Race-ready Colnago Prototipo breaks cover

A black Colnago Prototipo in a warehouse
(Image credit: Colnago)

As referenced in its name, the Colnago Prototipo is a new prototype race bike from the Italian bicycle maker. For now, it will be available exclusively to riders of UAE Team Emirates in five different trim grades but will soon be narrowed down to one option based on rider feedback. The Prototipo will be raced by the team at the 2022 Tour de France where Tadej Pogačar will look to defend his title.

The Slovenian has already been out and about sampling the Prototipo as part of the development process, but the whole team will now have access to the bike for in-competition testing from today - as part of the final testing phase ahead of sign-off. UAE Team Emirates riders will now be able to choose between the Prototipo and existing Colnago V3Rs depending on the race parcours.

A black Colnago Prototipo in a warehouse

(Image credit: Colnago)

New methods, new carbon layup

According to Colnago, the Prototipo represents a new way of construction. While the final result is a monocoque frame design, the initial testing benchmarks were carried out on individual parts that make up the 'new C series' frame. This method allowed the brand to calculate and refine the thickness and placement protocols of the carbon fibre in a more holistic manner - improving accuracy and saving time, too.

Having played around with many options, five final frame blueprints were selected for field testing, which will be available for the team to use from today. From these five different laminations, Colnago will select a consumer-ready final version that will be signed off after being tested in real-world race scenarios.

While no official specifications have been released outlining the Prototipo's weight values and aerodynamic numbers, the bike will almost certainly be in line with contemporary road bike weight limits - not to mention lighter than the current V3Rs.

The key points of development of the Prototipo focussed around the headtube and bottom bracket area, and striking a balance between stiffness and weight. While it resembles the Colnago V3Rs, modifications to the headtube and deeper seat tube also point to the bike's aerodynamic potential.

“While computer and wind-tunnel tests are important, they have limitations" says Davide Fumagalli, head of Colnago R&D. "It is difficult – if not impossible – to replicate the race-specific situations, the irregularities of the course, the stresses of the terrain, the aerodynamic turbulence, the accelerations in the different moments of the competition. At the level of development we have reached, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve improvements. In this way, by taking advantage of the experience of those who ride their bicycles for many hours a day, we feel we can make our racing bikes take a further and important step forward."

A black Colnago Prototipo in a warehouse

(Image credit: Colnago)

Balancing function with form

Considerable work was also carried out on creating a visually pleasing bike, a challenge when combining that with the technical science behind frame construction. Italian design philosophy is the same across the automotive and bicycle spectrums with form a consequence of function. To achieve this balance, Colnago called on the services of Norwegian industrial design icon, Torgny Fjeldskaar. 

"The starting point in the development of the Prototipo was to create a totally performance-driven frame; that is, with a design clearly oriented towards obtaining the best technical performance," says Fjeldkaar. "The objectives we set ourselves with Davide and his team, and on which we worked, involved achieving greater stiffness in the areas where stress is greatest from pedalling plus lower aerodynamic drag against the overall weight of the frame."

While there are no concrete release dates available just yet, we're expecting the official sign-off sometime after this year's Tour de France. 

What do you think of the new Colnago Prototipo? We're keen to hear your thoughts below in the comments.

A black Colnago Prototipo in a warehouse

(Image credit: Colnago)

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Aaron Borrill

Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor. 

Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB