The Coveted Colnago C60 Anniversary Bike

Colnago C60 anniversary bike

Espresso Love

The man from Colnago was suitably proud of the amount of drool the one-in-just-60 C60 Anniversary bike created at the brand’s 2015 launch in Stellenbosch.

We drooled the most, so we got to take it home and ride it. Two tests in one – make that three with the new Bora wheels – as we follow on from the
C59 we rode in the June 2014 issue, and play with what must be the first new-generation Campagnolo Super Record gruppo in the country.

Colnago C60 anniversary bike

7 Billion people on the planet and only 60 C-60’s grace this planet with their presence.

It was a tough call, but the Campy porn marginally beat the frame in the ‘can’t wait’ stakes – and that is probably only because the stylish Italians have done another fine job making it understated. As a package, you will struggle to find a classier, more sophisticated looking rig – natural carbon tubes (with a hint of glitter in the sunlight), matt silver painted on the lugs, low-key decals in an era where loud is proud – a perfect match to the carbon-heavy Super Record gruppo, and the ridiculously sexy Bora wheels. The two hand-engraved titanium plaques announcing its provenance finish the job beautifully.

Colnago C60 anniversary bike

All-change at the back – new parallelogram, titanium and carbon everywhere, and an extra spring make for crisper, lighter shifting.

Come from papa
Colnago is a family-run business that has managed to retain some of the mystique that had us lusting after Saronni-red frames in the 80s, and long before that, Molteni-orange ones. This is mainly because of Ernesto Colnago, who founded the firm in the form of a tiny bike shop at 10 Via Garibaldi, Cambiago,in 1954 after a racing crash had ended a promising career. Today, manufacturing has relocated, for the bigger-scale production, to the East (with design and research still done in Italy); in fact, Colnago was one of the first to make this unthinkable move, realising that the market demanded value for money as well as heritage.
The C60 we rode is a celebration of the firm’s – and the old man’s – 60 years of building bikes. Famous clients have included Eddy Merckx – the greatest male cyclist to date – and a selection of popes, rock stars, pro cyclists and passionate amateurs. Much like owning an Alfa, a Colnago in the garage is a must in any rider’s lifetime. And for good reason, as we discovered again with this latest model.

In a time where moulded monocoque frames are the way to go, the C60 still uses a lugged manufacturing process, where individually moulded and cut frame tubes are bonded into a set of connecting lugs. This allows the engineers more freedom in quality-control, so they can ensure the lightest tubes, lugs and fittings are used, even within the tight tolerances all of these components are manufactured to. A big benefit of this process is that they can offer as many frame sizes as they can think of – 1cm increments and a choice of sloping or standard means 14 options at least, that we could think of. Imagine spending a couple of hundred thousand dollars on a mould for each? That is why the more budgetconscious brands offer only four or five…

It also lets them get closer to that holy grail of bike frames – race-ready but comfortable. The C60 is the smoothest Colnago we have ridden to date, and part of that has to be to do with the attention to detail each frame gets. These are not built by Taiwanese robots. They are not even built in the Colnago main facility just outside Milan. They are built in a special facility below Ernesto Colnago’s own house, across the road from the factory. No pressure, then.

We like big BBS
The downtube is ginormous. As is the BB shell – half-again bigger than the C59 we rode last year. This has stiffened the frame noticably. It’s not the lightest frame on the market, giving away 300-400g on some of the weight-weenies’ wet dreams, but light means little if you can’t transfer the power, something the firm has learnt though six decades of supplying frames to Grand Tour winners, World Champions and hourrecord annihilators.

The top tube and seat tubes are similarly oversized – the front derailleur even needs a little indent in the frame to fit – and the headtube is massive and rigid – this is a great sprinter/rouleur bike. The final touch – again, this makes it clear the people behind this bike actually ride – is the aluminium dropouts. We aren’t sure why, but we agree with the Italians that this just feels more secure. Clamping your wheels in too tight is something we should all be allowed to do. Carbon dropouts call for extra care, and this is a high-usage area, where we can’t always be as careful as we should be.

Power
This is the first full redesign for Campy in a number of years, and the departure from the boxy, heel-threatening cranks of the 2014 and earlier cranksets could not be more pronounced. The four-arm spider is massive, and as stiff as anything we have ridden – and gone is the compact-or-standard choice at the till: the rings bolt directly into the back of each arm, and both compact and ‘normal’ chainrings fit the same crankset. So, if you have booked an Alpine holiday away from your early-morning
Strava races, you can ditch the 39/53 rings, and pop on a 34/50, without having to buy a whole new ensemble.

