Hands down, the Colnago C60 has been one of our favourite road bikes here at Bespoke Cycling. Barry was smitten when he rode the C60 last year, and we've built loads of stunning bikes as these examples in the Build Gallery prove.
Why is it so popular? It's a classic, a bike that traces its history back to the C40, one of the most iconic race bikes of the last 20+ years. Conceived by Ernesto Colnago at a time when steel frames still ruled the peloton and bike companies were experimenting, often with disastrous consequences, with alternative materials and construction methods.
Its enduring popularity is due to that legacy, and despite increasingly lightweight and uber advanced frames from the big players (mostly American) in the cycling market at present, there's something appealing about a bike that is handmade in Italy using a tube and lug construction method that provides a tangible visual connection to race bikes of yesteryear.
But time marches on and forces progress, and to mark 64 years since Ernesto founded his company, and on his 86th birthday, there's a brand new bike, the C64. The name might be misleading perhaps but is indicative of the refined nature of the updated bike, less revolution and more evolution.
"This year is the 64th anniversary of the company and this bike really a Colnago bike, so we put all our passion into this bike and this project," explained Ernesto Colnago at the worldwide launch recently.
He adds: "This bike is the new C64, an evolution of the C40 which was the first carbon bike to win Paris-Roubaix, a race we won five times. And then the C50 and all the C series, all the bikes were made in Italy and this one is also made in Italy and we are still the biggest Italian frame maker of carbon fibre. And we are very proud of this project."
So let's dive into what's new, and why the C64 might be the new bike for you this year.
First and foremost, and good news for fans of wide tyres (which admit it is most of these days) the new C64 will now take a 28mm tyre. There's enough evidence out there now that shows 28mm tyres provide as good as, if not better, rolling resistance than narrower tyres, with lower pressures providing more cushioning and traction on rough UK roads.
Secondly, the new C64 is lighter. Okay, so it's not going to compete with Specialized, Trek, Parlee or Cervelo when it comes to a game of Top Trumps, but weight has never been a primary concern for the Italian company, instead, a focus on handling and durability has always come before the scales.
However, a slew of changes has resulted in a noticeable weight loss. The rim brake frameset is 205g lighter and the disc brake version drops 270g, with just 15g separating the two frames. Colnago places a size 54 frame at about 850g so it's well within realms of similarly priced frames.
Those changes have come courtesy of a new seat tube that features an integrated seat clamp, with the seatpost borrowed from the V2-r, which both improves aerodynamics and seated comfort. The head tube lug has thinner walls, cable routing is now moulded into the bottom bracket, which houses the ThreadFit82.5 system that our mechanics love working on.
Brand new is the fork, saving 40g thanks to carbon dropouts on the rim brake version (they were aluminium on the C60) with a specially shaped steerer tube designed to accommodate fully internal cable and brake hose routing, along with a stiffening rib that does away with the conventional top tube bung. The new fork also has a new rib section that is claimed to both improve compliance and lateral stiffness.
The chainstays and dropouts are moulded as one, and asymmetric to increase stiffness. The downtube features a new internal cable routing approach that is not dissimilar to other new bikes this year, and the bottle cage is slightly recessed to both serve as improved aero and stiffen the down tube.
As with the C60, there is a disc brake version. It shares the same updates as the rim brake C64 but uses new threaded carbon dropouts for the 12mm thru-axles rather than the previous Hexlock design that the company developed in tandem with suspension specialist Manitou when it first dabbled with disc brakes a few years ago. The flat mounts are moulded into the carbon chainstay and fork.
See the full range of colour options in the image gallery on our online shop, where you can also pre-order your own C64.
We'll have to wait until we get it on UK roads, but a first ride around the wind-beaten roads of Lanzarote at the worldwide launch was enough to realise the new C64 is a worthy successor to the previous C60.
Not only has Colnago retained the distinctive aesthetic of the C60, it has also retained the handling attributes of that bike in the new C64. Colnago likes to talk a lot about how important handling is, above and beyond the lowest weight and highest stiffness figures, and there really is something delightful about the way the C64 handles.
The Colnago C60 has long been a Bespoke favourite. This handmade Italian steed has always been right near the top of any wish-list even in the face of lighter and more aero competition from other bike brands, and it's consistently proved itself as one of the best handling road bikes money can buy.
Spearheading the changes on this new C64 is the wider tyre clearance, something that is met with delight from the Bespoke team. The trend for wider tyres is one that has really taken off in the last few years which is no surprise given the generally poor state of British roads, providing more comfort at lower pressures. There's also plenty of evidence showing they offer superior rolling resistance. So smother and faster, what's not to like?
Redesigning the fork and remodelling the rear stays has opened up the C64 to accommodate 28mm wide tyres from any tyre brand, and there's slightly more space on the disc version. That's an immediate win in our books. Yet, Colnago has managed to increase the tyre clearance without altering the geometry, so the same great handling of the previous model is retained in this new bike. We've only ridden the new bike briefly with 25mm tyres, we've not yet experienced it with 28mm rubber. That will come soon though.
On the move, the new C64 feels lighter and sharper. It's a dynamically exciting bike when the road twists and curves through the hills, but it's steadfastly composed on the long cruise. The C60 was always a bike you felt you could ride all day in great comfort, yet it could handle itself in a road race or fast-paced group ride. The C64 is no different, but it feels it would be even more impressive when the riding gets more demanding.
Redesigning the fork with a new ribbed section and refining the head tube lug has increased front-end stiffness so the new bike feels ever-so-slightly more precise when steering through bends and making sudden changes in direction. Yet it's sporty without getting harsh on rougher roads, with a bit of extra compliance noticeable from the fork to the rear-end with the new D-shaped seatpost.
We were only given two short rides to assess the new bike, we'll want to spend more time on the new C64 on familiar UK roads, but the brevity of our time aboard the new bike was enough for us to give it the big thumbs up.
Eurobike is the world's biggest bike show and has been running for 26 years in Germany, and last week Bespoke trudged the many massive halls of the Messe Friedrichshafen...Read more
Please join us in celebrating Colnago, Italy's most iconic cycling brand and purveyors of la bella vita! We're hosting a Colnago event at our Gresham Street store and we'd...Read more
The 11th in our series of best builds of 2014 is this Colnago C60 Racing Black. Italian heritage, Italian designed and Italian built. Colnago are legendary. Campagnolo Super...Read more