The new AC-R replaces the ACE, but sets out to be sportier. It takes its design cues from Colnago’s previous top-level monocoque frame, the M10. That means it eschews the current trend for all things sportive in favour of a much racier approach. It shares the M10’s geometry, and its monochrome finish even mimics the much pricier model.
- BUY IF… You want the full-fat Colnago experience but without the wallet-worrying price tag
Its black and white frame hides some quality features we’d expect from a classic marque like Colnago. The down tube is subtly triangulated and oversized to enhance stiffness. This melds into a large bottom bracket shell taking a Shimano Hollowtech bottom bracket.
The rear end is classic Colnago with both the chainstays and seatstays starting from wishbones. This effectively makes the rear end a one-piece structure, no doubt adding to the feel of solidity inherent in the AC-R’s ride. With a 181mm head tube, racy angles and a mid-to-tight wheelbase the AC-R sets itself out as a bike that’s more sport than sportive. It does have an endurance-friendly drivetrain, pairing a 50/34 chainset with a 12-28 cassette.
Its comfortable saddle and well-shaped Deda bar also give us the armoury required for a sportive-slaying special.
Colnago bikes, whatever their price, are defined by their long-standing geometry, and that gives the bikes a beautifully balanced ride. The straight-legged, sharp-angled fork makes for a swift response without dipping into twitchy nervousness. The result, when married to a taut-feeling rear end, is a bike that has stability at its core. This gave us huge amounts of confidence, making us push the Colnago that bit harder on descents and to get out of the saddle to sprint as often as we could.
The AC-R’s only drawbacks are from the Colnago-branded Artemis wheelset and the pad quality of the brakes. We have no qualms about the wheels’ construction quality, and we like the stiffness and their rim profile. But paired with middleweight rubber they’re carrying a little too much weight.
They’re no heavier than the Shimano or Fulcrum wheels we’d find on similarly priced bikes – it’s just that the AC-R feels so punchy and responsive that the heft of the hoops makes its presence known on longer ascents. When you’re braking, the hard waxy pads lack the bite of quality units, and changing them is a small upgrade we’d recommend. If ever a frame deserved better wheels and brakes it’s this.
Even as it stands the AC-R is the best base model bike Colnago has ever produced, and if you’ve always wanted to own a Colnago but couldn’t afford the ticket price, the AC-R might be just what you’ve been looking for.