What's Cool In Road Cycling

Colnago V3 Project Bike Build & Ride

Chuck's First Passion Project Gets Personal

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PEZ-Man Chuck Pena takes us through an enviable passion project as he rebuilds a new stock Colnago V3 carbon disc bike with some major parts upgrades including wheels, rotors, tires, chainrings, saddle, bars & stem, bar tape, cages, power meter, and more.

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Colnago. An iconic cycling marque born in 1954 that needs no introduction. The racers who have ridden bikes built by Colnago (although not always Colnago-branded) are giants of the sport: Magni, Motta, and none other than the Cannibal, to name a few. And the Colnago Mapei bikes ridden to multiple victories and podium places in Paris-Roubaix and other Classics are the stuff of legend. Who can forget the 1996 Paris-Roubaix when Johan Museeuw (the first of three victories in the Hell of the North for the Lion of Flanders), Gianluca Bortolami (he would win Flanders in 2001), and Andrea Tafi (Paris-Roubaix winner in 1999) crossed the line 1-2-3 in the velodrome on Colnagos?

The Project Started Here

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This PEZ project bike started life as a stock Colnago V3. The V3 is the “little brother” of the Colnago V3Rs, which is ridden by many of the UAE Team Emirates riders (including this year’s TdF winner, Tadej Pogacar – the first time a Colnago-branded bike has won Le Tour — and the winner of Stage 1, Alexander Kristoff). But the V3 is still a full-on race bike by any other name. Both are carbon fibre monocoque, have dropped seat stays, and the geometry of the two bikes is exactly the same. What’s different is that the V3 uses a different carbon fibre; doesn’t have as clean, fully-hidden cable integration as the V3Rs; and is sold only as completely built-up bike with full Ultegra gruppo (mechanical for PEZ, but Di2 is an option as is SRAM Force eTAP AXS), Fulcrum Racing 6 DB alloy wheels, Prologo saddle, and Deda stem and bars.

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Colnago V3’s “big brother,” as ridden to victory in this year’s Tour de France by Tadej Pogacar

What’s also different about the V3 is that it’s disc brake-only. Colnago claims its C59 with disc brakes unveiled at the 2012 Tapei bike show was the first road racing bike with disc brakes. Now, they are more ubiquitous in the pro peloton – but still considered relatively new technology. My PEZ amigo Ed Hood isn’t the biggest fan, but disc brakes have been on my wish list for a little while now so how could I pass up an opportunity to have a go on a disc brake Colnago for PEZ?

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Colnago C59 Disc at Eurobike 2012

But as PEZ readers know, pretty much any off-the-shelf bike will need at least a few changes to suit the rider. So while this bike came as a complete stock build, I stepped it up with several of my own upgrades including wheels, rotors, chainrings, bars & stem, saddle, bar tape, cages, pedals and more.

So without further ado …

A word about frame size and fit
Two words: faites attention! To begin, frame sizing isn’t universal amongst manufacturers. So don’t assume you know what frame size you need for any particular bike. For example, my trusty Felt FC is spec’ed as a 54 cm by Felt. But Felt measures to the top of the seat tube which extends above the top tube. Measured to the top of where the seat tube and top tube intersect, it’s more like 49 cm. Based on that measurement, the closest size V3 frame is 48 cm.

But you also need to know your different body measurements and pay attention to overall frame geometry.

colnago

In my case, I know that for my height (5′ 8″) I have a long torso relative to my inseam. That’s the reason my 90s #steelisreal race bike is a custom Hollands with a 53 cm seat tube and 54.5 cm top tube. And even with that long a top tube, I have a 120 mm stem.

The rule of thumb for a “pro” bikes these days seems to be riding the smallest frame you can for stiffness and weight (and to some degree, aerodynamics). If I adopted that philosophy and only used my inseam measurement, that would put me on a 45 cm V3. The stack would be close enough to work but the reach would be on the overly short side.

