When we received the C12 Plus, the importer had set the price at £1749; considering this included Campagnolo’s excellent Athena 11-speed groupset, Fulcrum racing 7 wheels and finishing kit from FSA, it seemed reasonably good value. At the end of our testing period though, the price had dropped to £1349.99, and that makes the C12 pretty special.
The C12 bucks the trend for tapered head-tubes with a standard 11/8in tube. The main frame tubes are oversized and ovalised, adding rigidity to the chassis, and the rear end continues the theme with a large, flat seatstay junction and sculpted, oversize chainstays all combining to create a bike with a solid feel.
While the C12 wears its sportive ambitions on its sleeve, with a tall head-tube, comfy saddle and relaxed handling, it doesn’t follow the current trend for 100mm stems, fitted to shorten the reach and give a more upright, distance-friendly position. The Battaglin’s 130mm stem on our large bike gives a more stretched position without being too extreme.
The relaxed handling, longer position and smooth rolling Vittoria tyres make for a bike you can use to pile on the miles. It’s not particularly sharp or quick to accelerate, and though it doesn’t handle rougher road surfaces that well, the slower reaction to steering input and its long position mean this never evolves from discomfort to drama. Vibration through the bar is pretty minimal, helped by the longer stem taking most of the input, and though the rear end does transmit plenty, it’s nulled by the deeply padded Selle Italia saddle.
The 11-speed drivetrain with compact 50/34 up front and 12-25 out back gives an ample spread of gears for most gradients. Campagnolo Athena also shows a big jump in quality and performance from equivalently priced bikes. Compared to Shimano it’s the equal of Ultegra. While the Battaglin isn’t the most refined of bikes, it still represents great value for money. The frame is nicely put together and plenty light, and at its current price the C12 offers a class-leading spec, making it hard to ignore.