Colnago CLX 2.0 Ultegra - First ride £2599.95

Impressive road machine

BikeRadar score 4/5

The CLX 2.0 is Colnago’s top carbon frameset, and for 2010 it’s been on a diet, dropping more than 100g compared to the original CLX. Despite a disappointing wheel package, it's an impressive machine.

Ride & handling: Sublime handling inspires absolute confidence

Though it’s not as light as other £2,500 bikes – 18lb (8.25kg) for a 57cm model, which is partly down to the wheels but also because the frameset is heavier than some of its rivals – the Colnago still excels in everything it does.

The quality frame combines with Colnago's excellent CLX 2.0 fork to produce a ride that's similar to the Italian company's flagship bike, the EPS – one of the best-handling bikes we’ve ever tested.

When you’re sprinting out of the saddle, the huge chainstays keep the back end perfectly in check, though the CLX feels a little softer in the saddle than the EPS; it’s not quite as poised, though it is a classy performer in its own right.

The handling is sublime, the riding position superb and it inspires absolute confidence. Yes, it’s a couple of hundred grammes heavier than some others. However, if it were to be criticised or dismissed because of that, it’d be a real shame, because the CLX’s ride is not be missed.

Frame: Made in the Far East, but thoroughly Italian in design

Normally it wouldn’t be worth mentioning where a frame is made, since nearly everything carbon originates from the Far East, but with Colnago it’s different. Fans love the Italian heritage of Colnago bikes, marking out the brand from everyone else.

The Taiwanese-made CLX isn’t just another ‘me too’ carbon frame, though. The design and testing all originates in Italy, so it will perform just as well as the company’s domestic line-up – just without quite the same price implications.

The front end is a monocoque design, with defined ribbed sidewalls on the top tube and down tube that are claimed to give the frame extra rigidity under side loads. The rear triangle is lugged, with super-deep-profile chainstays as on the EPS. On the CLX they’re combined with arched seatstays rather than the straight ones of the EPS.

Equipment: Wheels let down an otherwise excellent spec

The CLX 2.0 is available in Ultegra or Dura-Ace versions and we’ve tested the former, which has a combination of Shimano’s new Ultegra and FSA’s excellent Team Issue crankset; this carbon compact is easily the equal of the Shimano parts surrounding it, and the bike shifts faultlessly.

The cockpit kit comes from FSA too: the superb short drop Wing Pro Compact and a long oversized stem. This makes for a very stable front end when combined with the excellent fork; it tracks superbly but does an excellent job of reducing road buzz.

Braking is handled by Colnago’s own X-Brake One. ‘Own-brand’ often means a cost-saving cheap unit has been fitted, but that’s not the case with the X-Brake One. Looking like a cross between a Campag Skeleton and an FSA unit, the X-Brake offers superb stopping power and is as good as the Ultegra unit we expected to see – even with a colour-matched finish that looks super-slick with the frame.

The wheels are Racing 5s from fellow Italians Fulcrum. These are one up from the base model, and decent enough on their own, but even though they’ve been improved over the previous version for 2010, with a slight weight reduction, they’re still outclassed on a frame of this calibre. Really, we’re surprised to see a mid-range wheelset on a bike that retails for over £2,500.

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