Colnago V3Rs first ride review

V2-R successor is lighter and stiffer, and also rather similar to the competition

GBP £3,999.95
Frameset only
Colnago V3Rs

The V3Rs is Colnago’s newest, top-end monocoque race bike, the lightweight alternative to the pure-aero Concept and a more conventional machine than the lugged carbon C64.

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I had the chance to ride the disc version of the new bike at its launch in sun-soaked Tuscany and it’s a true superbike, albeit one that does little to differentiate itself from the competition.

Colnago V3Rs highlights

  • All-new carbon frameset with dropped seatstays and aero tube profiles
  • 790g claimed frame weight (size 50 sloping, unpainted)
  • Clearance for at least 30mm tyres
  • Disc brakes and thru-axles
  • Hidden cables and hoses, with routing through bar and stem

Colnago V3Rs spec as tested

  • Weight: 7.05kg without pedals (unverified)
  • Frame: V3Rs carbon
  • Fork: V3Rs disc, 12mm thru-axle
  • Seatpost: Carbon V3Rs specific
  • Handlebar: Colnago carbon with internal routing
  • Stem: Colnago Sr9 alloy with internal routing
  • Levers: Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12×2
  • Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12×2
  • Brakes: Campagnolo Super Record hydraulic disc
  • Cranks: Campagnolo Super Record 52/36t 12×2
  • Cassette: Campagnolo Super Record 12×2, 11-27t
  • Chain: Campagnolo Record
  • Wheels: Campagnolo Bora WTO 45 clincher
  • Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Velo 28mm
  • Saddle: Colnago (Prologo) Scratch

Colnago’s most conventional superbike to date?

Road bike resting against wall
Colnago laid on test bikes with a truly luxurious spec.
Nicola Vettorello / Colnago

The convergence in modern road bike design has been a popular topic of late and it’s impossible not to notice how similar the V3Rs looks to the competition, with its truncated aerofoils and dropped seatstays.

It’s a handsome machine all the same, with the sort of lovely detailing you’d expect from a pricey Italian bike, even one that’s not actually made in Italy.

As we covered in the launch story, Colnago claims the new bike is stiffer, lighter and more comfortable, and it features refinements such as an updated seat clamp design and cleaner cable and hose routing.

Colnago V3Rs build

Expensive Italian bikes tend to be launched with expensive Italian components, and the V3Rs was presented with a full Campagnolo Super Record EPS disc groupset — a set of components so eye-wateringly expensive that you’ll cry your contact lenses out.

The wheels are Campagnolo too; the carbon fibre Bora WTO 45 clinchers fitted with 28mm Pirelli tyres. This is the latest, tubeless-ready incarnation of the Bora and it features a fairly blunt rim section with an internal width of 19mm — hardly extreme by today’s standards, but usefully wider than more traditional designs.

The wider tyres are significant here — Colnago says the bike will take 30s officially and 32s unofficially, a sign of the times when once upon a time a new lightweight racer would have been launched with slender 23s pumped up to 120psi.

The V3Rs’ cockpit and seatpost are Colnago’s own, the latter matching the seat tube’s truncated aerofoil cross-section, with a neat red highlight set in relief. 

Tidy cable routing was a priority for Colnago, and the hoses and wires (in the case of this bike with electronic shifting) are all but completely hidden. From the saddle, they’re completely invisible, reinforcing the feeling that you’re riding something slick and modern. 

Having previously opted for a size 50s Colnago, I requested a 52s this time around for a less aggressive fit, resulting in just 2mm more reach but 18mm more stack.

This worked out well as a strategy but I should have specified narrower bars and a shorter stem because Colnago opted to fit a rather roomier cockpit than I’d have liked. 

The ride: surprisingly comfortable, beautifully composed

Cyclists on gravelled white road
Tuscany’s white roads are stunningly pretty and incredibly hot on a sunny day.
Nicola Vettorello / Colnago

Our ride began on some actual strade bianche, the white gravelled roads that criss-cross the Tuscan countryside. 

It was immediately apparent that the claims of increased comfort levels over the V2-R were valid, although it’s difficult to say how much of that was down to the frame and how much was the choice of bigger tyres. 

The V3Rs still wouldn’t be my first choice for bouncing along washboard gravel, but it acquitted itself well — an encouraging start. 

On tarmac, the Colnago is truly a smooth and composed ride. Tuscany’s roads are beautiful but they’re also pretty awful in places with sections of rippled tarmac, presumably due to subsidence, regularly appearing in front of you as you round a bend. 

The V3Rs doesn’t rattle over these like an old-school Euro racer, instead tracking precisely without drama. 

It was a gusty day and I did find myself wishing for a shallower front wheel as the wind tugged at me through sweeping bends on a fast descent.

Saying that, the Bora’s cross-section is fairly predictable in side-winds, producing a weather-vaning sensation along the whole bike rather than simply snatching at the leading edge of the front rim. 

It almost goes without saying that a bike like this climbs well. Even with moderately deep wheels it’s a light machine at a hair over 7kg, and it’s as stiff as you’d expect a mind-bendingly expensive carbon bike to be. 

Colnago V3Rs hot weather
It’s a given that a bike of this calibre climbs well.
Nicola Vettorello / Colnago

Incidentally, this was my first time on Campagnolo’s new Super Record EPS 12-speed disc groupset and overall I was impressed. Shifting feels as effortless as you’d hope and the braking is extremely predictable, with a curious but not offensive soundtrack that puts me in mind of buzzing cicadas. 

In the latter part of my test ride I experienced some front derailleur rub in my lower gear combination, but that’s almost certainly just a minor setup issue. Another thing I noticed was that Campagnolo’s shiny brake hoods become slippery when they’re lathered in sweat.

In a similar vein, Colnago’s rather elegant carbon bar was like the proverbial greasy pole across the tops when I was done with it — I’d wrap more of the bar even if it does mean hiding that lovely carbon.

In all, the V3Rs is a delight on the road. After one ride I can’t pass final judgment but I can safely say that it’s deserving of superbike status.

At the same time, the complete package doesn’t differ radically from that offered by Colnago’s rivals and, of course, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of owning a frame bearing such a storied name. 

Colnago V3Rs early verdict

What the bike lacks in distinctiveness is more than made up for by its outstanding ride quality. Buying a bike like this is still an emotional decision given the more affordable alternatives with similar features, but riders who choose the V3Rs over its rivals aren’t going to be short-changed on performance at least.

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Colnago V3Rs pricing and availibility

The disc-equipped V3Rs frameset costs £3,999.95 and will be available from August 2019. As tested, you’d be looking at well over £10,000 for a complete bike.