I’m in agreement with former 60s and 70s British pro rider Norman Hill: “the vast majority of riding positions look out of balance .” When I’m out on a group ride, a lot of riders looked “stacked up” rather than “stretched out” — meaning they’re sitting much more upright than you would expect on a race bike (but would be more the norm on an endurance bike). I prefer a frame size where both stack and reach measurements are as close to “perfect” as possible. Too far off on either one and I’m making a compromise somewhere. In particular, I was concerned that going too small would put too much of my weight out over the front wheel to get the reach right, and begin to affect overall bike balance, stability, and steering.

So even though 45cm might be the “pro” size V3 frame for me, a 48 cm is more “right” for me to get me positioned properly.

Gulo GRD-36 Carbon Disc Wheels

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Everyone knows that the biggest single upgrade you can make to a bike is new wheels. The stock Fulcrum (owned by Campagnolo) Racing DB 6 wheels are certainly very good wheels (especially if you’re a relatively newbie roadie riding your first serious road bike). They have a wide rim and are tubeless ready. And being alloy, they’re relatively bullet-proof. But even though they are relatively shallow depth (26 mm), they are still heavier (1,690 grams per Fulcrum) than a comparable set of carbon fibre wheels.

There are two major reasons to upgrade wheels: (1) more aero to go faster and (2) lighter means less rotating weight which requires less effort to go faster (especially when accelerating and climbing). The other – maybe the most important – reason is that carbon wheels just look badass.

PEZ elected to go both lighter and more aero with a pair of Gulo GRD-36 center lock disc wheels (previous featured in Gear Break) for the disc brake-only Colnago V3. The 36 mm rim depth provides an aero profile but is less susceptible to getting “snatched” in crosswinds (an important consideration for smaller, lighter riders like me). They are very light at 1,320 grams (manufacturer’s claimed weight and a 370 gram or 0.82 pounds weight savings versus the OEM Fulcrums) so won’t hold me back on the climbs (plus easier to bring up to speed quickly). Pretty much the description of an all-around set of wheels.

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A special shout out to Richie Trent at Gulo Composities for taking the time to help deciding between the GRD-36 and GRA-46 wheelsets. The deeper dish GRA-46s would be more aero/faster and certainly look flash, but Richie concluded (and I agreed): “I personally think the GRD-36 would fit your riding style and terrain best, plus comes in a bit lighter. Since you’re a smaller guy on a smaller bike, this would really help.”

Since Gulo is a new wheel brand, a little history. Gulo Composites is an outgrowth of KEIR Manufacturing, an advanced composites manufacturing company (but not previously in the bicycle business) in Brevard, NC that’s been around for 37 years. Per KEIR Manufacturing founder and President/CEO David Keir Watkins:

In 2017, we committed to develop a composite spoke by employing a new technology in the bicycle industry. This shift into the bicycle industry required a whole different approach to marketing and branding and thus we created Gulo Composites. Gulo stems from the genus of the wolverine and embodies many attributes of KEIR Manufacturing including remarkable agility and instincts, diverse interests, success instead of failure, and a tenacious pursuit of overcoming challenges. KEIR is a generational surname with Scottish roots that has been a middle name in my family for generations. Interestingly the origins of the name KEIR come from a parish in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland where the first pedal operated bicycle was invented in 1837 by Kirkpatrick Macmillian, a blacksmith’s son.

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Like most modern high end wheels, the Gulos feature wide rim (21 mm internal width) to better accommodate wider tires. And they are tubeless-ready with tubeless rim strips and valve stems pre-installed.

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The Gulo rims are wide, both inside and out

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Tubeless ready

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A nice touch is that Gulo provides an o-ring “washer” for the valve stem nut, which both protects the rim and helps create an airtight seal

Visually, the Gulos are different from other carbon wheels because the rims (constructed from Toray T700 carbon fiber) are a dark gray instead of ubiquitous black. So they’ll stand out from the ground on your group ride. They don’t have a clear coat and have a permanent type of decal that is cured in place and will not peel, chip, or scratch like traditional sticker decals. So the rim surface feels nearly completely smooth to the touch. It’s a look that’s both understated and classy IMHO.

