First Ride: Colnago C64

TUCSON, Arizona (VN) — Arrivederci, C60. Colnago has bred its new C64 to replace its venerable C60, and with many of the same charms.

Each frame is hand-built in Italy, and each lugged carbon C64 cures on the jig for around 15 hours. Colnago can make about 12 a day. Colnago’s signature star-shaped tubing, gorgeous paint job, and swirling handwriting of Ernesto Colnago himself are all part of the classy package.

That accounts for much of the astronomical price tag. The rim brake frame will run you $5,999; that includes the fork, seatpost, headset, and internal clamp as well. All totaled, that’s only about $100 more than the C60 cost. A disc-ready frame will also be available, but the price has not yet been determined.

While the C64 looks an awful lot like the C60, the differences go beyond aesthetics. The C64 is lighter than the C60 for starters. Colnago says the new rig is 205 grams lighter than its predecessor; that means it tips the scales at 900 grams (size 50sl). The frame accommodates all drivetrain configurations with internal routing and a proprietary stem that will be available aftermarket for a cable-free aesthetic.

And it’s hiding even more surprises in the Toray carbon frame, starting with the proprietary headset cap that’s made from a shock-absorbing polymer to help smooth out the front end. It also appears on Colnago’s aero ride, the Concept. The fork has been redesigned too. The axle-to-crown measurement is 5 millimeters longer to help accommodate larger tires (Colnago says the C64 accepts up to a 28-millimeter tire) and the dropouts are full carbon. It’s lighter too, saving up to 45 grams.

The frame tubing has received an overhaul too. While the top tube remains the same as the C60, the down tube is 3 millimeters narrower, particularly close to the bottom bracket lug. This helps shave some weight, but it also opens up some room should you drop your chain and need to fish it out. Colnago says it’s slightly stiffer than the C60. The water bottle cage is slightly recessed to save weight. It also offers an aerodynamic advantage.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the C64 and the C60 is the seat lug, which is a single piece that houses an internal seat clamp. The seat tube is slightly truncated and tapers into a star shape near the bottom bracket lug. The seatpost is the same shape as the V1 and V2-R, which offers some compliance. It also shaves grams since it’s closer to a 27.2mm size rather than a 31.6mm.

The rear dropouts are now fully part of the chain stays in order to lower weight.

Geometry remains largely unchanged, though the head tube on the C64 is shorter than that of the C60, mostly to accommodate the longer fork. Notably, Colnago will no longer offer traditional sizes, opting instead for its proprietary sloping, or SL, sizes. High-stack sizes will also be available. The frame will be available in four standard colors, as well as two “art décor” color schemes.

First ride

The C64 certainly makes its case as a dream bike, which is fortunate given the price tag. It looks cool — right on down to the finer details like the star-shaped tubing, flawless lugs, and excellent paint. And it rides like a dream bike should: smooth, responsive, and just plain fun.

Geometry goes a long way toward making the C64 feel balanced and nimble. The size 52SL (which closely resembles a size 55cm or 56cm in most other brands) mirrors the C60’s geometry, so there were no surprises here. The only difference is a slightly shorter head tube. That’s countered by the slightly longer fork, so it’s a wash, basically.

Photo: Colnago

With racing roots and capabilities, the C64 feels amply stiff in sprints. While it probably won’t contend with the likes of aero bikes with massive, overbuilt bottom bracket shells, the C64 holds its own and felt like a solid platform for long, out of the saddle climbs. That’s perhaps due in part to the generous ThreadFit 82.5 bottom bracket. (If you want to spend a few more bucks, Colnago offers a bottom bracket upgrade that it developed in conjunction with CeramicSpeed.)

It rolls smoothly over chatter but definitely bucks slightly under hard hits. In other words, it feels very much like an all-rounder: Compliance is second fiddle to road feel, but it’s still there, quieting rapid road inputs. Don’t expect endurance-style comfort — racing roots, remember? — but the C64 it’s a good middle ground here.

The handling is the real charm of this rig. It lags just slightly behind your steering input. If that sounds like a bad thing, you’re probably among the ultra-responsive race bike ilk. The C64 isn’t that; it’s slightly more forgiving than a really twitchy race bike like the S-Works Tarmac, but it’s not lazy either. You can push this into hard, high-speed turns with relative ease, you’ll just need to coax it into the tightest stuff. To distill that down: If your race resumé is long and thorough, you’re probably used to Tarmac-style steering. The rest of us want responsive, but not so responsive that we have to be completely attentive every moment of the ride. C64 hits this sweet spot perfectly.

And it also makes a case as a collector’s item, which is incredibly difficult to do in an era of almost-throwaway carbon frames that all look the same. The gorgeous lugs and sculpted tubing adorned with Ernesto Colnago’s distinctive scrawling signature would find a comfortable home over your mantelpiece once its riding days are over.

We’ve only got about 55 miles on the C64, and we’re happily looking forward to more long-term testing to get a better sense of the C64’s true character over time.

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