Home
Have the changes to the new C64 resulted in an improved ride? David went to Lanzarote to find out

The new C64 is every bit as good as the C60 but brings decent weight savings and extra comfort, while retaining the same great handling. I rode the new bike in Lanzarote at the Italian company’s worldwide launch recently to put it through its paces.

In the beginning there was the C40, an iconic race bike with multiple race victories to its name. The intervening years have seen the Italian bike brand make incremental improvements, retaining the tried-and-tested tube and lug construction but shaving away the weight and increasing stiffness. The new C64 isn’t a radical overhaul but critically retains everything that was good about the C60, whilst bringing some useful refinements to the new model to ensure it's still an appealing choice in a rapidly advancing market.

- Colnago C64 First Look - design, photos and video

Colnago C64 2018 -1.jpg

Colnago C64 2018 -1.jpg

Updating a really good product is never an easy task. The C60, as I found when I tested it a few years ago, was practically perfect, a really fine blend of handling balance, stiffness and comfort. If the C60 was so good, what can the C64 do to offer a worthwhile improvement? Less weight and wider tyre clearance would be a start, and that's exactly what the new bike offers over its predecessor.  Whilst not the most radical changes, it's this pragmatic approach to continually refining the C Series since its launch in 1994 that has ensured it's as relevant and good today as it was all those years ago.

 

What the C60 wasn’t was one of the lightest bikes on the market. Colnago was keen to remind me that chasing low weight has never been a driving force for the company, instead, it has always preferred to focus on handling and reliability. It leaves the weight weenie antics to likes of Cervelo, Trek and Specialized who keep taking chunks out of each other with each model launch. But despite that reluctance to get involved in the weight battle, the new C64 is significantly lighter than its predecessor: the rim brake frameset drops a claimed 205g while the biggest saving is on the disc brake version of the C64, a whopping 270g.

The other key change and one that will be well received is the clearance for wider tyres. The frame and fork will now easily accommodate 28mm tyres with Continental GrandPrix 4000 II S tyres used to test clearance, which actually come up quite a bit wider according to Colnago.  There are a host of other changes and interesting developments, so make sure you have a read of that first look article.

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (9 of 22).jpg

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (9 of 22).jpg

Lanzarote, better known for cheap package holidays, was chosen as the destination for the worldwide launch,  simply to guarantee nicer weather than they were not enjoying back home in Italy. It doesn't seem the most natural place for an Italian bike launch, but it was warm and sunny and the roads are smooth. But the one thing you need to know about Lanzarote is that very occasionally it can be windy. Very windy. And the wind seemed to be relentless during the entire time I was there. Ignore the wind though, and the island offers lots of nice rolling roads, a few shorts climbs, and mostly smooth surfaces, good for putting a new bike through its paces.

With just two rides on the new bike, 120km on day one and 55km on day two before dashing to the airport to fly home, it’s not enough time to get to know the nuances of the new bike. That time restriction, along with the unfamiliar roads and other variables means that only a first impression can be formed of the new bike. A longer-term test on my home roads will be needed to fully assess the bike. And that will happen, but for now here how’s I got on.

There was no shortage of top-level equipment on the bike I was given to ride. A lovely Campagnolo Super Record groupset with Bora 35 carbon wheels and 25mm Vittoria Corsa tyres, a Deda handlebar and stem and Selle Italia saddle made for a very nice build. Light too, though with no scales on hand I can only guess that it weighed about 7kg using my well-calibrated arm... The disc version of the new bike wasn't' available to ride so I was using the rim brake version, with the new direct mount brakes that replace the previous dual pivot calipers. 

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (5 of 22).jpg

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (5 of 22).jpg

Rolling out through the busy streets of the town we were staying in, past the many cafes and bars and well-tanned tourists, it was immediately clear the handling that I liked so much when I tested the C60 had been retained in this new C64. I immediately felt at home, the bike smooth and comfortable over the speed-bumps and occasional sunken drain as we made our way into the interior of the island to find some open roads and climbs.

Onto bigger roads where the group could open the taps a bit more, and a long steady climb gradually steepening through a series of turns allowed the bike to finally show me what’s it made off. Out of the saddle, it’s clear the front of the bike feels sharper and more direct, an extra level of precision compared to the old bike. There’s absolutely no flex from the bottom bracket junction either. It climbs really well, and while it's probably never going to be as light as a Trek Emonda or Specialized Tarmac, it can hardly be accused of being portly.