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The rims themselves are modern aero rims designed by Gulo but sourced from a high-end wheel manufacturer because that was more cost-effective than Gulo manufacturing themselves.

But what separates Gulo wheels from other brands are the spokes, which are the heart of the total wheel design. Gulo went through 50+ iterations to develop the G1 spoke, which is a triaxially braided composite spoke. Without going into all the technical details (much of which is proprietary), the G1 spoke starts out life as multiple reels of fiber (carbon fiber and other materials that Gulo doesn’t disclose) on a triaxial braiding machine and spools of spoke braid are then molded into their final shape. The end pieces of the spoke are aerospace grade aluminum ferrules.

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The G1 spoke is more than just a spoke

According to Gulo: “The G1 spoke was formulated to be able to absorb massive impacts without failing. At the same time, it will retain tension much better and for much longer than traditional steel spokes at 40% of their mass.” If you’re wondering how strong that is, check out this video:

But it’s more than just the spokes themselves. Gulo wheels are engineered as a whole system.  Gulo Road rims are constructed with premium Japanese Toray T700 carbon fiber with alternating offset spoke holes drilled at the correct angles so that the spokes emanating from Gulo’s ETI (Easy Thread Interface) hubs leave the hub in a straight line and meet the rim where they were meant to. The result is reduced likelihood of spoke stress and fatigue failures.

Speaking of hubs, they are alloy. The rear hub features a patented anti-bite freehub body (Shimano 10/11-speed, Campagnolo 11-speed, and SRAM XDR are the available options), alternating 6 pawl drivers (3 pawls engaged at any time), and high-quality steel bearings (Gulo is looking into ceramic bearings down the road).

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Splined center-lock rotor mounts

Both the front and rear wheels are 24 spokes laced 2-cross. For PEZ readers who are new to disc brake wheels (like me), the front wheel isn’t radially laced as you might find with most rim brake wheels. The reason is that the wheel needs to be built stiffer to withstand the greater braking forces with disc brakes. The same for not radially lacing the non-drive side of the rear wheel.

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The spoke ferrules emanating from the hub body give Gulo wheels a distinctive look

For PEZ readers interested in how Gulo actually builds their wheels … The spokes are threaded into the hub body first until they are completely seated (with thread locker on the ferrule). Then the spokes are laced to their corresponding nipples, which are internal, by threading the nipples onto the ferrule. Truing and tensioning the wheel is done by holding the ferrule with a spoke wrench and tightening the nipples from inside the rim (this also prevents spoke twist). So the wheels are actually serviceable if they come out of true (and spokes can be replaced), but it’s a little more involved than a traditional wheel with external nipples.

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The gold freehub body is almost too gorgeous to put a cassette on!

Gulo Composites GRD-36 Wheels – $2,490.00

Ultegra Brake Rotors
The stock Fulcrum Racing DB6 wheels came with Shimano SLX center lock disc brake rotors installed. It would’ve been easy enough to move these over to the Gulo GRD-36 wheels, but I decided I wanted different rotors. According to disc brake doubter Ed Hood: “The pro mechanics replace the Dura Ace discs with the more rugged Ultegra or even MTB XTR discs but the latter aren’t up to long mountain descents, they’re prone to warping with the heat build-up.” I was able to find a pair of Ultegra rotors on eBay (take-offs from a new bike because the owner wanted Dura Ace … I guess he didn’t read Ed’s rant!) Not that this was a weight weenie build, but swapping the rotors saved me a whopping 13 grams of rotating weight!

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Ultegra – supposedly better than Dura Ace!

Shimano Ultegra SM-RT800 Brake Rotor – $58.99 each – at Amazon here

Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL tubeless tires
PEZ readers know I’m a fan of road tubeless and the Gulo GRD-36 wheels come with tubeless rim strips and valve stems already installed, so tubeless tires were a foregone conclusion. For this build, I decided to try the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL tires 700×28.

