It's pricey at £1,799 and we haven't ridden it yet but the new Classica from Colnago seems to pull off that old 'sum is greater than the parts' equation quite well, at least on paper for now.
The Classica is based on the existing 'Ace' carbon monocoque sportive frame which we have ridden and very nice it is, too. That carries on at the beginning of the exotic Colnago carbon range as a comfortable and stable all day racer. But for the new Classica, the Italians have done that thing you often see in Italy but hardly ever here; they've swapped the handlebars on the Ace for a pair of upright flatties and fitted city-bike shifters and brake levers to make an even more comfortable and upright machine that you will still be happy to ride all day. It's just that you'll be breaking it up with a stop at a café, then a nice lunch and maybe another drop into a pub on the way home. It's a 75km-in-a-day bike if the Ace is designed to be ridden 150km over the same period.
What this Classica isn't is a Dutch-style expedition tourer with flat bars - what they call a trekker - even if it does have a triple chainset with a 30-tooth smallest chainring. The geometry is still 73° parallel classic-racer-style, so its relatively short wheelbase will get twitchy if you start loading it up with hefty panniers but then you'll search in vain for places to attach a pannier rack anyway and let's look and see how much room there is for fatter touring tyres and fenders? Whoops.
No, the closest equivalent we can think of here is the hell-for-leather but now-defunct carbon Trek FX 7.9 which up until this year was also around at this price, maybe a bit more at £2,000. They couldn't sell too many of those out-and-out flat-barred street racers and it had a better spec on paper than this Colnago. Maybe Trek made the mistake of making the 7.9 look too overtly hard-core sporty with a bare carbon finish? Perhaps the rider it was supposed to appeal to was shamed by our snooty nouveau sportif shops into buying a bike with dropped bars when in Italy it is perfectly respectable to ride upright in a dignified manner on a bike with a sporting heart.
Unlike the Trek, however, this new Colnago will look at home on the Tweed Run wearing a pair of Quoc Pham leather touring shoes and if you're up for spending £150 on touring shoes, then you're probably happy with £1,799 too and why not?
If you do need to feel better about that price for a bicycle, consider this. Emboldened by their recent helmet collaboration with Gucci the folks at Bianchi have also this week launched their own carbon city tourer. But For US$14,000. There's also a steel fixie at just over the $6,000. Yes, they both have some nice Gucci leather accessories but mainly though if you're in the market for some Italian-inspired bling that Colnago is now looking pretty good, yes?
Colnago Classica 2012 £1,799
- Frame: Carbon 'Ace'
- Fork: Carbon 'Ace'
- Crankset: Shimano FC-2303 30/42/52t
- Front Gear: Shimano FB-2303
- Rear Gear: Shimano RD-2300
- Cassette: Shimano CS-HG50-8sp 13-26t
- Gear Levers: Shimano SL-R440-8sp
- Brake Levers: Shimano BL-R550
- Brakes calipers: Colnago X-Brake 3
- Wheelset: Shimano WH-R501-30
- Tyres: Vittoria Zafiro 700 x 25mm
- Handlebar: Colnago Flat alloy
- Stem: Colnago alloy
- Saddle: Colnago Vintage brown leather
- Seat Post: Colnago alloy microadjust
Bianchi Gucci Sport launched this week in the US for $14,000. It has Gucci signature green-red-green contrasting stripes on the carbon frame… so that'll be where the money went then
Bianchi Gucci Pista: US$6,100. Two words probably sum up this baby "How much?!"