I was recently invited to the launch of the Colnago C64, the famous Italian marque’s new top-end race bike and the successor to the much-loved C60.
Colnago C64 frame updates
Colnago has stayed true to its signature lugged carbon construction with the new C64, and while there have been subtle changes to the profile of the tubes and lugs, the silhouette of the new bike is largely similar to the C60.
Monocoque construction has certain advantages, but the flexibility that lugged construction affords allows Colnago to still offer custom geometry on all of its C-series frames, though it admitted these orders now make up a very small portion of its business.
Before anyone even dares think of commenting, Colnago decided to skip the C61, 2 and 3, jumping to the C64 to mark the 64th anniversary of the company.
Starting with changes to the front end of the bike, the new steerer of the redesigned fork is particularly interesting — as these renders show, the steerer is moulded with an internal rib and a channel running down the front of it.
This channel is used to route a brake hose via a proprietary stem (more on this later), through the steerer and into the left leg of the fork.
The internal rib has a 20cm-long nut laminated into the inside of it, negating the need for a star nut. Colnago also claims this internal rib improves front-end stiffness.
The axle-to-crown measurement of the rim-brake version of the fork has been increased by 5mm to add clearance for wider tyres (up to 28mm on the rim brake version of the bike). The dropouts are also now full carbon, replacing the alloy ones used on the C60.
The disc version of the fork is largely the same, though as you’d hope, it is built around a 12mm thru axle.
The headtube retains roughly the same shape as the C60, but Colnago claims it has used a new — and unspecified — technology that has allowed it to reduce the thickness of the carbon used in the lugs. The 3K carbon finish used on the C60’s lugs has been dropped in favour of a more subtle UD finish.
The upper headset cups are made from a “special mix of nylon and elastomers” that Colnago claims give a degree of shock-absorbing qualities. These were also used in the Colnago Concept launched in 2016.
I will always be of the opinion that external cable routing is still the best solution for anything, but a totally aero-focused bike (fight me) – but even I have to to admit the routing for the shifter cables on the C64 is rather elegantly executed.
The one-piece seat tube is a very impressive thing to behold — the entire seat cluster is now integrated into the seat tube, where before the seat cluster was a lug of its own.
As everything is now one peice, this of course means Colnago has to produce 14 different seat tubes for each size of C64, but it claims this design is considerably stiffer and lighter than using a lug for the seat cluster, making the extra complication worth the hassle.
The C64 uses the same D-shaped seatpost that debuted with the V1-R. Colnago claims this post improves comfort compared to the standard 31.6mm seatpost that the C60 used. The stock seatpost has 15mm of setback, but a 30mm and 0mm option will also be available aftermarket.
Colnago says achieving an ultra-low weight was never the focus with the C64, but it’s still pretty feathery, with a 54cm frame coming in at a claimed 905g, a 205g drop from the C60. The disc version is claimed to be a mere 15g heavier than the rim-brake frameset.
ThreadFit 82.5 evolves
We’ve dedicated a separate article to the new(ish) bottom bracket standard used on the C64 and you can read more here.
C64 disc (obviously)
As you would expect, a disc version of the C64 has also been released.
You can look more closely at the disc build here, but the most interesting point has to be the nifty prototype stem Colnago had on show.
This stem has a gaping ‘mouth’ located just underneath the lower faceplate bolts that allows hydraulic hoses to be routed through the bars, into the stem and through the frame/fork, making for an exceptionally clean-looking cockpit.
The alloy stem is currently in the prototyping stages, but Colnago expects the finished product to ship in May/June.
A truly Italian superbike build
To say Colnago spoilt us with our test bikes would be an understatement.
The Campagnolo Super Record groupset the bike was built around is a thing of beauty as were the Campagnolo Bora Ultra wheels, particularly when fitted with a set of incredibly lush 25mm Vittoria Corsa G+ tubular tyres.
Likewise, the Deda Superleggera bars are about as good (and Italian) as it gets if you’re after a super-stiff cockpit.
Colnago C64 first ride impressions
Our 100km test ride around the incredibly windy, exposed and surreal volcanic landscape of Lanzarote started with a gentle cruise along the coast followed by an unpleasantly long and draggy climb.
Pedalling as fiercely as my winter-weary legs would allow, it was clear from the off that the C64 — much like its predecessor — is an incredibly stiff and lively bike; no amount of mashing would elicit any meaningful flex from the frame.
With legs well warmed up, we continued along rolling terrain followed by a very fast descent that was peppered with long and sweeping corners. The super-stiff chassis of the C64 coupled with the excellent direct-mount Super Record brakes meant I could confidently hit these corners at a truly reckless speed.
I was already a big fan of direct-mount brakes and I think Campagnolo’s are among the most powerful on the market. Matching this combination with the Bora wheel’s excellent 3 Diamante braking surface (and the bone-dry conditions) made for what I think is best performing rim-brake combo I have ever used.
After this descent, we rolled along the incredibly exposed coast and I have never been more thankful to not be riding with deep section wheels; I experienced some of the strongest and most gusty headwinds I’ve ever ridden here and the vacuum-like sensation of dropping from the back of the group by even a metre or two was bizarre.
Much to my surprise, there were more than a few rough sections of road on Lanzarote — while the majority of the roads were glass smooth, there were several long sections of properly knackered, chattery gnarmac.
As is to be expected of a super-stiff race bike, the C64 was a bit of a handful on these sections of demi-pavé. The Vittoria tubs obviously went some way to reducing road buzz, but I can’t truly say I detected any meaningful degree of vibration damping from the funky composite headset cups — some more time spent on home terrain would be needed to come to a final conclusion, but I’m dubious.
The ride finished with an 8km-long (and largely straight) descent towards the coast. With a fierce cross wind and a high speed, this was the perfect recipe for a speed wobble, but the bike behaved flawlessly.
Colnago C64 first ride conclusion
I have no doubt in my mind that the C64 is a very, very good bike — Colnago has not become such a well-respected brand for making mediocre bikes and the C64 can definitely be filed under the ‘superbike’ category.
However, I don’t think the C64 presents anything particularly extraordinary in 2018 — it’s still a lugged carbon race bike that is very stiff, very light and very handsome, but it hardly screams innovation.
This maybe speaks more of my tastes than anything else — again, the C64 is clearly a great bike, but I’m not one to buy into the idea of brand heritage or prestige, and I would find it hard to justify the rather heady €4,500 price tag for the frameset when there are more advanced bikes (even in Colnago’s own lineup) out there.
But if you’ve got the cash, love the look of lugs and appreciate the prestige that comes with a famous Italian marque, I have no doubt you will be delighted with the C64.