This is the brand new Colnago C64, launched today to celebrate Ernesto Colnago’s 86th birthday and the year, 1954, in which this iconic Italian bike brand was launched. It’s substantially lighter than the C60 it replaces and now accepts up to 28mm tyres, meeting the increasing demand for wider rubber even on a race bike.
This is a bike that traces its history back to the original C40 first launched way back in 1994. It wasn’t Colnago’s first carbon bike (it first worked with Ferrari in 1986 to develop a composite frame), but during a time of rapid development and experimentation with materials, when steel frames still reigned, the C40 with its carbon tube and lug construction was far lighter than anything else at the time, a 54cm frame weighing 1kg. The name, by the way, was C for carbon fibre and 40 to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.
It’s a bike that has changed much over the years with various iterations refining the design to lower the weight and keep abreast of changing standards. Despite those changes the carbon tube and lug construction process has carried through the generations, and while not unique, differs from the moulding process favoured by most big bike brands. It’s a technique that allows Colnago to make many frame sizes and even offer custom sizes. It’s also a bike, it should be added, that is still made in Italy, a rare thing in itself.
Which brings us rather neatly onto the new C64… Just like its predecessor, the new bike doesn’t bring forth a major update, instead, it's a case of gradual evolution that builds on the solid foundations set down by the previous model. That’s not to say the changes to the C64 aren’t significant because in an era of increasingly marginal improvements the updates shouldn’t be underplayed. Colnago, it's worth adding (because they were keen to remind us), has never been a company obsessed with chasing the lowest possible weight. Instead, it has focused on building a dependable and reliable frame with great handling, a design brief that is core to its beliefs in bicycle design.
The changes are the result of two years of development and have led to a sizeable weight reduction and an increase in tyre clearance. Colnago claims the frame and fork (including seatpost, seatpost clamp, headset, mech hanger and cable guides) is 205g lighter than the C60, with a 52cm frame weighing in the region of 800-850g. The C64 Disc frame is a whopping 270g lighter than the C60 Disc and is just 15g heavier than the rim brake version.
A significant development is an all-new fork. The length has increased 5mm to accommodate larger tyres, and there’s now an external rib shape that is designed to provide more lateral stiffness and slightly improve front-end compliance. The dropouts are now made from carbon fibre and weigh 355g for the rim brake version, 40g lighter than previously.
The steerer tube has changed dramatically. Colnago has developed a C/D shaped steerer tube intended to allow the cables and brake hoses to be routed inside the frame (via its own design stem, more on that latter). To provide the necessary stiffness a rib runs the full length of the tube, with a threaded hole in the centre that does away with a conventional top cap bung, saving a bit of weight.
Meanwhile, the disc fork moves to a threaded thru-axle which is lighter than the novel Hexlock system the company developed with Manitou a few years ago. The Hexlock system neatly got around the slow wheel change inherent to most thru-axle designs and wasn’t too far removed from the Focus RAT system. Colnago said it was quite heavy though and recognised that most customers of the C64 probably aren’t worried about having the quickest wheel changes.
To accommodate wider tyres (the previous C60 was limited to 25s) the new C64 moves to the increasingly common direct mount brakes, which provide wider tyre compatibility. That change means the new bike will now easily swallow any 28mm tyres. Colnago says the disc version will take a slightly wider tyre but doesn’t put a figure on it.
As mentioned, the fork has also been lengthened by 5mm to make space for those larger tyres, but the head tube height has been reduced to maintain the same stack measurement as the C60. It has kept the same chainstay length but refined the shape of the bottom bracket and chainstays to provide space for the wider rubber. The smaller frame sizes have a small recess in the back of the seat tube to ensure adequate clearance. All other geometry details from the C60 have been carried over to the C64, so you're looking at a 1,004mm wheelbase, 410mm chainstays, 73.57° head angle, 565mm stack and 384mm reach on the 52cm sloping size (equivalent to a 55cm in most other brands' sizing).
The C64 owes its unique and traditional appearance to a tube and lug design. The specially shaped lugs are moulded in carbon fibre and the tubes are bonded in place. On the surface, there’s little change evident but look closer and there are quite a few revisions.
The head tube junction has the same overall shape but the wall thicknesses have been reduced to lower the weight, and the outer 3K carbon layer has been swapped for a lighter unidirectional carbon, a change that is also reflected across the rest of the frame. And like on the fork, new ribs serve to increase lateral stiffness.
The down tube now has a recessed bottle cage mount, which Colnago says offers a slight aero advantage as well as providing extra stiffness due to the two long ribs created by this recess. Cable routing moves to a new port in the top of the down tube, a move we’re seeing a lot of bike manufacturers make this year, and it’s fully compatible with all the different groupset options on the market presently.
The headset has been borrowed from the Concept aero bike in order to provide a small amount of increased front-end compliance. The upper cups are made from a special polymer mix of carbon and elastomer to help absorb road vibrations.
The seat tube is all-new, with the seat lug now formed with the seat tube as one piece which has helped save weight and also increases frame stiffness. The D-shaped seatpost is borrowed from the V2-r, the truncated profile improving aerodynamics while providing better compliance. There are three setbacks to choose from; 0, 15 and 30mm.
The seat clamp is now internal too. This alone saves 15g of weight, which on its own is now a lot but added to the other changes contributes to the quite impressive weight savings.
At the bottom bracket, the one piece junction continues to centre around the innovated ThreadFit82.5 bottom bracket design, which combines the dimensions of an oversized press-fit bottom bracket whilst ensuring the reliability of a conventionally threaded bottom bracket. Threads are cut into the carbon and aluminium sleeves are threaded into place where new CeramicSpeed bearings will now live.
One small change is the clip-on cable guide has been replaced by a moulded cable guide which saves weight and provides a smoother cable path.
There are some notable changes to the rear triangle. The chainstays are asymmetric, the non-driveside being a larger profile to increase frame stiffness. The dropouts are now formed as part of the chainstays and this one-piece construction has lowered the weight and improved vertical compliance.
The rim brake bike has slightly wider rear stays compared to the disc version due to the difference in stiffness produced by the 12mm thru-axle, which is now threaded with carbon flat mounts.
The result of all those changes is reduced frame weight (205g off the rim brake frameset; 270g off the disc frameset) while the stiffness is about the same as the C60, only marginal increases in the bottom bracket and front end. A bigger change is improved vertical compliance, Colnago claiming the new bike offers a smoother ride.
As mentioned, cable routing has been a focus with the new bike, and none more so than on the disc brake bike. That new C/D shaped steerer tube is designed to work in unison with a bespoke stem Colnago has developed that allows fully internal routing of the gear cables and hydraulic brake hoses into the stem and frame. Only a couple of other companies spring to mind as taking this same attention to detail, BMC and Wilier.
Colnago UK only offers the new C64 as a frameset, you’ll have to work with your local dealer to build the bike of your dreams.
The rim brake frameset will cost £4,099.95 with a choice of four standard colours. Choose from two art décor finishes and the price jumps to £4,499.95. The disc brake model costs £4,599.95.
The new C64 will be offered in 14 sizes - nine sloping - and five new high stack versions aimed at those cyclists that want a slightly more upright position without resorting to a stack of spacers.
How does it ride
That's the full lowdown on the new bike, but what's it like to ride? Stay tuned for my first ride impressions 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.