Front shifting is vastly improved, which has a whole lot to do with the front mech we will look at later, but also because of the stiffness of the chainrings and their new fixing points. The unit spins on a titanium BB spindle (Record and The massive down tube is moulded in Conago’s unique star shape, for extra stiffness and lighter weight, and is now bonded to starshaped lugs too. And the BB is huge. below use steel) and ceramic bearings, ensuring there’s little loss in either the smoothness or weight departments.

It is mounted to the C60 through Colnago’s proprietary ThreadFit 82.5 system, which combines threaded and pressfit technologies. Standard press-fit systems can lead to creaky frames and early bearing degradation, if the frame isn’t faced absolutely perfectly. They are easy for manufacturers, though, especially in massproduction.

With only 60 C60 Anniversary frames on offer, that is not a factor, so the new lug at the BB comes, essentially, with screw-in press-fit faces. While we look at the lugs, the C60 has upped the ante a bit with the shaping here, with star-shaped lugs allowing them to use the uniquely profiled tubing for the entire frame, not just the middle of each tube. That means more stiffness, and less weight.

Chained Melody
The drivetrain for the 2015 gruppo is a mix of old and new. The cassette is identical, save for an extra Alpine option or two, with a 29-tooth rear available just in case Jeeves can’t fetch you from the foot of your Fresnaye driveway, and the chain remains unchanged – and after a shaky start in the 11-speed genre, these are now
as reliable as they come.

The derailleurs, though, are all-new. Let’s start with the much-ignored front mech. Campagnolo has reworked the pivots and range of motion, and given it a Shimano-esque longer (and more upright) cable lever arm. This reduces the throw of the shift lever dramatically, and we found front changing on a par with the best on the market, Shimano’s Dura Ace, for the first time since the 80s.

At last! Light to the touch, you no longer feel like you are strangling a cat when you shift up. In part, that might be because of the re-worked left Ergopower shifter, which now offers a three-position set-up, rather than the old version which offered a never-ending series of micro adjustments. Trim is taken from your hands, and relies on perfect set-up. Once achieved, we couldn’t find chainrub in any form, no matter how much we cross-chained.

Looking at the levers, you’ll think little has changed. You will be right. They are still using the same pre-’15 shell, with internal changes discussed earlier on the left, and a completely new cable pull ratio on both, which makes for swifter shifting front and rear, but also means you can’t mix-and-match model years. The hoods have
had some attention, with a new design and some new materials, for better grip in sweaty hands. The comforting nub at the top of the lever is still there, as is the thumbhook downshift lever, both of which we love. Enough hand positions for national treasure Thamsanqa Jantjie, even.

The rear derailleur has seen a host of changes, some subtle and some obvious. It weighs just 166g, thanks to its designers’ allergy to heavy things like steel and aluminium. The carbon construction is strong and light, and the redesigned parallelogram is broader than its predecessor, offering crisper shifting, and under more load.
A bushed top pulley is matched with a ceramic-bearinged lower unit, and the new design offers more chain-wrap, which means better chain wear and smoother shifting. A pair of new springs, replacing one big one, makes for a much lighter lever feel, along with the new cable-pull ratio, throughout the shifting range.

Okay, so the C60 Anniversary doesn’t come with the new Super Record brakes – which doesn’t really matter, because they are unchanged from last year. Instead, the frame comes with direct-mount calipers that bolt straight into the frame and fork, offering a big jump in stiffness and, if we are honest, improve the braking of the groupset. Campy’s stoppers have never been the best out there. Good enough, sure – but not sphincter-twitchingly sharp like Shimano or SRAM. These babies are right up there, though, and once set up (after a little fiddling), we loved the modulation and the turbocharged power when needed.

Bora Beauties
Testing wheels for a week with tubular tyres is cheating, really.
Tubs are just so nice to ride, but they are not practical on our stoney, holey roads. These are the Bora Ultra 35mm models, which do come in a clincher model. Which is good, because even with the 200g weight penalty, they still come in under 1 400g. Fairly obviously, riding a set of 1 160g wheels is going to make you feel angelic on the
climbs. Stand up and pedal, and the response is immediate, and thanks to the wide cross-section and sensible spoking pattern, there is no loss in efficiency through flex anywhere in the system. Ceramic bearings round it all out – smooth-rolling and housed in sexy carbon hubs.

We’ve had our fair share of carbon-rim braking challenges as this technology has got itself sorted, and Campy has found a sweet spot here. In the dry.
We didn’t have a chance to ride them in the rain (and we might have stayed at home and used the excuse to drool some more anyway, even if Ernesto doesn’t mind his bikes getting wet), so we can’t vouch personally for the general feeling that they are pretty predictable then too.

Verdict

As it should be for this amount of money, a seriously impressive ride. Far smoother than expected with those massive tubes, yet stiff enough to mash. The Super Record is biblically lovely. And those wheels…

Colnago C60 Anniversary
Price R160 000,
www.colnago.com
www.campagnolo.nom