset.
Setting the bike up, I switched to a -17 degree stem to accommodate the V1-R’s slightly tall headtube. Getting the saddle to the correct height was simple with the clearly marked V1-R specific seatpost. This post matched the frame’s gloss silver paint scheme perfectly and was shaped to optimise aerodynamics.
Speed is the name of the game with this bike, and the inclusion of Ferrari’s Cavallino logo reminds you that this bike has been developed with the help of the supercar and F1 experts.
Ferrari have used their extensive knowledge to assist in producing a frame that is as fast in the wind tunnel as it is out on the road. Each tube is shaped specifically to cut through the wind with ease, yet also provide the rider with a comfortable and responsive ride.
My bike was specced for the rider who wanted to own a Colnago but did not want to blow their budget, coming in at £3,995.
To get it under the £4000 mark, they have added a FSA Gossamer chainset, as opposed to an Ultegra one. Although maybe not so visually appealing, the semi-compact 52/36 tooth chainrings provided me with all I needed to tackle even the most challenging of terrain.
The saddle maintains the Italian theme. Prologo’s Kappa Evo is a mid priced saddle and definitely looked the part on the bike. I found it to be supportive, if a little hard but I did like the shape, which enabled me to move around on it depending if I was climbing or riding on the flat.
The handlebars were aluminium FSA offerings and provided me with a wide range of hand positions.
Supplied with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset, this was precise and easy to operate. The frame’s internal cable routing meant the V1-R’s sleak lines were maintained. Colnago have also added electronic routing options for those looking to use Di2 or EPS.
Colnago may be one of cycling’s most established and traditional bike manufacturers but they have pulled out all the stops when it comes to innovation with the V1-R. Taking a closer look at the fork and the integrated, direct mount front brake sits neatly in a specially designed recess. Out on the road I found the direct mount option to offer excellent, assured braking both in the wet and the dry.
Moving underneath, Colnago have positioned the rear brake under the bottom bracket, rear triangle area. This gives the bike an uncluttered look and also improves aerodynamics. Moving the brake from the more traditional position did not seem to affect performance, although from a practical point of view I was slightly worried it would be more vulnerable and would be prone to picking up more dirt and grime.
Supplied with Vision Tri Max 30 alloy wheels, they felt responsive and light, with 23 millimetre Continental GP4000 tyres offering excellent grip and puncture resistance. For another review I was testing the Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon SL Clincher Wheelset, so these were swapped onto the bike before I set off for a big week out in Majorca.
Straight into the mountains and from the first climb I could feel this bike meant business. The V1r is designed to be light and stiff and it did not disappoint. As I got out of the saddle I found the power I put through the pedals went directly into the frame. This was in no small part due to the new Threadfit 82.5 bottom bracket, adding stiffness and in turn making for a very responsive ride.
While descending, as with the M10, the V1-R felt like it was on rails- confident, direct and most importantly comfortable. I found I could make minute adjustments to my trajectory and the bike would simply act accordingly, without fuss or edge of your saddle moments.
The monocoque frameset came into its own over some of Majorca's more rural roads, soaking up even the biggest of holes and providing me with a comfortable ride.
For racing this bike would be ideal, but for me the big test would be to see how it coped when it came to all day endurance riding or sportives. I had a lap of Majorca planned and at over 300 kilometres, this was going to be a perfect test for comfort.
10 hours, close to 4000 metres of climbing and 305 kilometres later- I was impressed! It felt light and agile in the mountains, fast on the coast roads and stable in the crosswinds. Most importantly it delivered me back to my hotel in comfort, if not a little tired from a big day on two wheels.
I have ridden many bikes but none have received such admiring looks as the V1-R. It really is a head-turner. Whether it’s the innovative design or the eye-catching paint scheme, the bike punches above its price tag when it comes to looks.
Performance wise and I cannot fault it. It felt fast and agile on the flat, but did not feel as twitchy as some performance bikes. The handling was supreme both when cruising along or on high speed, technical descents.
For traditionalists the integrated brake setup and aero enhanced monocoque design may not be for you but for those looking for a cutting edge race-ready bike that you can clock up the kilometres in comfort on, you really can’t go wrong with the V1-R.
To summarise, the pros and cons are:
Corners like it's on rails
Exceptionally fast, stiff and comfortable
High quality paint scheme
Versatile cable routing
Direct mount brakes may not suit the traditional Colnago fan
For more information on this bike and to place an order please contact us.