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The Grand Prix 5000 TL is a tubeless version of the Grand Prix 5000 clincher. The Grand Prix 4000 line of tires has had a loyal following for over a decade and is considered by many to be the gold standard of clincher tires. Continental claims the GP 5000 has less rolling resistance, better puncture resistance, and better mileage wear than the GP 4000. According to Continental, the BlackChili compound provides excellent grip and reduced rolling resistance without sacrificing durability, and the Vectran Breaker belt is supposed to be stronger than steel to offer high puncture resistance – both improved over the Grand Prix 4000. And the Lazer Grip shoulder tread is supposed to provide additional cornering grip.

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A word to the wise for those considering the GP 5000 TL … they probably have the tightest/stiffest beads known to mankind. So be prepared to expend a little extra effort installing them. Even with spraying the bead and rim with some soapy water to make them easier to slide on, I couldn’t get the GP 5000 TL tires onto the Gulo GRD-36 rims without resorting to using tire levers. I may have to try the bead/rim lubricant auto shops use for mounting car tires when I have to replace the tires to see if that works better.

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Everyone knows that the most important thing with tires (tubeless or otherwise) is making sure the valve stem is centered with the manufacturer logo

I also experienced an issue getting an air tight seal. I got the tire to seat without a problem but air was bleeding from the valve stem hole. The nut on the valve stem was as tight as I could get it by hand (and I didn’t want to risk over tightening using pliers), so at first I thought the problem was with the valve stem. But after some research (where would we be without Google?) and a phone call to Richie at Gulo, we decided that the more likely culprit was the higher pressure for road bike tires causing the rim tape to be compromised (an issue Richie said they’ve experienced with some of their road wheels). This is why it’s often a good idea to use a double layer of rim tape (Richie said they’ve started to do this with their road wheels)  – something I’ve done previously with road tubeless but didn’t do this time around. Kudos and big thanks to Richie for overnighting me an industrial size roll of the rim tape Gulo uses (Tesa) on their wheels. Out of an abundance of paranoia, I decided to add not one, but two additional layers of tape!

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My previous experience with Continental Grand Prix tires is that they tend to run a little wider than spec and the 5000 TLs were no exception

caffelatex
I use Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant and they make it easy with an app to determine how much to use based on tire size

Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL tires (700×28) – $94.95 – at Amazon here

Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex sealant (250 ml) – $14.35 – at Amazon here

Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle

saddle

The OEM saddle on the V3 is a Colnago-branded Prologo Dimension saddle with alloy rails. It’s a perfectly good saddle. However, the shape of the Dimension saddle (what Prologo calls V-shape, which positions you more forward) just doesn’t suit me. My butt prefers a more “traditional” platform shape. Fortunately, the shape of Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle (what Prologo calls T-shape) fits the bill.

Also, since the Colnago V3 is the little brother of the V3Rs ridden by Tadej Pogacar, it’s somewhat appropriate that the Prologo Scratch M5 PAS is the same saddle he rides.

The Scratch M5 PAS saddle is a short-nose saddle, which I’ve become a fan of. It’s specs:

  • 250 mm long (the UCI limit is 240 mm, if you wanted to know)
  • 140 mm wide
  • 132 grams with NACK carbon rails (TIROX alloy rails add 53 grams)

saddle
My Scratch M5 PAS saddle weighed in at 138 grams on my scale – slightly heavier than spec, but still very svelte

A reminder about carbon rails: they’re not round. They’re ovalized. If you have a seatpost that clamps the rails from the top and bottom, you shouldn’t have any issues. But if your seatpost clamps the rails from the side, you’re going to need an adapter from the manufacturer. Fortunately, the proprietary seatpost on the V3 clamps from the top and bottom.

