A whole lot has been said and written about the Colnago V4Rs over the past few days, including suggestions that it’s not as quick as models from rival brands, but the bike had the last laugh at the weekend when Tadej Pogacar rode it to victory in Paris-Nice.
All pics: © ASO-Aurelien Vialatte
Okay, a quick potted history for those who haven’t been taking notes:
Tadej Pogacar and other members of UAE Team Emirates raced the Colnago V4Rs for much of last season, although it was just referred to as the ‘Prototipo’ (Prototype) at the time.
In December, Colnago officially launched the V4Rs, saying it was the brand’s ‘fastest monocoque frame ever’.
Then last week, former Belgian pro Dirk De Wolf, winner of Liège–Bastogne–Liège back in 1992, was quoted as saying, “If Tadej Pogacar gets on a bicycle from Jumbo-Visma, Ineos or Soudal-Quick Step tomorrow, the rest will have no chance. On those bikes he will pedal another 2km/h faster.”
Dirk De Wolf didn’t mention the Colnago V4Rs by name, but it’s the bike that Pogacar has been mostly riding over recent months.
Former world champion, multiple classics winner and all-round cycling superstar Tom Boonen said, “Colnago did indeed have a dip a while ago. It remains a bit of an old-school bike now and they haven't quite mastered the aero thing yet although they are now catching up.”
That softened it a bit... but not much. The Italian brand invited Boonen and De Wolf to its headquarters to test-ride the V4Rs and to engage in a “public conversation” about the data used by De Wolf to come to his conclusion that the V4Rs is substantially slower than its rivals.
Then, at the weekend, Boonen said he has “nothing but respect for the Colnago family and their brand” and apologised for his “poorly chosen” words about Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates team bike, so everyone is friends again.
Does De Wolf have anything to back up his 2km/h claim? Doubtful. It’s probably just a bit of hyperbole chucked around on a podcast. It was all a bit of a storm in an espresso cup for the brand based just outside Milan.
As for the Colnago V4Rs, we’ve not reviewed it here at road.cc, although we have one on the way.
“The V4Rs has been designed as an integrated system – as a complete bicycle in a “ready-to-race” configuration,” says Colnago. “The technical work focused on reducing the impact of the frontal area, basically the head tube, and the consequent better integration with the fork crown.
“While being compatible with third-party components, V4Rs has been conceived to offer the best aerodynamic performance in combination with the Colnago CC.01 handlebar which is also enriched with a 3D printed support, currently compatible with Wahoo Bolt V2, able to guarantee a further saving of 0.75 watts at 50km/h [31mph].”
The fork takes tyres up to 32mm wide. Although the upper headset bearing is larger than that of the Colnago’s previous V3Rs, allowing the cables to run internally without the need for a D-shaped steerer tube, the overall shape is said to offer lower drag.
Using a weighted average drag (the sum of the power at different yaw angles, weighted by the probability of occurring in such a condition), Colnago says that with the same wheels fitted and using a head unit and support, the V4Rs will save the equivalent of 17.5 watts over the V3Rs at a speed of 50km/h (31mph) and a rider cadence of 90rpm.
Colnago says it has reduced the weight of the overall module (frame, fork, headset and handlebar) by 47g compared with the V3Rs (with Colnago Sr9 stem and Colnago Hbr41 handlebar + headset) – down from 1,715g to 1,668g (comparing a size 48.5 V4Rs with a 50 V3Rs).
The frame weight has increased slightly from 795g to 798g but that’s more than offset by a decrease in fork weight from 390g to 375g.
According to Colnago’s own stiffness tests, the V4Rs is 4% stiffer than the V3Rs in the sprint position and 5% stiffer in the seated position.
“This result has been achieved thanks to the innovative carbon fibre lamination featured on the V4Rs,” says Colnago.
The brand says that it tried out many different carbon layups but gave the final decision to the team riders once they’d ridden the prototypes in the 2022 Tour de France.
Colnago has also been keen to emphasise the robustness of the V4Rs.
“[Compared with the V3Rs], the new V4Rs significantly improves the crash worth of the most exposed parts which may be subjected to impact in racing conditions,” says Colnago.
“An example is given by the completely newly designed seatstays which, besides their more aerodynamic shape, also significantly improve the flexural and impact resistance.”
You’ll have noticed that all of Colnago’s comparisons are between the V4Rs and its own V3Rs. It published a White Paper at the time of the V4Rs launch and there’s no data in there comparing the performance with that of bikes from other brands, so don’t know precisely how Colnago believes its top-level model measures up against the competition. Of course, we’d be taking any data of that kind with a pinch of salt anyway. Brands can be selective in the results they publish.
UAE Team Emirates has moved from Campagnolo to Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets for 2023. The team has also switched from Campag wheels and Pirelli tyres to Enve and Continental. It looks like Pogacar has gone for Enve SES 4.5 wheels in the main pic, with a 50mm rim depth at the front and a very slightly deeper 56mm rim at the rear.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.