A quality bike but at a premium price due to the name, we got to grips with the Colnago CLX
Founded in 1952, Colnago is one of the most famous names in cycling. Ernesto Colnago started off producing his own steel frames and also worked as a race mechanic for the teams of Fiorenzo Magni and Eddy Merckx among others.
The company was an innovator in the design of its bikes and the use of new tube profiles and materials, including carbon-fibre.
The company has also been bike sponsor to at least one professional cycling team every year since 1974, currently Wiggle-High5 and Gazprom-RusVelo.
The CLX sits in the middle of Colnago’s racing range, with the C60 and V1-r above it and the AC-r and aluminium Strada SL below.
Colnago was an early adopter of disc brakes on its road bikes, but unlike these other bikes, discs are not offered as an option on the CLX.
Colnago’s CLX frame is a monocoque design with integrated carbon-fibre dropouts, and a claimed sub-kilogram weight.
It features Colnago’s own Threadfit 82.5 bottom bracket — a wide design with lightweight threaded aluminium bearings, which Colnago claims leads to better reliability than a push-fit standard.
The down tube and head tube are overbuilt for rigidity and the fork is all-carbon and tapered. There are truncated aerofoil profiles to the down tube and seatstays and all the cables are routed internally.
The frame is made in the Far East rather than Cambiago, but it is UCI-approved and bears Ernesto Colnago’s signature on the top tube.
The Colnago CLX comes with a full Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset. Although it’s part of Colnago’s Racing line, it has a compact 50/34 chainset and an 11-28t cassette.
The bars and stem are Deda aluminium models — anodised white — while there’s a white Colnago branded Selle Italia saddle with a central cut-out, sitting on a carbon seatpost.
The CLX comes with Fulcrum Racing 5LG wheels and 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres. Although these are well-made, quality items they can really only be considered training wheels on a bike at this price.
Anyone buying the CLX should be budgeting for a wheel upgrade to better match the competences of Colnago’s frame.
Although the CLX has quite a long head tube at 18cm, its longish reach, coupled with a 12cm stem mean that the ride position is lower and more aggressive than you’d expect. Added to the substantial tube profiles and bottom bracket, this leads to a spirited ride.
Heading out on fast roads, you can really keep up a good pace — which the bike seems to demand. On descents, it feels stable enough for fast riding too and tracks well through fast turns.
Riding North Devon’s long, gradual ascents, the good power transfer from the stiff frame made climbing effective, while the compact gearing came into its own on shorter, more brutal climbs.
There’s enough compliance built into the frame to take on longer rides on bumpy surfaces too, although I did find the Selle Italia saddle wasn’t quite as comfortable as some alternatives.
Thinking about switching to Shimano Ultegra?
At £3,500, the Colnago CLX is not a cheap bike. Its Shimano Ultegra groupset is on a par with that offered on some other bikes at this price point, although many mainstream competitors will be offering Shimano Dura-Ace or Campagnolo Chorus.
Speccing a £250 wheelset with mid-range tyres on the CLX seems a bit anomalous too. On the other hand, the finishing kit and its bespoke Colnago detailing are a quality touch.
Colnago seems to have put its resources into the frame, and you’d expect to pay a bit extra for a bike from a lower volume manufacturer — as well as for that prestige name.
The CLX definitely has the Colnago heritage stamped on its quality frame and performance bias. It’s a bike that feels more lively and reactive than its geometry and specification might suggest. But at this price, it is a bit let down by its wheelset. Swapping out the Fulcrums for a set of deep-section Edco carbon clinchers brought out the bike’s handling qualities — and also looked much more the part. Anyone opting for the all-white model will need to spend plenty of time keeping it clean too. The frame scrubs up well, but the bar tape and particularly the saddle looked distinctly off-colour after a few hundred miles on UK roads. Although billed as a race machine, in truth the CLX seems more like a bike aimed for the club run and Gran Fondo rider. And it will serve them well and lend the kudos of a famous name along with a comfortable but lively ride