As the road levelled out for several miles and undulated through the dramatic landscape, a startling visual reminder of its volcanic past, the C64 does what the C Series has always done so well, settles down for the long haul. It’s always been a superb long distance bike that displayed impressive smoothness and comfort, and the new bike is no different. There's a whisker more smoothness evident without completing isolating you from the road surface, and the geometry produces easy handling at any sort of speed. 

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (16 of 22).jpg

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (16 of 22).jpg

With the road pointing down and a flat out blast down a descent with wide sweeping turns, I was able to really push the bike fast. Chasing a fellow journo along this road at high speed and close quarters displayed the stability of the bike well, it wasn't phased by the blustery wind conditions at all, it held its line securely. It's that surefooted nature that makes it such a capable bike in all situations, easy to extract everything out of it and push close to your comfortable limits. As comfortable as riding alongside jagged black rocks allows - you definitely don’t want to be riding off the road at any point that is for sure. Thankfully the C64 never felt out of control even in the strongest crosswinds. 

The new direct mount brakes are a big improvement over the previous dual pivot stoppers. The lever feel is firmer and there’s noticeably more power as well. The braking performance of the carbon Bora wheels was very impressive too; solid and dependable with no noise at all. That’s in the dry, obviously. How they fare in the wet is another thing, but in these conditions, it was rim braking at its very best. 

So it's clear the C64 has impressed. It's easy to get a little misty-eyed riding such an iconic classic, but here's the thing, the new bike does measure up against some of the more visually modern bikes from brands much bigger and better resourced than Colnago. Did you know, just 28 people work at Colnago and five of them full-time on the C64 production. Specialized probably has a bigger marketing team than the whole of Colnago.

My main takeaway from riding the new C64 it that it retains the same great handling and stability of the original, with the same tried-and-tested geometry that I think works very well in all situations, yet it feels just a little more nimble and direct in the way it reacts to inputs. It’s a little more lively when you want to push the bike through fun corners or chase faster wheels.

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (20 of 22).jpg

Colnago_C64_DavidArthur _GDV (20 of 22).jpg

It feels a bit more thrilling to ride than the old C60 then, a little more lively and edgy. It’s perhaps not as sporty as the new Tarmac SL6, as lightweight as the new Emonda SLR or as aero as the Canyon Aeroad, but there’s just something lovely about the way it rides that ensures it still, despite increasingly competitive rivals, is something truly special.

The Colnago C64 isn’t for everyone. The V2-r and Concept models look more modern and closer to what most other high-end brands are producing, but the C64 is special. It’s special because of its heritage, its pedigree, the way it's made, its looks, but most of all because of the lovely way it rides. The update does enough to ensure there’s still life in the C Series for a few more years yet.

www.colnago.com

Stay tuned for a full review soon.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

27 comments

Avatar
Gweeds [34 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes

It’s a beaut. But £4599 for an off the shelf disc frameset is a heap of cash. 

Avatar
alan loves froome [281 posts] 4 days ago
11 likes

I can't afford one so I'm going to post a snide remark.

Avatar
WashoutWheeler [91 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes
alan loves froome wrote:

I can't afford one so I'm going to post a snide remark.

Yeah! its too white!

 

Avatar
RTB [193 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes
alan loves froome wrote:

I can't afford one so I'm going to post a snide remark.

"C64" emblazoned on the side of the top tube and forks is not cool.

Avatar
Fish_n_Chips [521 posts] 4 days ago
2 likes

Named after an 80’s computer?

 

Head tube looks beefy and stiff. 

Avatar
grumgram [8 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes

Colnagos are usually great.   Lanza is great for training into headwinds, just treat it as a long climb. Be careful returning to Playa Blanca, tailwinds can push you hard into pecon grit bends, gets so windy sometimes when road signs posts snap off at their  bases. 

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [276 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes

It's kind of ugly, but I'm sure it's perfectly functional as a bike. Most likely a Cannondale Synapse is a better bike in every way though. Or a Specialized, Trek, or Giant.

Avatar
Kadinkski [743 posts] 4 days ago
5 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

It's kind of ugly, but I'm sure it's perfectly functional as a bike. Most likely a Cannondale Synapse is a better bike in every way though. Or a Specialized, Trek, or Giant.

 

What an uninformed and dumb comment. It's like me saying that most likely a ford focus is a better car than a rolls royce in every way. Utterly meaningless drivel from a random internet dot.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [276 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes
Kadinkski wrote:

Utterly meaningless drivel from a random internet dot.

Self-reflection suits you well, Mr/Miss/Zer Kadinkski.

