The latest evolution of Colnago's lugged carbon fibre bikes, the C60 sets new standards for sheer grin-inducing riding pleasure.
Let's not overstate the importance and high expectations placed on the Colnago C60, the latest in Colnago's iconic C-series road bike range. Colnago first introduced the C40 with its tube-and-lug construction some 20 years ago, then followed with the C50 in 2003, which pushed the stiffness up and weight down. It was joined by the Extreme Power and Extreme C, designed for sprinting and climbers respectively, and followed by the EPS. The C59 came out in 2010, which kept with the same basic construction approach but ushered in oversized lugs, internal cable routing and electronic gearset compatibility. Shortly after, Colnago rolled out a version compatible with disc brakes.
And now we have the C60. The headline grabbing bullet points are a new press fit bottom bracket, oversized tubes, bigger lugs and new alloy dropouts, changes that have increased the frame stiffness and dropped some weight. It'll be available in both a caliper or disc brake version, though the disc one won't be available until later this year.
With an asking price of £3,499.95 (£3,699.95 for the disc version) for the frameset, the new C60 is clearly top drawer kit. It's a stunning bike to look at too; this yellow on grey colour scheme from the Racing collection (one of three paint schemes available) is subtle yet classy. With bulging lugs and ridged main tubes, bulging chainstays and wishbone seatstays, the C60 exudes swiftness.
Ride: engaging and outrageously good
The C60 is in a class of its own. Its handling is sublime.
A bold statement I know but after well over a 1,000km of riding I feel confident in saying that. A descent that's a regular part of my test rides has a beautiful sweeping right hand bend followed very quickly by an equally sweeping left hander. You can see well down the road, so with good conditions and no traffic you can fly through this sequence of bends with fantastic speed. It's a great test of the handling of a road bike.
The road surface is lumpy on the way in though, enough that it can unsettle a bike just before you reach the apex, and that impacts cornering speed. Letting the C60 loose on this descent it was immediately clear this is a bike with the finest handling. It tracked smoothly over lumps that see many bikes struggle. In fact it provided so much confidence so it could reach and sustain an extreme lean angle. It tracks sharply and cleanly through the bends, and feels safe at the high speeds it makes easy to achieve.
Unlike many bikes in this situation, it lacked the drama, the frisson of fear that can envelop your senses as you near the limits. It's simply calm and reassuring, and that makes it an utter joy to sling down descents.
The C60 doesn't just shine on the descents, but in every situation. It devours big rides in buttery smooth comfort. If you're going to do a 100 mile ride the C60 is a fine choice, you'll feel as fresh as a daisy at the end of it. Equally it's right at home in the frantic high speed peloton of a road race. On every ride the C60 did nothing but leave a huge smile on my face. It's simply an outrageously good bike.
One of Colnago's goals with the C60 was to improve stiffness, and this is noticeable compared to the outgoing C59. It's noticeable when climbing, descending, cornering and along undulating roads. Combined with the lower weight, the C60 possess an enhanced ability to make fast progress along country roads. Steering feel is fantastic; this really is the hallmark of the C60 compared to the C59. The new bike is noticeably sharper, more responsive, more focused. It's a successful evolution of an already very good bike.
At 7.25kg (15.98lb) in this build it's not the lightest bike for the money, but the C60 proves that weight isn't the most important consideration when choosing a road bike. I've ridden a lot of lighter bikes, but not once did I feel the weight penalty, if we're to call it that, ever held me back on the climbs. The C60 actually climbs so well that I set a few personal bests on some local climbs.
Is the C60 fast? Yes it is, even though it doesn't feel mind-blowingly fast like the Factor Vis Vires or Scapin Etika I rode recently, two bikes that just feel like your legs can't keep up with their potential velocity. The C60 is a rapid bike, it simply delivers its speed in a more measured manner than those two examples. You could easily mistake such a ride for slowness and lack of pace, but against the stopwatch that just wasn't the case. It's no slouch.
Frame: bottom bracket up redesign
On the surface it looks like little has changed from the C59. However, look closer and it's clear there have been a lot of changes. Colnago have redesigned the bike from the bottom bracket up. That's a good place to start, because it's one of the most significant changes on the new bike.
Yes, Colnago have joined the press fit 'revolution'. However, they've developed a system (ThreadFit82.5) that uses screw-in alloy cups to house the bottom bracket bearings. On most top-end carbon frames the bearings press directly into the carbon shell, an approach that's notorious for leading to much creaking. And a creaking bike is bloody annoying. So Colnago solve that problem with their design. Furthermore, the alloy cups are replaceable should they be damaged, preventing damage to the frame. It accepts any BB86 compatible crank from Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo and FSA, along with the BB386EVO on the review bike.
The main advantage of a press fit bottom bracket is that the bottom bracket shell can be wider, which in turn means the diameter of the down tube, seat tube and chainstays can be increased. Colnago have housed the bottom bracket inside a massive new lug, accommodating a 66x52mm diameter down tube (up from about 44mm of the C59), and a 51.5mm seat tube compared to the C59's 34.9mm. And the seat tube is asymmetric, wider on the non-drivetrain side near the bottom bracket, and pinched in on the opposite side to allow space for the front derailleur. In the top of the seat tube is a 31.6mm seatpost, used in preference to a 27.2mm based on feedback from professional racers who prefered the extra stiffness it offered.
The frame is still constructed in the same tube and lug method as the C59, and the main tubes now have a with a star profile that pays homage to the original, iconic Master. Colnago claim this also offers extra stiffness over the tube profiles of the older bike. One area that has increased in stiffness substantially are the chainstays, they're twice the height at the bottom bracket as they are at the dropouts, and internal ribs add even more stiffness.
