Unbound Gravel, the biggest event in gravel cycling, is not until this weekend, but we may have already found the coolest bike in the race.
Nathan Haas will line up Saturday in Emporia, Kansas, aboard a custom Colnago G3-X with styling inspired by both 1990s paint jobs from the Italian brand and the state of Kansas. It’s the second of five custom G3-X bikes Colnago will be creating this year for its athletes.
“It’s the biggest race on the US calendar,” Haas told VeloNews, “so we sat down with Colnago and thought, ‘let’s think back to the last time Colnago was exceptionally cool, rad.’ We thought that the early 1990s, with the acid wash, color fade for the bike, and the iconic rider on the top tube would be a really fun throwback.”
In addition to the blue-yellow fade paint, Colnago has included a chrome fork and chain and seat stays as another nod to its paint schemes of the ’90s.
As well as tapping into Colnago’s history, the bike celebrates the state of Kansas, where Unbound takes place. The blue and yellow color scheme comes from the Kansas state flag, and the state motto “ad astra per aspera,” meaning “to the stars through difficulties,” adorns the top tube.
The result is a bike that calls to mind classic Colnago team bikes of decades past, while creating something new. “We’ve combined elements of the past with a futuristic gravel bike,” said Haas.
We got a closer look at Haas’s G3-X, which, despite the paint, is a fully modern gravel racing machine.
- Groupset: Campagnolo EKAR
- Wheels: Campagnolo Shamal
- Chainring: 42T
- Cassette: 9-42T
- Crank length: 170mm
- Tires: Vittoria Tirreno Dry 38
- Saddle: Fizik 3D printed Antares Versus EVO R3 Adaptive
Haas’s kit sponsor Castelli has also joined in on the collaboration, creating a jersey and bibs for the race. Designer Richard Pierce drew inspiration from team kits from the 2000s.
Haas keeps things Italian across the board with a Campagnolo Ekar groupset and Levante wheels, a 3D printed Fizik Antares Versus EVO R3 Adaptive saddle, and Vittoria Tirreno Dry 38 tires.
It will be hard to miss Haas on Saturday with a shiny chrome fork like that.
The top tube includes a depiction of Haas from above. A former professional cyclist in MTB and road, Haas is racing gravel this season, competing in events in the UCI Gravel World Series as well as select high profile events like Unbound Gravel and SBT GRVL.
Campagnolo offers the Ekar chainring in 38 to 44 tooth options. Haas, looking to win the race, has opted for the 42T version for speed.
The state motto of Kansas, “ad astra per aspera,” meaning “to the stars through difficulties,” adorns the top tube.
An acid wash fade in the paint calls back to ’90s themes for Colnago, like Mapei’s team bikes.
This bike has to be viewed from every angle to fully appreciate it.
The fade from blue to yellow to white to blue, contrasted by the chrome stays, with the Colnago spade logo in view, is most stark where the seat tube meets the seat stays.
The G3-X features a more stable ride with wider tires compared to Colnago’s cyclocross bike. It can also fit up to four water bottles, necessary when races last 200 miles like Unbound.
Campagnolo Ekar is 1x only and offers a 13-speed cassette. For gravel, Campagnolo sticks to mechanical shifting, unlike Sram and Shimano’s top end gravel groups. The end result means a lighter bike.