Colnago is a brand with serious heritage but we don’t see that many through the door. However, their frames have an Italian flair and style that remains unique and their ride quality is legendary.
After Ernesto Colnago’s racing career was cut short by a bad crash he opened a bike shop in 1952 in Cambiago, near Milan, Italy. As well as building frames he was much in demand as a race mechanic and was head mechanic for the Molteni team of Eddy Merckx in the 1960’s. Colnago became known for building the highest quality custom steel racing frames.
The bulk of their range is designed in Italy but build in Taiwan (along with most of the rest of the bike industry’s carbon frames). However, their flagship ‘C-series’ frames remain 100% Italian made. There’s a lot of composite expertise in Italy (think Ferrari) and Colnago frame construction is outsourced to a specialist. Likewise the painting - they wanted the best so rather than do it in house they found a specialist which means a 6 hour round trip for each frame.
The current C60 is an all round race bike but it can trace its root back to the C40 which won 5 editions of the Paris-Roubaix in a 6 year period on the 1990’s. It might not be sold as an endurance bike but the comfort levels put many that are to shame. The chainstays taper dramatically towards the dropouts and wide, flat, seatstays are designed to work in conjunction with the chainstays to improve rear comfort. Eschewing the trend for using 27.2 posts for flex and comfort here we have solid 31.6mm post. Colnago tune the ride using the frame rather than the ancillaries which is more controllable as seatpost flex will depend on rider leg length.
Lugs and tubes are a construction method most closely associated with steel bikes but Colnago retain that technique in Carbon on the C59 and C60. However, these are not simple tubes - the complex star shape harks back to the crimped steel tube ‘Master’ frames of the 1980s but here there are internal ribs as well to further enhance the lateral stiffness without removing vertical compliance. The junction of tube and lug is a thing of beauty.
Colnago don’t chase ultra light weight with their bikes - they’re built to be strong. They believe the standard Euro EN14781 impact test is too low and for a frame to bear the Colnago logo, it must exceed the impact test minimum by three-and-a-halftimes. The C60 goes even beyond that to five times greater than the EN minimum.
The C60 takes a push fit bottom bracket with the stiffness benefits that come from the wider shell it allows. However, push fit bb’s mounted directly into carbon frames are notorious for creaking so Colnago have developed a replaceable threaded cup into which the push fit bb is installed. They take a similar approach for the headset.
So strong. Laterally stiff. Vertically compliant. BB and headset designed for a long life. All only any good if it rides well. No fear on that count - Road CC said: “Sensational performance with unflappable handling, the C60 is in a class of its own”. Bikeradar gave 5 stars. Cycling Weekly said it’s “so good it might be the last bike you'll ever need”
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