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Colnago C60 Review: The future’s based on a rich heritageBy David McKenzie

My affection for Colnago started back in 2004 – I had just signed a contract with Navigators, an American professional squad that had used the Italian manufacturer’s bikes for some time. We had gained entry to the Tour Down Under at the start of the year and the team boss was eager to get me on one of the team bikes as soon as possible, as in the off season I was on a reputable Italian brand that was a direct rival of Colnago.

Back in the those days it was always a struggle for teams to receive their new bikes in time for the first major race of the year and although we were prepared to receive the new C50, the team brought along a Colnago Dream for me to use for the race. The Dream had been superseded by the C40 and was a mix of alloy main frame with rear carbon chainstays and carbon fork.

I picked up my new bike the morning of the People’s Classic in Adelaide, rode it for an hour that morning and told the director that I’d test it out in the criterium that night. The team mechanic did a great job setting up my position as close as possible to the bike I had been on, I was good to go.

In the end I made the winning break that night and attacked on the final lap, only to be caught in the final 100 metres… Considering I’d only ridden the bike for an hour that morning, I thought this bike lived up to its name – it truly was a dream to ride. It cornered well, it was wonderfully stiff and it seemed to possess intuitive handling – a great first impression, considering that prior to that night I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about Colnago.

Once we returned to Europe for the season ahead we picked up our New Colnago C50s, which of course were a full carbon frame set with the diamond-shaped HP (High Power) rear chainstay. Again, they didn’t disappoint.

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Racing Heritage, Modern Methods

So what is it about the Colnago brand – and more specifically, the new C60 – that makes it stand above the rest?

It’s pretty simple really; when you look at the bike itself, and consider that as a brand they’ve been around for more than 60 years, Colnago has remained true to the traditional frameset geometry. The old adage, ‘If it ain’t broken don’t fix it’ pretty much sums up the company’s ethos. Why? Because they believe in their product!

That’s not to say the company hasn’t been at the cutting edge of design and production techniques – it’s just that after building high end bikes for over 60 years, there’s a lot of confidence in their products that can only come with decades of experience.

In fact, the C60 has in fact done away with the HP Chainstay of the C50, returning to a more traditional rear stay. The new carbon frame set is slightly larger in diameter (especially the downtube) than its predecessor, the focus being on a stronger overall frame set. Other subtle changes are the round seat tube, bottom bracket lugs and CNC-machined one-piece dropouts. All of this and still the bikes are put together one-by-one in the factory in Cambiago, Italy. One of the few major bike brands that stay true to their origins in the high end market.

If I had to sum up the key elements that put Colnago above the rest – I’d say it’s the ‘one percenters’. In an industry that has experienced some major technological advances in the last 10-15 years, they haven’t let the marketers influence their design.

To the naked eye, the frame set is still quite traditional looking, but is as advanced as any other brand. It’s a paradox that seems unique to Colnago, when compared to most of the other major brands.

The finish of the bike is all in the classic Italian flavor, albeit in a modern context. The paint work, logos, Ernesto Colnago’s signature and the way the graphics seamlessly match (in true Italian style) haven’t changed too much over the years… But that’s the appeal. No mega marketing claims and no gimmicks, just some of the best-riding bikes you’re likely to find anywhere on the market.

Speaking of which, the paintwork on this particular frame is a tip of the hat to the Lampre team C40s that gained such widespread acclaim and cult status amongst aficionados all those years ago. The Buzz made reference to the fact last year when this model arrived on Australian shores.

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All terrain, all the time… Even on cobbles

When it comes to handling and feel The C60 – like its counterparts before it – does not disappoint.

The subtle changes to the frame, such as the beefed-up tubing and lugwork, is what takes it up another notch. Ask anyone who has ridden one of Colnago’s bikes and they’ll tell you that they always handle well – the notable difference in comparison to the C50 and the Dream is the rigidity of the frame.

It’s like Colnago has married that classic comfortable feel for which they’re known with the stiffness and handling performance that is demanded from a modern race bike.

Having it under me as I tackled all of the main sectors in the Paris-Roubaix challenge ride certainly gave me confidence to hit them at full throttle, knowing that the bike would stand up to the punishment.

I can’t say I was ever a pave specialist during my professional years but the C60 looked after me and certainly made the ride as enjoyable as it could be. That counts for a lot when you’re bumping and grinding over centuries-old cobbles.

And when it came to the narrow farm roads and sudden corners that pop up around Flanders, once again it rose to the challenge and handled as expected. Second to none.

Heritage counts – it’s not all about numbers

Many bike brands try too hard to be the lightest or under a certain weight. In the end something has to give. The Colnago C60 is certainly not one of the lightest on the market. With a claimed weight of 1,050 grams for a painted 52cm frame, it’s anywhere from 100-300 grams heavier than many of Colnago’s main competitors.

Don’t let that little extra weight influence you too much however, because if anything that weight ‘penalty’ means added durability and a smooth ride, which can only be a good thing when you drop your hard-earned on this special Italian piece of equipment.

Most of all, I love that the latest models are made with the same passion as when the brand started in 1952, meaning I get a little slice of Italian style and heritage in my lounge room!

Want to ride with former professional rider, SBS TV Cycling pundit and all-round nice guy Dave McKenzie on one of his signature riding tours in Europe?

Click here for details of the upcoming trip to the Vuelta a España, which includes visits to the incredibly beautiful Basque Country and rides on some of the best-known mountains in the Pyrenees… Get in quickly before it sells out!

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