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Carbon rails are dead sexy

Side-to-side, the Scratch M5 PAS is a more rounded shape. And front-to-back, there is a slight dip. For me and my butt, this is what’s most comfortable. But everyone is different so what’s comfortable for one person is uncomfortable (even painful) for another. Which is why saddle choice is a very personal decision. Interestingly, Prologo says its round saddle shape is more suited for riders with low pelvic rotation, i.e., less flexible, more upright, yet I have a relatively long and low riding position with fairly high pelvic rotation. Another reason why saddle fit isn’t always an exact science.

The PAS in the Scratch M5 PAS saddle stands for “Perineal Area System” that, according to Prologo, “is designed to eliminate pressure peaks and numbness, improving blood flow” and “eliminates contact points in the prostatic-genital area.”

saddle

saddle
The Scratch M5 PAS has a generous cutout. The padding design also creates a center channel that runs the full length of the saddle. So the best of both worlds for the “down under” bits.

The M5 nomenclature refers to the fact that the saddle’s padding is distinctly divided into five separate sections. According to Prologo, “The active foams, separated from each other, create 5 mapped zones that work individually, supporting the normal pedalling movement both during the pushing and pulling phases.”

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To the touch, the five different padding sections feel like they are different firmness/density

saddle
If board flat is what your butt prefers, these are not the droids you’re looking for

Prologo Scratch M5 PAS Saddle (with NACK carbon rails) – €199.00 – at Amazon here

Shimano PRO PLT stem and PLT Ergo handlebar
I knew that the stock Deda stem wasn’t going to work for me (both too short and too much rise, even if slammed on the low ~5 mm headset cone spacer). Had I been able to just replace the stem with another Deda stem of the right length and rise, I would have. But (I think because of supply chain issues resulting from COVID), I couldn’t get the stem I needed (from a domestic source). So on to Plan B.

Choosing a stem was probably the most “complicated” decision. But thanks to this web-based calculator, I had a way to evaluate options. I know from my set up on my Felt FC that given the stack and reach measurements for the 48 cm V3 frame (almost identical stack but shorter reach than my Felt FC), the easiest way to get to my riding position was to use the tall (~15 mm) headset cone spacer paired with a -17 degree stem (slammed with no spacers). But another option that would work was to use the low (~5 mm) headset cone spacer paired with a -10 degree stem (again, slammed with no spacers).

Decisions, decisions. Ultimately, it came down to vanity and being able to go totally low and pro with the stem as slammed as possible. So I chose a Shimano PRO PLT -10 degree stem. Also adding to the pro look is the fact that I needed a 130 mm long stem to get my reach right given the geometry of the V3 (another reason why I didn’t go with a 45 cm frame is because it would require an even longer stem).

Besides wanting a matching bar and stem, I went with the Shimano PRO PLT Ergo handlebar because I wanted a handlebar that had flat-ish tops because that’s actually more comfortable for me and there’s a modest aero benefit. I also wanted a handlebar that had external routing for the shifter and brake cables because I didn’t want to have to deal with re-cabling/routing everything (and why a full-on aero handlebar with internal routing wasn’t an option — if I was building the bike from scratch, an aero handlebar would have been my first choice).

The PRO PLT product line is a tier down from the PRO Vibe components that are used by several pro teams, but they are top shelf nonetheless and get the job done.

The PRO PLT stem is your basic alloy stem. Simple and straightforward. Nothing fancy. A traditional design that works. Two opposing pinch bolts to clamp the stem to the steerer tube. Four-bolt faceplate to clamp the handlebars. Aesthetically, I like that the stem shape is more “box”-like rather than round, which is in keeping with the tube shapes of modern carbon fiber monocoque frames like the V3.

