Tadej Pogačar has turned in some pretty good results with the current Colnago V3Rs, among them the past two Tours de France, but now he has a new V4R Prototipo road bike at his disposal, as well. The new race-ready prototype that the UAE team has at its disposal starting this weekend, shares many similarities with Colnago’s single all-rounder road racing bike, but it does hint at improved aerodynamics on the outside and all-new construction inside the carbon…
Colnago Prototipo prototype V4R road bike
While many companies build separate climbers’ bikes and aero road bikes at the top of their line, Colnago focused on one universal road bike for its pro racers – the current V3Rs. Revamped with disc brakes and subtly tweaked aerodynamics back in 2019, it looks like there’s a new version in the works…
Colnago is calling it the Prototipo, which is simply prototype in Italian, but my money is on it ultimately being dubbed the new V4R, a single all-rounder lightweight climber & aero road bike, all-in-one.
The new bike is still in the prototype stage, with Colnago officially giving it to their UAE Team Emirates riders to start racing this weekend, as they verify the final carbon layup that will make up the production bikes. In all likelihood though, everything on the outside will stay the same, and it will probably get an official announcement at the V4R this summer, perhaps as early as the start of the Tour de France which starts in just 3 weeks. What we do know is it has not yet made it onto the UCI’s approved frame list yet (interestingly Colnago hasn’t had a new frame approved since the current V3Rs.)
Colnago prototype development
Colnago says the team has already helped them refine individual elements of the bike, and even its layup by sticking together pieces of the new V4R Prototipo into their tube-to-tube C68 carbon. Even though the new V4R Prototipo will be a monocoque carbon production bike like its predecessors for the best balance of lightweight & stiffness, the C-series construction allowed them to iterate and refine individual elements separately, on an accelerated development schedule.
In fact, the result is the UAE Team will get 5 different carbon layups to test out in race conditions, to pick which is the best balance of stiffness, lightness, comfort, and reactivity. Colnago’s head of R&D describes the unique feedback process like this, “To improve the performance of this frame we used a totally new method – that is to collaborate directly with the UAE Team Emirates athletes, proposing to race with frames produced with different carbon laminations. The ultimate goal is to achieve the best lamination for a frame that must be as versatile as possible, suited to the needs of sprinters, rouleurs and climbers alike, and to be at the top in the different phases of a race.”
“While computer and wind-tunnel tests are important, they have limitations. 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.”
What’s new? Tech details
From the design perspective, the prototype Colnago Prototipo V4R looks to combine inspiration from both the current V3Rs & C68 – adding a slightly thinner and more aero-integrated front end to the lightweight race bike.
Specifically, the new Prototipo moves to a more aerofoil and hourglass headtube profile, smoother integration from the headset into the toptube, and an updated transition from the fork crown into a reshaped aerofoil downtube.
The new fork looks to get slightly thinner legs, although the crown still tapers close to the real 25mm wide 26c Pirelli tires on 19.4mm internal Campagnolo wheels. I’d anticipate a max tire clearance, no more than 30mm. At the dropout, this newer flat mount disc fork also gets the same replaceable alloy thru-axle insert of the recent C68.
At the back of the new Colango prototype V4R, the boxy chainstays now taper into a larger, more scalloped dropout and newly aero-shaped seatstays. The small rear wheel cutout and dropped position of where the seatstays hit the seattube remain, but this junction also gets a revised horizontal transition to smooth airflow, just like the lower headtube.
The hidden wedge-style clamp for the proprietary aero seatpost carry over, as does fully internal cable routing.
A welcome upgrade here is the extra-long life CeramicSpeed SLT headset bearing, which we’ve seen to be a great idea with all cabling routed through the upper bearing. If your headset needs to be replaced on one of these modern road bikes, every cable needs to be pulled out, and brakes need to be re-bled, so a permanent grease-free headset is simply one less thing to have to worry about once the bike is built up.
It’s less clear but Colnago and their partner bike design consultant Torgny Fjeldskaar both stress that the new bike takes advantage of a larger bottom bracket cluster to increase stiffness for improved pedal power transfer into the drivetrain.
New Colnago Prototipo V4R road bike availability?
When this prototype Prototipo will turn into a commercially-available Colnago V4R road bike is still completely up in the air. It does seem like the bike’s design is completely finalized, so the molds are probably already finished and waiting in Taiwan to start production. Assuming Colnago takes UAE feedback into consideration this summer, we’d guess that the earliest any of these new V4R road bikes could make it into consumer hands would be this coming autumn, maybe winter.
At least, there should be a new V4R in Colnago shops for the start of next racing season.