Colnago began working with carbon in 1986 when it collaborated with Ferrari to develop a concept bike. The frameset utilised carbon tubing and lugs and the bike was finished with hydraulic brakes and a gearbox instead of derailleurs. The concept bike never made it into production, but Colnago would continue to collaborate with Ferrari.
Indeed, Ferrari assisted Colnago with the production of the C35 in 1989. The limited edition carbon bike was released as part of Colnago’s 35th anniversary celebrations with a specially embossed gold-plated Campagnolo Super Record groupset.
Colnago’s experimentation with carbon continued with the Carbitubo in the early ‘90s. Manufactured by Alan, there were two versions, one with a single downtube and another with twin carbon down tubes. The frameset utilised alloy lugs bonded to carbon tubes as per Alan’s production schedule at the time.
In 1994, Colnago celebrated its 40th anniversary with the release of the C40 but this time the company was ready to commit to full-scale production of the carbon frameset. The C40 utilised bonded tubes but Colnago went to the trouble of moulding carbon lugs for every frame size to allow 1cm increments. The C40 would go on to enjoy enormous popularity, multiple professional victories, and 10 years of production, with only a revision to the chainstays during the last years of production.
The C50 replaced the C40 in 2004, once again taking its name from the company’s next anniversary. The frameset was updated with a larger headtube (1.125 inches) but continued with the HP (High Power) diamond-cut chainstays introduced for the C40. The C50 was a little stiffer than the C40, but otherwise it upheld Colnago’s reputation for producing a fine carbon racing chassis with a classic feel.
Like the C40, the C50 enjoyed a lengthy production cycle until it was replaced by the C59 in 2013. Tube sizes and profiles were updated for the C59, but the frameset essentially continued in the same manner as the original C40 with carbon lugs, bonded tubing, numerous frame sizes and an option for custom geometry.
Given Colnago’s fondness for celebrating its anniversaries with a new bike, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the C59 has been replaced by the C60 in the year of the company’s 60th anniversary. The new frameset boasts a number of updates, the most obvious of which are new tubing profiles that have been designed to reduce weight and enhance stiffness while preserving the quality of the ride.
Before the ride
The C60 uses a new tubeset and matching lugs that are shaped to resemble Colnago’s famous Master tubeset. Thus, distinct furrows run the length of the top and down tubes, however the tubeset is larger and much more angular compared to the Master or the C59.
The furrows (or ridges) add considerable strength to the C60, and as a consequence, a little weight has been saved compared to the C59. However, Colnago manufacture the C60 to be durable too, so at around 900g for the frame, and another 350g for the fork, the new bike won’t ignite the imagination of weight weenies.
Where once a straight bore was used for the head tube, the C60 tapers from a standard 1.125 inch upper bearing to a 1.25 inch lower bearing with a matching fork steerer. Colnago supplies its own headset with the C60 including two cone spacers: one flat, and another with several millimetres of rise.
The bottom bracket shell now features Colnago’s own bottom bracket standard that is called ThreadFit82.5. The system essentially uses two threaded rings to secure an aluminium shell within the carbon bottom bracket lug. Colnago claims the system improves the precision for bottom bracket fit and extends the life of the frame. All BB86 bottom brackets are compatible with ThreadFit82.5.
The other feature of the frame that was re-designed was the dropouts. Colnago has insisted on aluminium dropouts for its flagship frameset since the inception of the C40 and continues with them for the C60. The new dropouts have been designed to be lighter and stronger while adding to the stiffness of the rear triangle.
Like the C59, the C60 is handbuilt in Cambiago, Italy using the same bonding approach established for the C40. As explained above, this approach allows Colnago to offer more frame sizes as well as accommodating requests for custom geometry. As shown below The C60 is available in 14 stock sizes:
The sizes designated with “s” have a sloping top tube and a relatively taller headtube compared to Colnago’s traditional sizes that have a horizontal top tube. I’ve not forgotten the head angles — Colnago refuses to provide this information for all of its frames.
