By Simon Smythe
The ‘C’ series is the jewel in Colnago’s crown. By tradition handmade in Italy, simultaneously artisan and hi-tech, the launch of a new lugged-carbon Colnago C64 has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the cycling world.
The new Colnago C64 – ‘C’ for carbon and ‘64’ for the number of years since Ernesto Colnago founded his business in Cambiago, Italy in 1954 – traces its heritage directly back to the C40, which was in 1995 the first carbon bike to win Paris-Roubaix, marking the end of the road for steel and aluminium frames.
Despite the domination of the Far East-produced monocoque in the 21st century, the C64 is the latest Colnago to prove that style never goes out of fashion – and its sponsorship of the UAE Emirates WorldTour team proves that its handmade bikes are also still designed to be raced at the highest level. A collaboration with Danish bearing specialist CeramicSpeed for a new proprietary bottom bracket for the C64 underlines this.
Colnago C64: two years of research
Colnago says the C64 is the fruit of almost two years of research, during which new tubes that are larger, lighter and more durable than those of the C60, its predecessor, were designed. The most obvious difference, both visually and in its construction, is in the C64’s seat tube.
Instead of the seat tube being bonded into the lug at the top tube/seatstay juncture, the seat tube and lug are a single piece, which increases stiffness and lowers weight. Even the largest C64 frame, the 60cm, weighs under a kilo while the smallest, 42cm, weighs 850g.
Colnago has further streamlined the look of the seat tube by integrating the seatpost clamp. This is now tightened via a single bolt under the top tube: Colnago says not only does this save about 15g but the bottom-pull concept also provides better locking strength.
The head tube has been reshaped and now includes what almost resembles a triangular cut-out either side, emphasised by some of the Colnago C64’s six paint schemes. Colnago says this is to save weight but also claims an increase in side stiffness.
The all-new fork has a shape that echoes the cut-out feature of the head tube and Colnago claims extra ribs make it stiffer. It has an additional rib in the steerer tube that also contains the nut for the stem top-cap bolt, eliminating the need for an expander plug and saving a few more grams.
The aluminium dropouts of the C60 have been replaced by full carbon for the Colnago C64 (that goes for the rear dropouts too) and the fork weight is 355g – 40g lighter than the C60 fork.
As for the headset, the Colnago C64 has brought in the upper cups from the Concept. These are made of a polymer composed of carbon-fibre and a mix of nylon and elastomers, claimed to absorb road vibration.
Colnago also revised the shape of the down tube, narrowing it to more closely match the rear triangle – contrasting with the monster down tube of the C60.
It features a new recessed bottle cage area that creates two long ribs around the middle of the down tube. Although the C64 is by no means an aerodynamic frame, the recessed bottle is intended to give an aero advantage over a traditional mounting position.
The proprietary ThreadFit82.5 bottom bracket shell, launched with the C60, is carried over but for the C64 Colnago has collaborated with CeramicSpeed to produce its own new threaded, wider bottom bracket, with best-in-class bearings.
Asymmetry is also introduced for the chainstays for the first time: the non-driveside has a wider insertion point into the bottom bracket lug.
The disc version gets threaded 12mm thru-axles and slightly narrower chainstays than the rim-brake bike. Since it doesn’t have the added stiffness of thru-axles Colnago has given the rim-brake bike the wider chainstays.
Both bikes have clearance for 28mm tyres.Of course both seatpost and stem are C64 specific: the stem routes the hydraulic brake cable internally for the disc fork. Both are included in the frameset price.
Colnago C64 weight
As usual, Colnago says weight is not its priority – rather safety, with its frames exceeding the ISO-EN minimums by a large margin. However, the C64 as a frameset – including the fork – is around 205g lighter than the C60 and the disc C64 is 270g lighter than the disc C60. Colnago says the disc C64 is only 15g heavier than the rim brake version. The largest size 60cm rim-brake frame still comes in comfortably sub-kilo while the smallest size 42cm weighs 850g.
The Colnago C64 is available in four ‘standard’ paint schemes and two Art Décor and in disc or rim-brake. There are two geometry options – sloping or ‘high head tube’ and 14 sizes in total.The C64 is also available in four Campagnolo complete builds (all Super Record mechanical or EPS from £8,999.95 to £10,299.95); two Shimano Dura-Ace (mechanical at £7,799.95 or Di2 £8,999.95) or SRAM eTap (£8,899.95).
Rim brake, standard paint £4,099.95
Rim brake, Art Decor paint £4,499.95
Disc brake, standard paint £4,599.95
Disc brake Art Décor paint £4,999.95
Until we actually pedal one it’s difficult to say what sort of effect Colnago’s latest innovations have had on the flagship model’s legendary ride quality, but it’s clear Colnago has been working hard to improve on the C60 – itself a dream bike – in all areas while keeping the unique, instantly recognisable and now classic lugged-carbon aesthetic.
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