With 28 people at Colnago, how many are engineers? I'm not saying it's not a good bike. The basic pattern for a good bike is pretty well-defined after 200 years. The larger brands have more engineering capability though.

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 3 days ago
3 likes

They’ve got at least one engineer, they make quite a big deal out of him. How many are required? How many do specialized have in house, as opposed to the ones working at the factory they buy their frames from?

Avatar
alg [180 posts] 3 days ago
2 likes

As I contemplate a partial retirement from the world of full time work I will have to conceed that incremental improvements may have to pass me by.   I shall take comfort, as I step over my ageing C40 next summer, that my ride is now a classic and the pedigree continues. There is no substitute for quality.  Suck it up big boys.

Avatar
missionsystem [56 posts] 3 days ago
0 likes

Colnago obviously make exceeding good bikes but i wish they'd give the colour coordinated seatposts a rest! A minor quibble...

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [276 posts] 3 days ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:

They’ve got at least one engineer, they make quite a big deal out of him. How many are required? How many do specialized have in house, as opposed to the ones working at the factory they buy their frames from?

I suspect that Specialized has at least 10x more engineers than Colnago.

Only the C60 and C64 are made in Italy, correct? I assume the rest of Colnago's frames are manufactured in Taiwan (perhaps in the same factory that makes Specialized's frames).

The quality of Italian-branded made-in-Asia frames that Leuscher Teknik (youtube) has cut up, has not been impressive.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1115 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes

Engineers can't calculate everything that makes a bike feel 'good', just as they can't calculate what makes a chair feel 'good'. The design problem is too complex. Much of it is still a craft.

That's what make the handbuilders different from the big companies: the design is as much craft as science. Perhaps, because they make everything themselves in Italy, they can go through dozens of iterations and test them more readily. Who knows.

I'll probably never ride it but I am certainly happy that some corners of the bike industry still make bikes in the countries where they always have. Good luck to them against an avalanche of low cost high volume imports.

Avatar
wellsprop [718 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes
matthewn5 wrote:

Engineers can't calculate everything that makes a bike feel 'good', just as they can't calculate what makes a chair feel 'good'. The design problem is too complex. Much of it is still a craft.

That's what make the handbuilders different from the big companies: the design is as much craft as science. Perhaps, because they make everything themselves in Italy, they can go through dozens of iterations and test them more readily. Who knows.

The design problem isn't particularly complex, it's a bike frame. The latest commercial airliners are made from about 50% composites and engineers can calculate the performance of the composites used very accurately.

Designing the layup of carbon fibre, isn't an art - it's not an exact science, but FEA and various composite calculation software will be used to determine the mechanical properties. I wouldn't ride a carbon bicycle that had been layed up by an artisan, rather than by a design according to an engineer - it will fail.

Modern carbon designs are tested and iterated by FEA and composite software before they've even been built. Composite analysis software can even iterate thicknesses and layups for you to find the lightest design.

From a purely engineering perspective, the C64 frame is pointlessly over-engineered and doesn't utilise the great performance benefits of carbon composites because it sticks with lugs for aesthetics (I assume). The frame weighs about 900g (apparently) my Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc frameset weights 820g and is vastly cheaper.

I appreciate that the selling point of the Colnago C64 is the fact that it is a Colnago and that it's made in Italy. Although, the carbon tubes and lugs are manufactured in Asia, from what I understand.

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 2 days ago
2 likes

As far as I’m aware, the tubes and lugs are sourced form Italian composite manufacturers. 

 

As for artisan laid carbon tubes doomed to failure, there are plenty of custom framebuilders using carbon these days, from big firms like Sarto to one man operations like Crumpton. None of these seem to be falling apart, and their customers seem to be at least as happy as someone riding a Canyon

Avatar
wellsprop [718 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:

As far as I’m aware, the tubes and lugs are sourced form Italian composite manufacturers. 

 

As for artisan laid carbon tubes doomed to failure, there are plenty of custom framebuilders using carbon these days, from big firms like Sarto to one man operations like Crumpton. None of these seem to be falling apart, and their customers seem to be at least as happy as someone riding a Canyon

I believe ATR used to supply Colnago, however, I think it's now done by Toray. https://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12705967

I would be extremely surprised if custom frame builders aren't engineering carbon designs. Sarto use FEA/CAD according to their website. Never heard of Crumpton before, now that is pretty awesome - one man custom carbon building.

What I should have said, is I wouldn't ride a bike made out of cheap carbon (like the stuff I've layed up ).