In addition to the large range of stock sizes, Colnago also supplies the C60 in a multitude of finishes. Three schemes are available: the simple Italia finish, the modern Racing finish, or the ornate Classic finish. There is a choice of two or more colours for each scheme, making for total of one dozen options.
For this review, Colango’s Australian distributor, FRF Sports, supplied a C60 frameset with a matching seatpost with a Classic OFWH finish (white with gold highlights). The distributor also sent along an alloy 3T ARX II stem and 3T carbon Ergonova bars, to which I added Campagnolo’s Super Record RS groupset, Bora Ultra 35 wheels with Vittoria Corsa CX tubular tyres, and a Fizik Aliante saddle to complete the build.
Building up the C60 was a straightforward affair. The frame utilises internal routing for the derailleurs and rear brake cable with fittings that can be switched to suit mechanical or electronic groupsets. The frame uses a 31.6mm seatpost and a braze-on fitting for the front derailleur. Final weight for the build using a size 54s frame was 6.76kg sans pedals and bottle cages.
The recommended retail for the C60 frameset in Australia is $6,199, with the matching seatpost adding another $252. FRF Sports offers complete builds starting at $10,499 for SRAM Red or Dura Ace 9000 with Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels. For more information see the websites of FRF Sports and Colnago.
After the ride
The C60 was an impressive performer: up and down, smooth and rough, I enjoyed every moment on this bike. Some bikes continually assert themselves through exceptional stiffness or remarkable acceleration — the C60 exudes quiet confidence instead.
The C60 steers and handles precisely though the steering is relatively quick, and therefore better suited to experienced riders and racers. I never had any problems with instability or vague handling, the C60 maintained its composure at all times, and as a consequence I felt assured at any speed through any radius corner.
Colnago has stressed improvements in stiffness for the C60 however I wasn’t overwhelmed by its stiffness. The stays were firm and the bike was responsive, but powerful sprinters may find the C60 a little wanting. Instead, I appreciated how well balanced the bike felt — light enough, stiff enough, and quick enough — regardless of the terrain.
The C60’s large rectangular chainstays and fork legs threatened a harsh ride and reminded me of Columbus Max tubing from the ‘90s. It was remarkably stiff and well suited to large and powerful riders but was also very harsh. The C60 suffered none of this harshness.
Road buzz was effectively dampened, but never eliminated. Some riders would prefer to see it disappear but I believe that some feedback is necessary to understand how to handle the bike. As such, the C60 never caught me unawares, and indeed, I’d say we enjoyed a healthy dialogue.
In all my time on the C60, I was only able to identify one small fault: the extra wide downtube flares too closely to the chainrings. In the event of a dropped chain, the gap is just wide enough for the chain to become trapped (but not jammed). I only discovered the issue after the event when I had to dismount and spend a few minutes carefully tugging on the chain so as to preserve the paintwork on the downtube. Don’t neglect to install a chain catcher if you buy a C60.
Summary and final thoughts
I found myself reminiscing about my old handbuilt steel bikes from the ‘90s while riding the C60. There’s no point in directly comparing the C60 with a steel bike because it is lighter, stiffer, and more refined, but the old and new share the same classic ride that is difficult to describe to those that have not experienced it. It’s a combination of silkiness with a lively attitude and a pragmatic approach that affords a meaningful dialogue between the bike, the road, and the rider.
At the upper end of the market there are no duds. All of the C60’s competitors are light and strong while offering exceptional performance. However, the C60 is distinguished by the number of stock frame sizes and finishes on offer. The extra choices add considerable value to the asking price of the C60.
For those readers looking for some data to sway their view or some other objective measure to at least put the performance of the C60 into context, let me offer this: the C60 is greater than the sum of its parts. Study just one trait and you’ll overlook all that it has to offer.
- Classic ride
- Plenty of finish options
- Large range of stock sizes