Col­nago C64

A well-bal­anced mix of tra­di­tion and in­no­va­tion

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - Matthew Pioro re­viewed by

A well-bal­anced mix of tra­di­tion and in­no­va­tion

Ifirst rode the Col­nago C64 for a hot minute in Jan­uary. The bike had its North Amer­i­can launch in Tucson, Ariz., so by noon that day, it was nicely warm. By late af­ter­noon, the test ride was over, which was tech­ni­cally longer than a minute, yes, but a short ride none­the­less. Months later, the C64 ar­rived at my of­fice for some more ex­ten­sive test­ing.

Col­nago’s C se­ries started in the early ’ 90s with the C40. It wasn’t the first bike made from car­bon-fi­bre tubes, but it fea­tured a frame ma­te­rial that was still novel for the pro pelo­ton. Giorgio Squinzi, the head of Mapei, wor­ried that the bike wasn’t strong enough to han­dle the cob­bles of Paris-roubaix. Franco Bal­lerini won in Roubaix in 1995 on the C40. Three more ParisRoubaix wins came on the bike in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Like the C40, the C64 is made in Italy with car­bon-fi­bre tubes fit into car­bon-fi­bre lugs. It’s a process with more sim­i­lar­i­ties to the way Ernesto Col­nago fash­ioned steel frames than with the con­tem­po­rary car­bon-fi­bre pro­duc­tion process that uses moulds. The tubes of the C64 – as with the pre­vi­ous C model, the C60 – have a fluted, star-shape. On the new frame, the head-tube lug and fork blades have in­dents, which are new weight-sav­ing de­sign el­e­ments. In the seat-tube lug, there’s an al­loy seat clamp. You ad­just your seat­post by loos­en­ing or tight­en­ing a bolt tucked un­der the seat-tube lug. This sys­tem saves about 15 g. The D shape seat­post comes from Col­nago’s V2-R, while the up­per cups at the head­set come from the Con­cept aero bike. These cups are made with car­bon fi­bre, ny­lon and elas­tomers, and help to dam­pen road vi­bra­tions. My test bike was a rim-brake model, how­ever, there’s also a disc-brake ver­sion avail­able.

While the C se­ries bikes used to be built with Col­nago’s tra­di­tional ge­om­e­try – fea­tur­ing a hor­i­zon­tal top tube – and slop­ing ge­om­e­try, the C64 frame comes in nine sizes of slop­ing. Also, there are four high-ge­om­e­try op­tions that have head tubes that are 15 mm taller (20 mm in the case of the 56h) than their slop­ing sib­lings. For tra­di­tional ge­om­e­try, you’ll have to took to Col­nago’s steel frames. While I usu­ally ride a Size 54 frame, the 50s C64 fit me per­fectly.

I’ve rid­den a num­ber of Ital­ian su­per frames, all of which were, in fact, su­per. The C64, how­ever, seems the most bal­anced. It steers beau­ti­fully into and through cor­ners. It zips for­ward ef­fort­lessly when I press on the ped­als. Yet, it’s per­fectly content to cruise along. I had some glo­ri­ous long rides on this bike. If I felt shat­tered at the end, it was from go­ing too hard, not from any harsh­ness in the frame. I didn’t find any pavé à la Roubaix, but about 5-km of gravel was my lo­cal equiv­a­lent. The bike with its 25c tires was fine on the rocky roads. The frame can ac­com­mo­date 28c treads, which han­dle the bumps bet­ter.

As you might ex­pect, the bike I tested came spec’d with Cam­pag­nolo com­po­nents. The me­chan­i­cal Su­per Record gruppo per­formed well, its chain mak­ing Campy’s tell­tale ker­chunk when it switched to a new cog. If you’d like to spec your C se­ries bike with Shi­mano, as Mapei did, you can. With the proper fin­ish­ing kit, you can have your bike out­fit­ted with Shi­mano, Campy or sram groupsets, me­chan­i­cal or elec­tri­cal.

Af­ter that short first ride, and the long wait for a test bike, I had the plea­sure of rid­ing the C64 for months. It’s a bike that had me ne­glect­ing my reg­u­lar ride, with­out any feel­ings of guilt. Af­ter all, I knew once the C64 was gone, those few months with the bike would feel like only a hot minute.

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