Compared with all-carbon offerings, Colnago’s classy-looking Air, combining metal and carbon fibre, seems a little under-specced. The 6061 aluminium frame has a hydroformed hexagonal top tube and down tube, and a seat tube that flares along its length, broadening out where it meets the bottom bracket junction, while the seatstays are carbon fibre.
Highs: Great looks and good kit, and the Air offers a balanced ride with stable, reassuring handling
Lows: Weight translates to sluggish acceleration and climbing, and we’re not sure the carbon seatstays add much comfort
Buy if: You’re a stronger rider looking for a tough aluminium racer
The Shimano 105 kit is pretty much the standard at this price. It works well, and should do for a long time, and the performance doesn’t seem to be compromised by the non-series R565 chainset.
The Tiagra cassette doesn’t have the more knee-friendly gears of some other bikes, and the 11-25 sprockets combined with the bike’s slightly portly weight can make steeper or longer climbs a chore. It descends confidently, though, with Shimano’s quite modest but solid R500 wheels and the stiff frame coming into their own.
Braking, courtesy of own-brand dual callipers, is excellent, and Conti’s Ultra Sport tyres offer a decent amount of grip too. But the overall weight and far-from-light wheels mean acceleration is sluggish compared with the opposition.
Overall, the Air failed to live up to its Latin heritage and lightweight name. The rest of the frame is so beefy we weren’t convinced that the effects of the carbon seatstays – there to add shock-absorbing qualities to the ride – could be felt at all.
Had Colnago followed the modern trend of skinnier stays these might have introduced more plushness, though the chunky aluminium wishbone and oversize Deda seatpost don’t help when it comes to rear-end cushioning either. The bar and stem are suitably stiff for uncompromised handling, though.
The Air is far from being a bad bike, but at this price it has to bring more than good looks and a great name to the party, and with some £1,000 bikes weighing less and having the same kit and wheels, we’re not quite convinced it does. It won’t let you down, and the solid ride might be a good choice for strong, powerful riders.
Colnago air:Russell Burton
42, 45, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58cm sizes, Continental Ultra Sport 700x23c tyre