New CNC-machined alloy one-piece dropouts are used rather than carbon dropouts (like many other top-end carbon frames) because Colnago claim they're actually lighter and save a bit of weight. The other reason for the new dropouts is that the C60 has been designed from the outset with disc brakes in mind. The mech hanger is replaceable, and they've cleaned up the internal routing for electronic groupsets. All cables are routed internally, as you'd expect on a frame like this.
Build: only the best will do
The C60 is only available as a frameset, leaving the customer to build it up to their taste. Only the best will do for a frame costing as much as the C60, and Colnago UK distributor Windwave didn't disappoint in the bike they've built for this review. An 11-speed Campagnolo Record mechanical groupset is joined by the brand new FSA K-Force Light BB386 EVO chainset, Vision Metron 40 carbon clincher wheels and FSA finishing kit. The price on this build is a mighty £8,076.46, with a weight of 7.25kg (15.98lb). You could build a C60 however you wanted to suit your budget, so a more modest build would be possible.
It's fair to say the components flattered the frame. The wheels are a highlight, fast on the flat and stable in the wind, and at a claimed 1,495g no handicap on the hills. The new BBB Carbostop brake blocks provided reassuring braking performance with plenty of modulation and no snatching or biting, and handled prolonged braking periods on long steep descents well.
The wheels were fitted with 25mm Continental GP4000S tyres which really enhanced the comfort of the bike. I swapped them for a pair of 23mm Schwalbe One tyres and the ride was just as smooth and comfortable, but the 25mm tyres noticeably had the edge in comfort, and they could be run at lower pressures. The only pitfall with the 25mm tyres is the extremely tight clearance in the fork and front brake caliper. It couldn't be much closer.
The K-Force Light BB386 EVO chainset is FSA's latest offering, two years in development. It weighs a claimed 584g for this 52/36t setup, courtesy of hollow carbon fibre arms and 7075 3D forged and CNC machined chainrings. There's no lack of stiffness, not a hint of deflection even during the toughest climbs or all-out sprints. The 52/36 combo is getting more popular and is a really nice compromise if you find a standard double too tall for your fitness or terrain, but a compact too low-geared.
FSA's K-Force Compact handlebar provides a shorter reach and lower drop than most, which makes it very easy to ride in the drops. It's comfortable there too, because the distance from the tops to the drops isn't so severe. The bar is nicely shaped and very comfortable in the hands. The matching carbon OS 99 stem and K-Force two-bolt setback seatpost complemented the handlebars and bike very well. A Colnago branded SLR saddle was replaced with a Prologo Scratch, but that's the only change I made to the bike.
The C60 is gorgeous. It's one of the very few bike that leaves me with a tingly sensation after every ride. If you are lucky (and wealthy) enough to buy a C60, you will be rewarded with one of the most balanced and intoxicating road bikes money can buy. It really is that good. Yes there are lighter and there are stiffer road bikes, and there are cheaper road bikes, but few offer such a composed and balanced performance as the new C60 does.
Sensational performance with unflappable handling, the C60 is in a class of its own
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Colnago C60
Size tested: 56
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The most striking difference between the C59 and C60 is the new tube shapes and its matching shaped lugs.
The second major difference between the C59 and the C60 is the new oversized downtube.
In favor of a round tube shape, the seat tube becomes strongly asymmetric as it reaches and enters the bottom bracket lug.
Another new feature introduced with C60 are the forged, CNC-machined one-piece dropouts. With the C60, Colnago has worked hard to make the connection between the frame and the rear wheel a true masterpiece.
The heart of the new C60 is the bottom bracket. The dimensions of this masterpiece, especially when compared to that of the C59, have been created to ensure the ultimate in lateral stiffness.
Sizes and specifications help you to choose the correct frame.
This frame is approved by the International Cycling Union and therefore used in all races recognized by the UCI.
Colnago C60 frames painting, hand made in Italy one by one, every frame is unique!
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 ultimate goal is to improve the bicycle: to make it more efficient, with less rider fatigue and no sacrifice in strength or reliability. The design must be striking. From a marketing standpoint, the frame's characteristics and technical advantages must stand out and not be completely hidden inside the frame. Star-shaped tubes are a proven design element and have become a signature design element for Colnago frames. It is from this proven design, with the goal of increased frame efficiency without significant sacrifice in comfort or strength, with which the Colnago C60 was born.
In the C60 various cross sections of tubes have increased volume, thinner walls and drastic tube profiles. No attention to detail was spared. The rear dropouts have been completely redesigned for reduced weight and increased lateral stiffness. Even the water bottle mounts were redesigned to reduce weight while maximizing strength.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon fibre using the same tube-and-lug construction method they've used since the first C40 20 years ago.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Racey but not so aggressive that you aren't comfortable on all-day rides.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes no lack of stiffness evident from the bottom bracket, down tube and chainstays.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Very responsive.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Sublime handling, it's easy to ride it at pace with plenty of control.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The components all worked well together and complemented the frame.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? If I won the lottery, yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The only thing standing between the Colnago C60 and a perfect 10 is its weight. Most bikes at this price are between half a kilo and kilogram lighter. Colnago has always said that they won't risk safety in order to play the gram-counting game and the test data they've shared with us in the past shows their frames hugely surpassing European frame impact strength standards. We applaud them for that, but it doesn't silence the nagging voice that looks at the climbing performance of this bike and says: "Imagine how it would go if it rode like this AND were 1,000g lighter."
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.