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold][quote=Nick T wrote:

I assume the rest of Colnago's frames are manufactured in Taiwan (perhaps in the same factory that makes Specialized's frames). The quality of Italian-branded made-in-Asia frames that Leuscher Teknik (youtube) has cut up, has not been impressive.

 

Generally made by Giant, while Specialized are part owned by Merida who presumably manufacture their frames. 

 

What does that have to do with the C64 though

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 2 days ago
2 likes
wellsprop wrote:

 

I believe ATR used to supply Colnago, however, I think it's now done by Toray. https://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12705967I

 

Toraya manufacture rolls of CF fabric but they don’t mould them into lugs or tubes, much like a tailor doesn’t weave the cloth for a suit they make

Avatar
velochris [30 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes

When Bianchi recalled my forks this summer I had to wait (and not use) my Infinito. I then received a phone call explaining the forks were on a ship sailing from Asia.

I emailed Bianchi asking if they had performed the necessary checks on the ship's Captain because my bike came with a "made in Italy" sticker on it. I asked because he seemed to be taking a very long detour given he must have set sail from Italy with my Italian made fork.

I never received a reply.

I knew all along it was made in Taiwan (by Merida) but that never bothered me. Judge a bike on how much the person riding it enjoys it. If they love it, it is a great bike regardless of make it model.

Avatar
wellsprop [718 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:
wellsprop wrote:

 

I believe ATR used to supply Colnago, however, I think it's now done by Toray. https://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12705967I

 

Toraya manufacture rolls of CF fabric but they don’t mould them into lugs or tubes, much like a tailor doesn’t weave the cloth for a suit they make

Ah, I didn't realise Toray only made the sheet, I had assumed they did sub-con too - oops.

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes

I heard recently that the tubes and lugs were sourced from an Italian firm which surprised me, although I still don’t know 100%. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did in fact come from the Far East, and I don’t really think it matters either way - sourcing parts from a mould which you designed but made by an external firm in the same country vs one in China or Taiwan isn’t where the value lies imo

Avatar
matthewn5 [1115 posts] 1 day ago
1 like

This says the tubes are designed by Colnago and made in the Veneto region of Italy. There's mention of R&D collaboration with Ferrari:

https://roadbikeaction.com/being-there-the-colnago-factory-tour/

Here's a video that shows them machining and assembling the tubes in Italy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBKOb0WzfTM

Lugs mean they can make one in any size you want, and to any geometry you fancy. At a cost, of course, but there's still a market for bespoke bikes.

Avatar
Leeroy_Silk [163 posts] 20 hours ago
1 like
velochris wrote:

 I knew all along it was made in Taiwan (by Merida) but that never bothered me. Judge a bike on how much the person riding it enjoys it. If they love it, it is a great bike regardless of make it model.

Interesting. My Bianchi XR4 frameset came with a sticker on the BB saying “made in Vietnam”. Not that it bothered me in the slightest, I’m actually intrigued to find out more about the Vietnamese bike building industry.

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 19 hours ago
0 likes
matthewn5 wrote:

Lugs mean they can make one in any size you want, and to any geometry you fancy. At a cost, of course, but there's still a market for bespoke bikes.

 

Lugs aren’t the only way to do that, tube to tube building is more flexible than using lugs. They can’t offer the myriad sizes and geometries they used to with this C64, unless they work on a new seat tube it’s sloping only. It’s kind of a shame really, and this one looks to me a bit of a hodge podge between their classic lugged frames and what they think people want from a modern bike by throwing aero seatposts and integrated clamps etc

Avatar
matthewn5 [1115 posts] 18 hours ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:

Lugs aren’t the only way to do that, tube to tube building is more flexible than using lugs. They can’t offer the myriad sizes and geometries they used to with this C64, unless they work on a new seat tube it’s sloping only. It’s kind of a shame really, and this one looks to me a bit of a hodge podge between their classic lugged frames and what they think people want from a modern bike by throwing aero seatposts and integrated clamps etc

Yes of course, as with Sarto, I wonder if it's just the familiarity with the technique that leads Colnago to stick with lugs? He's departed from them for their other frames.

But then, why do tailors persist with cuff buttons, collars and a host of other details whos function is marginal?

Avatar
Nick T [1112 posts] 16 hours ago
1 like

Because their clients are buying them because of it. A huge part of the appeal when I got my frameset was the lugged construction, it references the history of framebuilding, both within the company and the industry at large, and it’s unique in a world of identikit monocoques.