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Colnago introduces the V4Rs in all but name

Sam Challis
9 Jun 2022

Different variants of the Colnago Prototipo will be raced by Team UAE Emirates in order to fine-tune race bike’s final design

The Colnago Prototipo – literally, 'prototype' – is a new race bike that will be used by Team UAE Emirates at the 2022 Tour de France, albeit one that, given its name, hasn’t quite been finalised yet.

According to Colnago, five variations of the frameset will be available for the team to race on from tomorrow.

Based in their feedback, a ‘winner’ will be chosen from the five prospective versions of the frameset and put into production, most likely to supersede Colnago’s existing V3Rs all-round race bike.

The Prototipo certainly looks to be in the mould of the V3Rs’ all-round race remit but has a number of frameset modifications – such as a more sculpted head tube, deeper seat tube and bigger bottom bracket junction – to improve attributes like aerodynamic efficiency and stiffness, suggesting it is an update on the design.

Tadej Pogačar has already been spotted aboard one version of the Prototipo, so expect to see more of his teammates riding other variations of the officially unofficial frameset over the next couple of months.

Final stages of development

Colnago says much of the developmental work has already been done on the Prototipo. The frameset tube profiles have been finalised, but the carbon composite schedule is yet to be confirmed.

So the five Prototipo variants will all look the same but perform differently due to slight differences in the layups.

Colnago says this refinement can only be properly done in the most exacting conditions, ie, actual WorldTour races.

Therefore the brand has made the unusual move to officially recognise the prototype bike, rather than conduct real world testing in a more clandestine manner, as is the norm.

‘While computer and wind-tunnel tests are important, they have limitations,’ says Davide Fumagalli, Colnago’s head of R&D. ‘It is difficult 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 new way to work

Colnago says the Prototipo uses a monocoque construction, but large elements of the frameset’s lamination schedule were worked out in a modular fashion.

The brand says this allowed them to develop the frameset as a whole more quickly and precisely. It also meant the new Colnago C68 could also be used help inform the design, for that is made using modular sections that are bonded together.

The new construction method facilitied some considerable changes to the frameset’s external form over Colnago’s current V3Rs race bike.

Most of the changes, such as the more aggressively waisted headtube and deeper seat tube, suggest the new bike should be more aerodynamically efficient than the V3Rs.

Colnago also says the bottom bracket junction is larger and more robust, suggesting stiffness improvements too, and credits a collaboration with Norwegian frame designer Torgny Kjeldskaar as key to achieving the developments in the Prototipo.

‘The objectives we set ourselves with Davide and his team involved achieving greater stiffness in the areas where stress is greatest from pedalling plus lower aerodynamic drag against the overall weight of the frame,’ says Kjeldskaar. ‘I think the most important work was to improve aerodynamics through the new head tube design though.’

Colnago hasn't confirmed when the new bike will be ready for the open market, but given how polished the Prototipo already looks, it can't be too far in the future.

Images: Colnago

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