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My 130mm stem weighed in at 142 grams (spec is 152 grams)

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The notched interface of Shimano’s Headlock system helps ensure the faceplate and stem body are properly aligned for a secure front clamp fixation

comp mount
My Wahoo bike computer mount (from Amazon) attaches to the faceplate

The PRO PLT Ergo handlebar is also alloy. Compact bend with 128 mm drop and 75 mm reach, but no flare. Again, simple and straightforward. Nothing fancy. A traditional design that works.

bars

bars
My 40 cm wide bars weighed in at 275 grams (spec is 280 grams) — about what you would expect for alloy bars

PRO PLT Stem – $59.99 –  at Amazon here

PRO PLT Ergo Handlebar – $74.99 – at Amazon here

Rotor Q Ring oval chainrings
PEZ readers know I’m an oval chainring convert. Colnago spec’ed the Ultegra-equipped V3 with 52/36 chainrings. My aging legs prefer a compact 50/34 set-up. Since I would need new chainrings, I decided to try Rotor Q Rings. According to Rotor, their oval Q Rings:

  • improve your performance, minimize fatigue and reduce stress on the knees
  • virtually decrease the gear ratio in the dead spot and increase the gear ratio in the power phase where the rider exerts the most force

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They’re definitely not round!

And they’re not Biopace:

rotor

I won’t get into a debate about the science of oval chainrings and whether they’re actually better than round chainrings. My PEZ pal Dr. Stephen Cheung examined Chain Rings And Power Output and took a closer look at Rotor Rings without finding any significant performance benefit. But there are at least two other studies that provide evidence that they do: Effects of Chainring Type (Circular vs. Rotor Q-Ring) on 1km Time Trial Performance Over Six Weeks in Competitive Cyclists and Triathletes (September 2011) and Physiological Responses during Cycling With Oval Chainrings (Q-Ring) and Circular Chainrings (May 2014). I just know that I like them.

chain guide
Because I know from experience that oval chainrings can sometimes be a little finicky, I installed a K-EDGE Pro Road Chain Catcher

cassette
And as long as I was changing chainrings, I also changed out the cassette to 11-30 (what can I say … I’m a geezer and need as much gear range as I can possibly get)

I kept the stock Shimano Ultegra chain because it was the right length to work with swapping to different size chainrings and cassette. But when it’s seen the end of its useful life, it will be replaced with my favorite bling gold KMC chain.

chainset

Rotor Q Rings (110×4 bcd) – outer $110.00, inner $55.00 – at Amazon here

K-EDGE Pro Road Chain Catcher (braze on) – $29.99 – at Amazon here

Precision 4iiii Power Meter
Although I’m not racing anymore or training for anything, I ride with a power meter because … well… ummm…

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When is a crank arm more than just a crank arm?

I have a Precision 4iiii left side only crank arm power meter on my Felt FC. But since it’s an older Ultegra 6800 group set, simply swapping crank arms wasn’t an option (plus not really practical if I’m switching between bikes fairly regularly). I’ve had zero issues with it so decided to stick with something I know works and got a Precision 4iiii Ultegra R8000 left side only crank arm power meter for the Colnago.

Speaking of crank arms and tried and true/don’t fix what ain’t broke … the one “old” thing on an otherwise new bike are Speedplay X2 pedals (fortunately, I have several pairs). I’ve ridden Speedplays since my racing days in the 90s. I don’t have any knee issues, but love the total free float. Plus the “lollipop” design makes them super easy to clip in and out of. And there’s a practical consideration: all my other bikes have Speedplay X2 pedals which means all my shoes have X2 cleats. That said, Wahoo acquired Speedplay in 2019 and it will be interesting to see what Wahoo does now that it’s in the pedal business. I know one question on a lot of people’s minds is: Will there be a Wahoo pedal-based power meter?

4iiii Precision Shimano Ultegra R8000 power meter – $349.99 – at Amazon here

Finishing Touches by Arundel
Last but not least, the PEZ Colnago V3 project bike is finished off with Arundel Synth. Gecko bar tape and Mandible water bottle cages.

