Colnago's brand new endurance road bike, the CX Zero offers an easy going ride that's comfortable and very forgiving on rough roads. The mechanical disc brakes on this model offer consistent and reliable braking in foul winter weather. It's an ideal choice for sportive cyclists, while the non-disc version is fully UCI-approved – expect to see the Europcar racing the new bike at the spring classics.
Frame and fork
Colnago developed the new CX Zero to be an endurance road bike, the sort that is proving very popular with the industry at the moment. The main criteria for such bikes is capacity for wide tyres, up to 28mm, relaxed geometry and comfort boosting design features.
It's also been developed with disc brakes from the outset, though Colnago has made the decision to also offer it with caliper brakes. Colnago first dabbled with disc brakes on its C59 race frame a couple of years ago, one of the first big brands to offer such a bike. To keep everyone happy, the Italian company has taken the decision to produce two versions of the CX Zero, but main man Ernesto Colnago has said several times that he believes disc brakes are the future. Nevertheless, we think offering both stopping options is a smart move, and one we expect more manufacturers to adopt.
To provide comfort and a stable ride, the CX Zero has a longer wheelbase than the racey C59. It also has a taller head tube and shorter top tube. That's generally in line with the thinking behind most other endurance road bikes, the longer wheelbase (100.6cm) boosts stability so that bike feels more settled on rough roads, and the taller and short front end makes it a bit less of stretch to the hoods if you don't want to stare at the stem for the entire ride.
Unlike some endurance road bikes that have passed through the office though, the CX Zero isn't extreme in its numbers. That's little surprise from a bike partly developed for professional cycling team. The bike I tested measured up with a 17.6cm head tube, not a whole heap taller than the similarly pitched Bianchi Infinito CV I recently tested. Stack is 577mm and reach is 380mm. The result is you can achieve a reasonably aggressive and low position if you prefer a lower front end, but you can also go higher using the stack of spacers to get a more relaxed position.
It's a full carbon fibre frame, constructed from high modulus carbon fibre. It's very well finished, and looks brilliant in this black on black finish, though if it's not your cup of tea it's also available in white.
The front half of the frame is reasonably oversized but certainly wouldn't win any awards for girth. The rear triangle is a different matter entirely. Very slim tubes for the seatstays and oversized to skinny chainstays with a kink towards the dropouts, intended to help the frame dampen vibrations. The seatpost follows a familiar pattern of being a 27.2mm diameter.
Press-fit bottom brackets are almost becoming standard on high-end carbon frames. They allow the bearings to be spaced further apart along with a larger diameter axle, plus the larger shell size means the down tube, seat tube and chainstays can also make use of that extra space and be even more oversized, contributing to a stiffer frame.
The disc frame has been modified over the regular version to deal with the extra forces imposed by the disc brakes. Colnago has adapted the layup of the carbon fibres in key areas to ensure the frame resists any twisting forces. The rear caliper is placed inside the rear dropout, which does seem to be the most popular placement for most new disc-equipped frames.
The cables are all internally routed. The rear brake cable enters the top of the down tube and pops out at the end of the non-driveside chainstay just in front of the brake caliper. It's all neatly finished.
The fork is full carbon too with a tapered steerer tube. Discs aside, another significant change for Colnago is the use of a Press Fit bottom bracket for the first time.
Ride and handling
You want to know what the CX Zero rides like don't you? Is it any good, you're probably wondering. Colnago describe the CX Zero as the 'bike for 'every rider' looking for the best overall value and experience from a road bike' and that pretty well sums up the bike. It's a bike that every cyclist, no matter the level of experience or fitness, will feel right at home on.
It's an easy bike to get accustomed to, and within a couple of miles you're at one with it and happily sailing off into the distance. Beginners and experienced cyclists will revel in its calm and stable handling, it's very predictable and easy to live with.
It's not fast and edgy, it's much more measured and assured in its handling. It can be hustled along at a fair old lick if you've got the legs though: the CX Zero can seriously shift. Not fast as such, but quick certainly. The frame displays a high level of stiffness ensuring it makes the most of your power.
And it blasts down descents. The disc brakes really give you a big dose of extra confidence that you'll actually be able to stop at the bottom, especially to the sort of descent that terminates with a T-junction. They provide far more confidence than I'm used to with caliper at this time of year, especially when it's lashing down with rain and the roads are covered in filth. Here, the discs come into their own. We know there are a lot of disc sceptics out there; a ride on the CX Zero will change your mind.
Comfort is one of the CX Zero's trump cards, but it's not as smooth as some, especially the Bianchi Infinito CV, the current endurance bike benchmark. The gap between the two really isn't that wide though and the CX Zero is certainly not harsh. The 25mm tyres surely help, and didn't suffer too much when I tried some 23mm tyres, just for comparison. The frame clearly does a good job of handling vibrations from the road surface.
