Pro bike: Sven Nys' Colnago Prestige

The bike of the 2013 world cyclo-cross champion

This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

Sven Nys (Crelen-Euphony), long a legend in international cyclo-cross, cemented his status with his second UCI cyclo-cross world championship title Saturday in brutally cold and muddy conditions in Louisville, Kentucky. We took a look at his Colnago Prestige.

The Colnago Prestige frame is several years old now but the fact that it's currently in use by Nys as well as current world champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) stands as a strong testament to its solid design. Known more for its lugged carbon chassis, Colnago instead builds the Prestige in more contemporary fashion with a monocoque front end mated to bonded-in seat stay and chain stay assemblies, both joined with two-piece hinged aluminum dropouts.

Further reinforcing the straightforward construction are the straight 1 1/8in front end where most new bikes now use tapered setups, a threaded bottom bracket shell, and a dead-level top tube. The seat cluster is uniquely punctuated by an additional arc of carbon that supposedly eases the pain of shouldering, however, and Nys' Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wires are internally routed. Consumer-spec Prestige frames are further modernized with disc brake tabs but as is still currently the case with most top-level European racers, Nys carries on with simpler – and lighter – cantilevers, at least for now.

One might expect someone like Nys to pilot an exotically outfitted machine but it's decidedly workhorse everywhere you look, which perhaps only further highlights his athletic talents. In fact, most of the bits on Nys' bike aren't even current.

For example, the Dura-Ace Di2 transmission is the older 7970 generation, the replacement for his Dura-Ace WH-7900-C35-TU carbon tubular wheelset has already seen action for nearly a full season with WorldTour road teams, and even the XTR pedals are the previous M970 edition (although it's widely accepted that the newer ones actually aren't as good in heavy mud).

Countless races in wet and muddy conditions have worn the anodizing off of the crankarms and even the frameset shows numerous battle scars from competition and travel. Considering the abuse served up week in and week out by both rider and environment, the bike's impeccable functional condition speaks volumes about the mechanics that tend to it.

Rounding out the build are 33mm-wide Dugast Typhoon tires (though the more aggressive Rhinos might be used if Saturday afternoon proves muddy), a Selle Italia SLR Team Edition saddle, and a mix of PRO aluminum and carbon fiber cockpit components. Nys apparently doesn't require a number to know how hard he's working as there is no power meter or computer installed – success is measured instead by the grimaces and weeping of his competitors on course.

Total bike weight is light but not especially so at 7.68kg (16.93lb).

On paper, a less astute observer might say Nys' Colnago Prestige is due for an update. But where someone else sees nicks, scratches, and abuse, we see experience, wisdom, and confidence. As the saying goes, it's not the size of the sword that counts but how you wield it – and Nys can cut a wicked slice indeed.

Full Specifications

Complete bike specifications

Frame: Colnago Prestige, rim brake, 56cm
Fork: Colnago Cross Carbon, straight 1 1/8" steerer
Headset: Colnago zero-stack, 1 1/8"
Stem: PRO PLT, 120mm x -6°
Handlebars: PRO Vibe Round, 44cm (c-c)
Tape/grips: Colnago cork
Front brake: Shimano CX70 cantilever w/ Shimano carbon-specific pads
Rear brake: Shimano CX70 cantilever w/ Shimano carbon-specific pads
Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7970
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 FD-7970
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-7970
Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 STI Dual Control ST-7970
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 12-27T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7901
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 172.5mm, 46/39T
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace SM-BB7900
Pedals: Shimano XTR PD-M970
Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7900-C35-TU
Front tire: Dugast Typhoon tubular, 33mm
Rear tire: Dugast Typhoon tubular, 33mm
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Team Edition
Seat post: PRO Vibe
Bottle cages: n/a
Computer: n/a

Critical measurements

Rider's height: 1.81m (5' 11")
Rider's weight: 70kg (154lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 765mm
Saddle setback: 73mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 560mm
Seat tube length, c-c: 540mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 567mm
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 83mm
Head tube length: 148mm (including headset cups)
Top tube length: 550mm
Total bicycle weight: 7.68kg (16.93lb)

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