Colnago's latest C-series bike, the C68, caters for both disc brake and rim brake users and moves the bike to look ever more like the V3Rs that UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogačar has ridden to Tour de France victory. Colnago has come out with eight models since the iconic range began with the C35 in 1989, and this new model will delight some, but horrify others.
The Colnago C68 hasn’t been the best-kept secret. Mystic Anna predicted its arrival back in January and, to a large extent, what we expected to see with the new model has materialised.
With the C68, you won’t just be buying a bike. Colnago will give you ownership of a 3D NFT (non-fungible token) file if you buy one of the custom models, and there is a blockchain vault for the details of your C68.
While the aesthetics of the bike have moved close to those of the V3Rs, the lugged construction remains and that means that, once you’ve chosen between carbon fibre or 3D-printed titanium lugs for your bike, you’ll end up with something that is made to measure.
What’s more, there are some features that have made their way over from the V3Rs. The same seat post has been used and you’ll also find the tubes have adopted some aero shaping. And while it was always an aftermarket option on the C64, the C68 now comes with a one-piece carbon cockpit.
The feature that has always defined the C-series is the lugged construction, with carbon tubes quite visibly slotting into carbon lugs (connectors) at the bottom bracket, head tube, dropouts and seat tube junction.
Colnago has to some extent dropped the lugged aesthetic in favour of a sleeker frame shape with the C68. Gone are the obvious edges to the lugs and while you can see a small join in the seat post clamp area and at the top of the head tube, it is quite hard to tell that this is a lugged bike at all.
Colango says that this was “dictated by the search for a modern look, but always remaining desirable to the traditional Colnago customer, thus widening the range of purchasing possibilities.”
Should you have deep enough pockets, the C68 is available in a special C68Ti version. Here you’ll be getting 3D-printed titanium lugs and that opens the door to a full custom bike. The titanium lugs, Colnago says, are made by an Italian company that usually makes products for the medical industry.
If that is a bit above your pay grade, the C68 does allow for custom stack and reach figures on the full carbon frame. This is because a move away from fully separate tubes and lugs allows Colnago to slide the top tube up or down on the seat tube and head tube.
Colnago has designed the down tube and head tube as a single unit. They then designed the top tube to be able to slide into the head tube and used an untapered Ceramic Speed SLT (Solid Lubrication Technology) headset to allow it to work with any length of head tube.
The adjustability should be enough for the majority of riders, but if you need/want the full custom spec, then the C68Ti is there.
Colnago is claiming a “significant” aero advantage over the C64 and Pogacar might want to swap to the new bike as it is apparently faster than the V3Rs too. What might stop him from making the change is the weight. At a claimed 930g for an unpainted size 51 without any of the metal parts, the C68 isn’t going to set weight weenie hearts racing.
Up at the front end, Colnago has designed a new monocoque bar/stem system just for the C68. That monocoque construction is claimed to be lighter than a typical bonded bar at 310g for the version with a 110mm stem length and 410mm bar width, while also adding stiffness.
The shape of the bar is an interesting mix of old and new thinking. The drops start with an 85mm reach, before dropping down by 122mm, which isn’t the compact shape that we’re used to seeing these days. But then the drops flare out, adding 2cm to the width at the ends which is more in line with modern bar design.
The flare is claimed to give more control when descending and the bar features a flattened section behind the hood area for more hand comfort on long rides.
The clever stuff doesn’t stop there, with Colnago making the bar compatible with internal routing for disc and rim brake systems, as well as for both electronic and mechanical shifting.
Colnago says that “an NFC [near-field communication] tag is installed on the C68 Road, inextricably linked to the frame, which allows access to the information present in the digital passport of the bicycle, whose data is saved in the MyLime blockchain via the Colnago app for iOS / Android smartphones.”
It’s a simple way to link your bike to your phone and the idea is that the bike has a service history. Colnago points to one benefit being the ability to do away with a paper certificate of authenticity, though this has been done for years with a PDF of a purchase receipt.
What it is good for is marking your bike as stolen, should it ever get pinched. You can mark it as such on the app and then, should your bike be checked over by someone that has bought the stolen bike, the status of the bike and your contact details will appear, hopefully allowing them to return it to you.
Colnago continues: “The further objective is to always offer Colnago customers new services with high added value, which will be developed and presented progressively.”
This is likely where the NFT part of your bike comes in, with Colnago offering “unique multimedia contents of the manufacturing phases of the purchased bicycle,” though the “3D NFT file of the purchased bicycle” will only be available on bikes created through the Colnago Studio.
NFTs are a way of investing money in digital forms of art. But the new craze has been criticised for having a hugely negative environmental impact, with claims that the virtual mining of Ethereum creates as much greenhouse gas as the entire country of Libya.
While a lot of thought has clearly been put into the tubing, Colnago hasn’t overlooked the simpler things. There is space in the frame for 30mm tyres, the bottom bracket is now a T47 system rather than Threadfit 82.5 and you’ll even find a 10-function multi-tool hidden away under the top cap which you can remove if you’re concerned about weight.
If all of this is sounding like it’s going to be expensive, then you’d be right. The standard frameset, with carbon lugs, is €5,650 while making the lugs out of 3D-printed titanium will hike the price to €6,600.
Complete bikes, meanwhile, start at €13,260 for SRAM Red eTap AXS and Zipp 303 wheels. A Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed build with Shimano Dura-Ace C50 wheels will cost €14,065, and for Campagnolo fans a Super Record EPS 12-speed bike with Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 wheels will be €15,770. If you want the titanium lugs, then the price for the latter goes up to €16,780.
The bike is available to order online (Europe and UAE initially) as Colnago has moved to a partial direct-to-consumer model, though they will still supply bricks and mortar stores. The disc model is available now and a rim brake model will be supplied later in 2022.