The Synth. Gecko bar tape is a padded bar tape made from 100% silicone foam. According to Arundel, silicone foam is perfect application for bar tape because:

  • it sticks to itself so no additional adhesive is required on the underside of the tape to prevent it from slipping once wrapped
  • it’s easy to wrap, unwrap, and even reuse (with no stickum residue that many tapes leave behind)
  • it cleans up easily with soap and warm water

bar tape

The Synth. Gecko bar tape also has a subtle pavé pattern that provides a surface texture to improve tactile feel and grip. This is a nice touch for riders like me who ride sans gloves (at least in warm enough weather).

One nice thing about the Synth. Gecko bar tape not having any adhesive is that it’s easier to un-wrap and re-wrap if you don’t get everything just right (for the record … I hate wrapping handlebars!)

Even though the PEZ project V3 wasn’t a weight weenie build, I went with Arundel Mandible water bottle cages because … well … OK, they’re really light. 28 grams to be exact.

cages
My Mandible cage must’ve been on a diet

But weight isn’t everything. What actually matters more is that the Mandible water bottle cages have a boa constrictor-like grip on water bottles.  Per Arundel, the Mandible’s “grip is the strongest of all Arundel cages. It’s great in extreme situations. Mandible cages have weathered the Grand Tours, the Spring Classics, Worlds, all of it.” Let’s just say that Mandible water bottle cages hold water bottles impressively tight. Even riding over bumpy stuff, I never worried about them bouncing out. Yet getting water bottles in and out of them is surprisingly easy. Despite their grip, it doesn’t take extra effort to pull water bottles out. I have to admit that the big bucks associated with carbon fiber water bottle cages always seemed exorbitant, if not silly. But at least in the case of the Arundel Mandible, the cost can be justified (rationalized?) in terms of near perfect functionality.

Arundel Styth. Gecko Bar Tape – $35.95 – at ArundelBike.com

Arundel Mandible Water bottle Cage – $74.95 each – Buy em here

A Bike Transformed

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Before

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After

Due to COVID affecting the supply chain and the other demands on my time (work, family, and, of course, riding), this bike project took longer than expected. But if all good things are worth waiting for, the PEZ  project Colnago V3 was worth the time and effort.

arundel cages
The matte UD carbon Mandible cages blend well with the V3 frame for a stealthy look

As far as riding goes, the V3 is definitely a stiff frame (certainly stiff enough for the levels of power output I can muster up). At least for a relatively light, spindly climber-type like me, when I stomp on the pedals there’s no flex … just forward propulsion. But the V3 isn’t so stiff that it’s overly harsh or to the point where it’s uncomfortable on longer rides (so far, my longest ride has been 50-something miles with no complaints). In addition to being more than stiff enough, the V3 is “race ready” with fairly fast/sharp handling but without being twitchy or nervous (I have to admit that I had some concerns given that both the seat tube and head tube angles are marginally steeper than my Felt FC, which is more along the lines of 90s “relaxed” stage race geometry).

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Not fully integrated internal routing, but the front and rear derailleur cables are internally routed (as are the brake hoses), which lends a clean overall look

And I love the new Ultegra R8000 gruppo. The shifting is light, crisp, and sure. Dura Ace is supposed to be better, but I’m not sure how much better it can be (at least as far as mechanical shifting goes … I’ve yet to try Di2). And if Ultegra is this good, it makes me wonder how good 105 is.

tape
Everyone who knows me knows that my “trademark” is pink handlebar tape (because the Giro is my favorite Grand Tour and #realmenridepink), but I decided to do something a little different this time (even though it involved a little more patience and work on my part) by using pink Synth. Gecko bar tape in the drops and black on the tops

The Gulo wheels are everything I expect in a set of modern carbon wheels. They come up to speed quickly and hold their speed well (especially considering they are not deeper dish, more specific “go fast” wheels). And they are stiff with no flex when you’re out of the saddle trying to extract every last bit of power up a steep incline. But where they really shined for me was in the wind (15+ mph) on my first ride. With wind coming from every direction on the ride, I never felt like I was getting buffeted around. Even with direct side on wind, my front wheel was stable and never got snatched. For lighter riders like me, they’re about as perfect as perfect gets for a set of all-around wheels.

