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Check out the Colnago C59 Disc - the beginning of the end for rim brakes

Travel back to a time when disc brakes on performance road bikes were radical, and Colnago was pioneering the new technology

You might consider Colnago to be a brand with traditional values, but did you know that it was one of the first to bring hydraulic disc brakes to a performance road bike back in 2012? Fast forward to today and hydraulic disc brakes are the norm on bikes of this kind, but the C59 Disc was in there right at the start.

Colnago C59 Disc

It was at the 2012 Taipei Show that the Colnago C59 Disc burst onto the scene and, as with any radical new tech, it garnered plenty of attention. However, little did we know that we were staring at the future.

The C59 Disc certainly wasn't the first road bike to feature disc brakes, but it was an important machine and represented the first card of many to be played by cycling's big brands.

Colnago C59 Disc - front disc

At the time, there was no such thing as a complete hydraulic disc brake groupset for road bikes. To overcome this, Colnago got together with fellow Italian brand Formula. These Colnago-branded hydraulic callipers were mounted to the frame using a post mount system rather than the flat mount standard that we most commonly see today.

Colnago C59 Disc - integrated hydaulic lever(1)

The remainder of the drivetrain came in the form of Shimano Dura-Ace R7900 generation Di2 but with Formula levers that were adapted to house the brake's master cylinder. This hydraulic fluid basically took up all the space that was previously used for mechanical shifting gubbins.

Colnago C59 Disc - Formula disc brake

It's not just the groupset that had to be altered, the frameset also saw some changes from the rim-brake version. The fork was completely redesigned to prevent unwanted wheel ejection and the frame featured beefed-up chainstays to help it cope with the extra braking forces generated by the Formula discs.

Colnago did a good job of strengthening the C59 Disc because it was the bike that featured in Martyn Ashton's famous 'Road Bike Party' video on YouTube. Check out his bike in the gallery above...

On the flip side, in our First Ride review at Eurobike 2012, Vechiojo described the C59 as “big boned”.

> Read our Colnago C59 Disc First Ride from 2012

He said, "Sadly the Colnago C59 Disc isn’t quite the revelation or revolution it might be. It could be the future, just not quite yet…"

Top-level disc brake bikes, although still often heavier than their rim-brake counterparts, can usually meet the UCI's 6.8kg minimum weight limit for racing these days.

> Colnago C59 Disc first ride

2022 Colnago Prototipo x TdF - 1.jpeg

Colnago officially unveils V4Rs road bike with its ‘fastest monocoque frame ever’

Since 2012 Colnago has refined its disc brake bikes. There's the beautiful C68 Disc that Tadej Pogacar rode to victory at the 2021 Tour de France, for example, and the superb V4Rs.

Check out our review of the Colnago V4Rs

Both owe a lot to the Colnago C59 Disc. Although it's just 12 years since Colnago introduced its first disc brake road bike, there are no rim brake bikes left in the range.

Do you think the Colnago C59 Disc is one of the most iconic bikes of the century so far? Let us know in the comments below...

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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Miller | 3 weeks ago

> However, little did we know that we were staring at the future.

Really? For anyone paying attention, we absolutely did know we were staring at the future.

joules1975 replied to Miller | 3 weeks ago

Miller wrote:

> However, little did we know that we were staring at the future.

Really? For anyone paying attention, we absolutely did know we were staring at the future.


I ran a bike shop at the time, and I remember telling customers that 'within a decade, you won't be able to get a rim braked road bike'. I wasn't far off the mark, and that's because it was at that point already two years since UCI made discs legal in CX, and many already familier with the benefits of discs (i.e. MTBers that also dabbled with road riding) were experimenting with mechanical discs and mechanical/hydro hybrid setups, while waiting for the big component brands to come out with hydraulic brifters.

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