Yes, the CX Zero is a lot of fun to ride. It simply loves cruising along the road at a steady lick, swooping down descents and around sweeping bends. It's not put off its stride by rough roads, and provides a good deal of solidness on potholed and gravel strewn country lanes. It's a very capable bike, it'll happily allow you to push your limits without feeling like you're living life on the edge like some road bikes make you feel.
The CX Zero Disc is only available as a complete bike - the non-disc version is available as a frameset - and costs £3,499.95 as pictured. That gets you a full Shimano Ultegra compact 11-speed mechanical groupset paired with Shimano's BR-R515 cable operated discs.
The brakes have noticeably more power than most caliper brakes, but there's plenty of modulation at the lever so there's no increased risk of locking a wheel. Your brain is pretty good at deciding how much lever pull is required to slow you down in every situation without sliding, wheels locked, across the road.
It's in the rain and riding in foul weather conditions, roads and rims caked in mud and grit (most of the UK year then) that the disc brakes really come into their own. On descents too, where I found much more confidence in carrying speed down steeper roads. Speed can be scrubbed off with a single finger on each lever, not the two, or occasionally three, required on caliper brakes on the steepest descents.
Another benefit: maintenance is reduced. The pads are showing no sign of wear, and I've not yet had to fettle with them at all, unlike the calipercaliper brakes on my winter bike which I need to keep a close on for pad wear. I'm left with realisation that for year-round riding disc brakes really are a no-brainer.
On paper the 8.82kg (19.44lb) weight may seem high, and it's certainly more than similarly priced non-disc alternative. However, proving that you should never judge a bike based on how it reads on paper, the CX Zero never felt that portly out on the road. Sure, compared to the 720g lighter Orbea Orca of similar-ish money I was riding at the same time, there's a difference, but it's small and confined mainly to those moments when you want to suddenly change speed, such as attacking up a short climb or lunging out of the saddle for an imaginary sprint finish. All other occasions, the weight simply didn't deter from the excellent ride.
Disc wheels need to be built a bit stronger, but Colnago uses Artemis WH32 deep section rims here, similar to those on the non-disc AC-R I tested last year, laced to DT SWiss 370 disc hubs. Colnago does offer the CX Zero with 400g lighter DT Swiss wheels for £3,699, which might be the version to go for if you're worried about the weight. I'd certainly be tempted to find the extra 200 notes for the lighter wheels. But don't fret about the weight, the CX Zero rides so nicely that you really won't notice it holding you back.
The Continental Grand Sport Race 25mm tyres provide a bit of extra impact and vibration absorption over 23mm tyres, and proved resilient on gravel strewn roads.
The finishing kit is all good quality: Colnago's own alloy seatpost topped with a Selle Italia X1 saddle, and a Deda RHM 02 handlebar and Deda Zero One stem provide a nice touch of quality and class to the bike. I found the saddle comfortable for rides under two hours, but I swapped to a saddle that better suits me for longer rides.
Fast and stable endurance road bike that benefits immensely from the disc brakes.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Colnago CX Zero Disc
Size tested: 52
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Colnago describe the new CX Zero as the bike for 'every rider', which we'll take to mean it's an all-rounder that's good for racing, tackling sportives and epic all-day rides. And cobbled races if you're a pro.
It slots into their road performance range along with the CLX and CLD. The CX-1 appears to have been dropped from the range this year.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Colnago CX Zero personifies everything Colnago has learned from building the best bikes on the planet for the last 60 years. It is the bike for 'every rider' looking for the best overall value and experience from a road bike. It harks back to an era in professional cycling when riders had one bike for every road race; they raced that bike to win every day from the Spring classics to the Fall classics and every Grand Tour and single-day race in between.
The Colnago CX Zero combines CLASSIC frame geometry for all-day and everyday riding with the most advanced materials and frame design of any bike on the mar�ket today.
The Colnago CX Zero offers the greatest performance of any Colnago across the greatest range of rider ability and budget. From World-Tour racers in Paris-Roubaix or Le Tour de France to the weekend warrior, the Colnago CX Zero is a winner!
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Top quality finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's Colnago's 'classic' geometry, which means a longer wheelbase, taller head tube and shorter top tube, but it's not as relaxed as some 'sportive' bikes so you can still get quite racey on it.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Felt very comfortable from the off, easy to get a good fit.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Not the smoothest endurance road bike, but not by a factor of much, the 25mm certainly help, and it'll take up to 28mm tyres as well.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Certainly plenty stiff enough when stomping on the pedals.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Stable and planted.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very stable handling, a bit slow compared to some race bikes, that leads to it being a very easy bike to ride at any pace and over any distance.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels could be a bit lighter. Colnago do offer a lighter wheel package.
Wheels and tyres
Wheels could be a bit lighter.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? I'd want to try it with lighter wheels first.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The disc brake revolution is coming, and bar a minor niggle about the weight penalty, the new CX Zero is a great advocate of their benefits. Here is a bike that will suit sportive and performance cyclists wanting a swift and comfortable bike with the power, consistency and low maintenance of disc brakes. And, if you don't like disc brakes, you can just choose the non-disc CX Zero, which has UCI approval for racing.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
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.