Also, the Gulo wheels roll very smoothly, which is a testament to Gulo’s bearing choice. They may be regular steel ball bearings, but I didn’t feel like I was giving up anything to ceramic bearings (which I have on my other wheels).

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Those wheels!

The reward for the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TLs being a total PITA to mount is that in addition to being fast rolling, the ride is super smooth and soft. They really soak up all the imperfections in the road and take the edge off of little hits/bumps. (I’m riding them 70 psi front and 72 psi rear.)

stem
My stem’s fraternity is Phi Slamma Jamma

And the disc brakes are a revelation. It’s not so much the increased stopping power (although you can certainly stop faster and in shorter distances with less brake lever effort on disc brakes vs rim brakes), but the ability to modulate the brakes. I wish I had them when I did my one “epic” ride this season that included two big climbs (Mount Weather and Blue Ridge Mountain Road) that, of course, had corresponding descents. And not that I ride in the rain (at least not intentionally), but disc brakes mean not having to worry about being able to slow down/stop in the wet.

disc

Yes, I know Ed Hood will remind me that disc brakes are heavier, and he’s right. If you did an apples-to-apples comparison of the same exact bike with the same exact components and wheels, but one with disc brakes and the other with rim brakes, the disc brake bike will be heavier. How much heavier? At least the weight of the rotors , so maybe 300 grams? For pros and weight weenies, that might matter. For the rest of us mere mortals not riding in the rarefied air of the pro peloton … To each his own to weigh the benefits of disc brakes vs weight gain and other potential drawbacks. I will say this though: my disc Colnago V3 actually weighs the same (17.1 pounds with pedals, water bottle cages, and bike computer mount — which is less than what the V3 weighs completely stock out of the box without pedals, water bottle cages, and bike computer mount) as my Felt FC with rim brakes. I know that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, but I’m not giving up anything in the weight department with disc brakes.

colnago

Although the “dip” isn’t as pronounced and it’s not quite as wide as the Selle San Marco Carbon FX on my Felt FC, the Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle works well for me. It feels a little different that what I’m used to because I’m not quite as “locked in” to my position on the saddle and it’s a little easier to slide forward or back. All in all, my butt is very comfortable in it. As a short-nose saddle, it gets rid of (for me) unneeded forward real estate allowing me to lean forward more and get lower into the aero position more comfortably by reducing pressure on soft tissue. Even riding “on the rivet” is comfortable because the nose of the saddle is wider than a traditional saddle.

colnago

Like many other modern aero bikes, the V3 has a proprietary seat post and uses an internal seat post wedge

saddle

I know it covers up the sexy carbon rails, but I use cloth tape to protect the rails and help prevent against slippage

Although it took some time, it was fun doing an “up build” on an out-of-the-box bike to make it my own.  If you’ve read this far, you probably agree that bikes are more than just functional – they are personal and emotional. And there’s a certain satisfaction in getting everything “just right.” This Colnago V3 project was no different.

veloink
A few personal touches courtesy of VeloInk. Thank you Chris Gardner!

The Colnago V3 isn’t the exact same bike the pros ride, but it’s a great example of being able to have what amounts to a “pro level” bike for significantly less (a bare Colnago V3RS frame costs almost as much as a fully equipped V3). Yes, you can spend more money to get more/a “better” bike, but the extra $$$ may not translate into more than just bragging rights.

colnago

It may not be as sexy as Colnago’s lugged carbon frame bikes and purists will quibble with the Shimano components, but the Colnago V3 is still Italian so — by definition — has soul. When you show up on your local group ride, it will elicit compliments. And admiring looks at coffee stops. Fabio Aru may have famously screamed “Cazzo di bici!” in the heat of the moment after he crashed on his Colnago on Stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta, but it’s really “Molto bella bici!” 

colnago
I know my PEZ compadres Ed, Al, and Leslie will take issue with my socks, but they are just curmudgeons


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