Colnago may be an Italian brand steeped in history but it's also a company that isn't afraid to keep up with the times. Announced today is its latest collaboration with the automobile brand Ferrari: the 835g V1-r carbon fiber aero road bike.
Colnago says the new V1-r is a generally "more aggressive" race bike than the recently introduced C60. According to Colnago America national sales manager Billy Kanzler, the V1-r has a stiffer, racier, firmer, and more responsive feel than the Italian-made C60 flagship, and at 835g for a bare frame (size 48s, verified actual weight), it's also the lightest frame Colnago has ever offered by nearly 150g.
Another departure for Colnago is a move to direct-mount brake calipers, including a rear caliper that's now located below the chain stays. Colnago says that this saves a bit of weight over traditional center-mounted calipers but more importantly, their more compact arrangement is less prone to flex so the braking power and modulation is improved as well. Shimano-equipped complete bikes will come with Shimano brakes but other builds will get Colnago-branded aluminum calipers made by Hayes.
As good as direct-mount brakes can be, Colnago also has a disc version of the V1-r in development that will likely use thru-axles at both ends along with some form of Hayes' slick – and very fast – HexLock quick-release skewer system.
Airfoil tube profiles, ThreadFit 82.5 bottom bracket system
Subtle Kamm-style tube shaping lends the new V1-r a purported aero advantage over round-tubed bikes, too, with the truncated airfoil profiling being applied to the down tube, head tube, seat tube, and seatpost. Colnago says the sculpting makes the V1-r faster than a conventionally shaped frame "in all conditions" – although we should point out that there was no test data provided to support those claims.
Nevertheless, Colnago has never set out to create the absolute lightest, stiffest, or most aero machines and Kanzler stresses that the usual company hallmarks faithfully carry over. In particular, Kanzler says that despite the low weight, the V1-r is as durable, strong, and safe as any other frame in the Colnago lineup.
"These will last forever – period," he said. "Is there a weight penalty? Absolutely. But is it worth it? Oh, yeah."
Part of that slight weight disadvantage over some other companies' so-called superbikes is directed at the bottom bracket where Colnago has again applied the novel ThreadFit 82.5 system that was first introduced on the C60.
According to Colnago, the currently accepted practice of pressing bearing cups into a bonded-in sleeve or inserting the bearings directly into molded-in seats isn't some sort of technological advantage; it's merely a thinly veiled way to decrease manufacturing costs and is unacceptably prone to creaking or play over time that often isn't easy to rectify.
"Pressing bearing directly into a frame is a really poor way to save weight," said Kanzler.
Instead, the ThreadFit 82.5 system features a threaded steel sleeve that is permanently bonded into the shell. From here, a set of precision-machined aluminum cups are then threaded into that sleeve, and then Shimano PF86-compatible bottom bracket are pressed into those. Proper alignment is thus insured between both sides and in the event of long-term wear, those threaded cups can simply be removed and replaced.
This setup also lets Colnago build the V1-r with the more generously proportioned tubing that the extra-wide shell geometry allows while still maintaining broad compatibility with a wide range of component manufacturers.
Colnago also traded weight savings for durability up in the 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered head tube, where the headset bearings rest on tough, precision-machined aluminum seats instead of carbon fiber ones. And while the rear dropouts are carbon fiber – another first for Colnago – the tips of the matching 395g fork are made of forged-and-machined aluminum to better withstand repeated mounting and dismounting on roof racks.
Designed to ride like a Colnago
Colnago is fully anticipating having to justify the V1-r's existence when compared to other bikes in its category that perform better on paper with lower weights, higher stiffnesses, or better aerodynamic performance. However, Kanzler says that Colnago's goal has never been to make the lightest frame – only the best riding and most durable race bikes that also hold their value over time.
"The numbers don't mean anything," he said. "It's designed to ride like a Colnago."
V1-r framesets will retail for US$4,749/€3,100. The first shipments are expected to land in stores in about a month but you'll see the Europcar team on them sooner than that as many of them will be racing the new V1-r at next month's Tour de France. We'll hopefully begin testing of a long-term sample around then, too.