Call us cynical but we weren't expecting too much from the Strada SL. Colnago's name has enough heritage to sell any bike it's on, so as long as it looked right, this limited edition Wiggle Honda replica could just be a billboard.
- BUY IF… You've always wanted a Colnago but thought you'd never be able to afford one
It's a sign of the respect Colnago still has for its marque that the frame and fork were almost perfectly aligned, while the polygonal frame was certainly light. The carbon-legged fork has the Colnago ace of clubs emblem set into the alloy crown, though the alloy steerer makes it the fork a little heavy.
But the key thing Colnago's experience has bought to the table isn't the tube shaping or laser-etched seat collars. It's the fact that this bike feels right as soon as you jump on it, and it stayed that way through testing.
The head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket are slightly taller than average and a long top tube and 115mm stem make our 54cm frame fit more like a 56cm, but these nuances passed our test team without murmur. Whoever rode the Strada SL just pedalled off contented.
That easily enjoyable 'just get on and ride' feeling of competence also extended throughout the ride. Handling is steady if not dynamic, and it proved confident and capable even during autumn storms, while response to power inputs was prompt if not explosive.
Those big tubes are on the firm side, and potholes rattle through clearly if you're not careful with your choice of line. But unless you're desperate for mudguard or rack fixtures, there's nothing that'll stop you doing anything you want in terms of distance, climbing or descending on this affordable Italian aristocrat and it's certainly not just an exercise in budget branding.