The C60 is the top-of-the-line road bike from one of the most famous names in cycling – we've tested Colnago's latest superbike
Ernesto Colnago’s bikes have been ridden by the biggest names in cycling. He was Eddy Merckx’s frame builder in the 1970s and was bike sponsor to the all-conquering Mapei team in the 1990s, with the legendary C40 the first carbon bike to win Paris-Roubaix in 1995. It’s also been the marque behind a string of other race-winning teams over the years.
Merckx set the hour record in 1972 on a Colnago and the brand has marketed a string of race bike innovations, including in 1989 the first carbon fibre bike frame. All its machines are decked out with the famous Colnago ace of clubs head tube badge.
Today, Colnago supplies the C60 to UAE Team Emirates and the Wiggle-High5 women’s team.
Colnago C60 frame
The Colnago C60 is the company’s flagship road race frame, handmade in Italy. Unusually, it’s a lugged carbon frame with the tubes glued into the strengthened joining pieces. The top tube and down tube have a squared-off star shaped section, which Colnago says increases rigidity.
All the tubes are butted so that they’re thinner in the middle than at the ends to save weight. The down tube is beefy, while the seat tube is asymmetric, with all cables routed internally and under Colnago’s own Screwfit bottom bracket shell. This leads to really good power transfer and an eager ride feel.
Despite its power transfer credentials, the Colnago C60 is designed to be comfortable to ride for long distances, with tapered chainstays and flattened seatstays. It uses alloy dropouts for their strength and reliability. But at this price, other makers are increasingly including aero and integration features in their top-end machines. This is something that is lacking in the C60 but that Colnago does provide in the newly launched V2-R.
Colnago offers the C60 in nine sizes with sloping top tubes, starting at 42cm and going up to 60cm. There are a further five sizes with horizontal top tubes and five more with longer head tubes, so there’s a huge range of geometries to suit different rider sizes and styles. There’s also a range of nine different colours and a disc-brake option.
Colnago sizes its frames by the seat tube length, so the size 50 tested is significantly larger than it sounds.
The finish on our Colnago C60 looks fantastic, with gloss-coated carbon weave, silver logos and luminescent crimson and blue highlights. Ernesto Colnago’s signature graces the top tube.
Colnago sells the C60 as a frameset only, with our test bike coming kitted out with the spec that it deserves. So there’s a full (previous generation) Dura-Ace R9000 mechanical groupset. This reminds you just how good Dura-Ace was even before its recent upgrade.
Gearing is on the high side with a semi-compact 52/36 chainset and an 11-25 cassette. So you don’t get a very low ratio for steeper climbs, although this does lead to smaller jumps further up the range.
Wheels are Vision Metron 40 carbon clinchers with a wide semi-deep aero profile and a claimed weight of just under 1,500g. They come with 25mm Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyres. They look smart, roll well and complement the C60’s racing lines. At around £1,500 retail, they’re a good match to the frameset’s performance; too often manufacturers skimp on wheels, even on high-priced bikes.
The aero-profile Metron 4D carbon bars come from Vision too, and include internal cable routing. The wide tops are comfortable as well as providing aero benefits. Other finishing kit is Colnago branded: an alloy stem, 31.6mm carbon setback seatpost and Selle Italia SLR saddle.
You can feel the Colnago C60’s racing pedigree in its responsive ride. It feels like a bike that wants to be ridden fast, with excellent power transfer through its chunky bottom bracket and solid rear triangle. The wheels produce a satisfying hum too, although I had to tape the valves to eliminate an annoying rattle. They brake well in the dry with their supplied pads, although harder braking generates a loud squeal.
With its impressive light weight and solid platform for power transfer the C60 climbs well, although I could have done with a wider range cassette than the 11-25 supplied. On rolling roads, I found I was shifting to the smaller chainring more often than I would have liked.
Descending was fast, stable and pinpoint accurate. The C60 is also surprisingly comfortable for longer rides, although a more modern narrow seatpost would make for slightly less transmission of road bumps through the saddle.
At around £8,000 for the complete bike, the Colnago C60 is right up there with top bikes from other makes. With its racing heritage, it has the pedigree to stand against them too.
Component wise, the Vision carbon pieces work well and the Selle Italia saddle is comfortable. And you get an extra dose of the Colnago logo on the rest of the kit. But the lugged construction and wide seatpost along with the lack of integration and aero features make the C60 frameset feel a bit dated.
The C60 comes with a historic brand name and quality craftsmanship, with looks and ride feel to back it up. It’s a really nice machine to ride – fast on the flat and with good handling both up and downhill. But it lacks the more modern specification and aero features of many of its competitors at this price, so ultimately you’re buying into the Colnago brand and its mystique, along with the chance to choose your own specification, as much as the C60’s design features.