We tested the new product from the Italian manufacturer Colnago, the V1-R, an all-rounder developed together with iconic car brand Ferrari.
Bike manufacturers seem to have a thing about hooking up with supercar companies to design their top-end road bikes, with BMC and Lambourghini, and Look and Maserati having teamed up in the past. But if you’re a fan of all things Italian, then Colnago’s partnership with Ferrari is surely the only place to go.
For a bike created in collaboration with Ferrari, it should be no surprise that the V1-R is a fast bike designed with aerodynamics and weight in mind. That means a frame and fork that have been optimized in a wind tunnel, while the 835g frame weight is also rather impressive.
That said, if it’s aero that you’re after, then the integrated components and cabling of the Trek Madone and Specialized Venge ViAS leave the V1-R lagging a bit behind.
But if it’s practicality that you’re after, then the Colnago also falls short with its rear brake located at the bottom bracket. Colnago might have found that this to be slightly more aerodynamic (although other manufacturers aren’t quite so convinced), but any time you save cutting through the wind is surely cancelled out by the extra time that you spend fiddling with the brakes whenever they need adjusting.
The V1-R you see here has the least expensive complete build that is currently available in the UK. However, that doesn’t mean you’re left with budget kit that falls woefully short of the exclusive frame.
Most of the drivetrain comes from Shimano Ultegra which, as you should probably know by now, means close to faultless shifting and braking. In fact, the only real difference between Ultegra and it’s bigger brother Dura-Ace is that Dura-Ace is a handful of grams lighter.
Watch Shimano Ultegra review
However, this bike doesn’t come with a complete Ultegra groupset, with the crankset substituted for an FSA Gossamer Pro compact. Not only does this not help the aesthetics of the bike, but it also occasionally struggled to pick up the chain when shifting into the big ring.
As for the wheels, on paper the Vision TriMax 30s aren’t anything special, but I actually found them surprisingly lively in the hills and on the flats, although it’s disappointing that the black finish on the brake track is only temporary.
As you should expect from a bike with a frameset that retails at £2,899.95 the ride is pretty exceptional.
The south of England might not have any mountains, but it ticks every other box if you’re looking for varied terrain, and the Colnago V1-R excels in all of them. Uphill it’s sprightly, with the stiff rear end responding well to sharp accelerations, and on the flat it’s also exceptional, not wasting any watts when you’re sprinting for the town sign, and doing a good job of holding that speed too.
The handling is also very good. With a frame designed for the WorldTour, it’s no surprise that the Colnago is exceptionally sharp, letting you career into corners with reckless abandon, especially with the faultless Continental GP4000 tyres there to guide you.
Up hill and down dale, the Colnago V1-R is an absolute blast.
But after extolling the virtues of the V1-R in the previous section, we must inevitably come to the value. There’s no escaping the fact that this is a four grand bike that can’t even muster together a full Shimano Ultegra groupset.
Yes the frame is very good, but it’s not that good. If I was paying this amount of money for a bike, then I would either be looking around for something with a full Dura-Ace groupset, or maybe look for a complete bike that was a little cheaper and put my spare change towards some posh carbon wheels.
On paper, this bike should probably score lower than an eight. The aerodynamics of the frame and bike lag behind what is now on offer from the likes of Trek and Specialized, while the rear brake is positioned at the bottom bracket which makes it a real faff to adjust and maintain. At £4,000, this might be the cheapest complete build you can get of the V1-R, but it still can’t get you a complete Ultegra groupset, and the replacement FSA crankset not only looks a bit naff, but can’t match Ultegra’s shift quality either. Yet despite all that, the V1-R has won me over with its truly exceptional ride. A true all-rounder, this is a bike that is a pleasure to ride over any terrain, and will deliver the performance that you want whether you’re a whippet climber or a heavy-built sprinter.