Colnago C68 Road Review: A fantastic ride, but less unique than the first.

A major road bike from Colnago’s latest C-series. The Colnago chases the modern with the new C68, and while it offers excellent performance,Multi-piece carbon fibre construction, truncated airfoil tube shapes, T47 threaded bottom bracket, fully internal cable routing, manufactured in Italy. it still loses something in the process.

Colnago C68

This bike is absolutely fantastic to ride, but that comment sums up well the one thing missing from Colnago’s new flagship machine.

It’s still luggage, really

Like every Colnago C-series since the C40 debuted in 1994, the C68 is made from a set of small sections of frame that stick together.  But this time around, Colnago has decided to eliminate the more traditional lugged beauty of the previous generation, instead switching to a multi-piece construction method that leaves most of the joints invisible.  Everything except the two bond lines are essentially seamless, further hidden under the generous help of colour.  And the bond joints that Colnago deliberately leaves to display prominently in the head tube and seat cluster do not stand out as they once did.

 

This phase transition is intended to inform people that C68 has not forgotten its lugged heritage, but the effectiveness of this visual cue is debatable.

Old lobed tube cross-sections have also been abandoned in favour of a more aerodynamically truncated airfoil profile, and the D-shaped carbon fibre seatpost is shared with more competitive-minded V3Rs.  Below is the T47 threaded bottom bracket, complete internal routing with the new one-piece CC.01 carbon fibre bar-and-stem, and at least for now, the C68 is only offered for use with disc brakes and electronic drivetrains.

Why the C68 dramatic change?

Colnago says that these style building frames offer more tuning flexibility and greater rigidity than the C64, as well as better part stability compared to the modular monocoque construction that favours mass production.  The multi-piece concept also retains the geometry customization measure, which further enhances the choice of the C68 Titanium, which uses bespoke 3D-printed titanium lugs on the head tube and the seat cluster for riders who want more adjustment.

  

There is another obvious bond joint in the seat tube, but it is still a different beauty than the C64.

 If you read between the lines, the obvious fact is that the C64 is undeniably ambitious and unique among its peers, with that kind of legacy and emotional gameplay eventually losing momentum.  Even if he had to abandon his curious old-fashioned-new aesthetic in the process, at least to some extent, the C68 had to get on with time.

Nonetheless, the enthusiasm for its C-Series flagship is still shining, says Colnago.

Does it look amazing to ride?

Set aside this whole debate about lugs and heritage, because when you get this thing on the road it will fade.  Out there, it’s absolutely amazing.

With a few exceptions, high-end road racing bikes converge into one of two buckets.  One of them is to chase aerodynamic gains at any / all costs;  The other is mostly focused on light weight, but involves a modicum of aero shape to help cheat the air.  The first problem is that they are usually heavier and not more comfortable, and while the latter is much lighter, the ride quality is still easy and chatty.

  

In profile, the rear end is as common as it is.

The C68 falls into that second bucket, with its more traditional profile and modest D-shaped tubes promising some semblance of aerodynamic efficiency.  But at 5130 g for 51s (which speaks to the Colnago-roughly 56 centimetres), the C68 is not so light, especially when you consider that figure does not include colour or hardware.  When comparing apples to apples, it is approximately 200-300 grams heavier than the giant TCR Advanced SL disk, Trek Emonda SLR, Special S-Works Tarmac SL7, or Cannondale SuperSix Evo.

Weight was not the main target of Colnago’s C-Series bikes.  This is the quality of the ride. And in that sense, this new C68 hits the nail at the head.

Colnago has supplied a prime model for testing here, complete with the Ultra-Posh Campagnolo Super Record EPS Electronic Groupset, Campagnolo Bora WTO 45 Carbon Wheels 28mm (27mm Actual Width)  Carbon fibre bar-and-trunk, and D-shaped Colnago setback mounted on a carbon fibre seatpost with a titanium-rail Prologo Scratch M5 CPC saddle.  The actual weight is 7.49 kg (16.49 lb), without pedals or accessories – not bad, but not amazing.

Looking back on those numbers, the C68 is great.  The ride is firm and full of feedback, but not punishing in any way.  The 27mm-wide Pirelli’s 82/80 PSI back / front (which is taller than my 73kg frame) is very soft on everything except the dirt pavement with the stock.  Instead of shaking your shoulders and scrambling your eyes, the big effects translate to dull sound.  There is a sense of considerableness to the whole thing, and almost – dare I say it – luxury.  It is compact and comfortable, and not as fragile or skittery as similar-minded bikes.

The 45mm depth wheels are a good fit for the semi-aero frame.

The overall frame stiffness is excellent, at least in the size of my “48s” (about 52 cm in traditional terms).  It’s not a blow-your-mind stout in the lower bracket like the Giant TCR or Emonda SLR, but it is very loud and highly responsive with no hint of power changes in the pedals.  Front end torsional rigidity is also very high, giving more precise handling and greater confidence when diving into fast corners under hard braking.

As for the frame geometry, the Colnago is still modelling the C68 as a race bike, so no surprise here.  Colnago uses the same 43 mm fork rake for the seven frame sizes available, so the trail varies from 75 mm to 59 mm in the smallest size.  This is a 69mm road centre for my particular tester, which also has a relatively stubborn 590mm front centre and a neat 985mm wheelbase.  The chainstays are only 408mm shorter across the board from the lower bracket centre to the rear hub and each size gets the same 72mm bottom bracket drop.

 

All things considered, the steering is quick and reactive, the C68 deftly carves tight and fast sloping hairpins and moves around last-minute obstacles.  It is eager and throwable, light on its feet.  It loves to play.  But when you are at full tuck at 70 km / h it is stable and quiet, planted firmly to the ground without the slightest crack in the tarmac that it bounces off the shoulder in the off-line.

Although the management is quick and quick, Colnago has positioned the rider in the C68 as compared to the V3Rs that are usually preferred by UAE Team Emirates riders.  The Reach is essentially unchanged, but the stock is a few millimetres tall for a slightly more relaxed posture.  It’s a far cry from the endurance bike area, and there’s still plenty of weight on the front end to help with the initial turn-in, but I guess most riders welcome the subtle change in the saddle over the long haul.

  Specification and details

The Campagnolo EPS Electronic Platform is lengthy past due for a chief overhaul, however the Super Record EPS Flagship Groupset covered right here remains a deal with to use.  Shifts are both quick and precise – the hair is clunkier than the Shimano – and the upshift and downshift levers are completely separate so your fingers have no chance of misunderstanding one another.  It runs very quietly and is available in plenty of range with 12 sprockets (and 11-32T cassettes).

Campagnolo’s disc brakes – co-developed with Magora – are the best in the business with an excellent lever feel, low binary opening bite and an enormous amount of power to match just a hint of sound.  While the style may not suit you, it’s hard to deny that Super Record has a lot of EPS.

Unfortunately, nothing hides the age of the EPS platform or its technical disadvantages compared to the new competition.  Both Shimano and SRAM levers are wireless (although Shimano still has derailleurs and battery-connected wires), and their companion applications are more feature-rich.  There are no remote shifter options for the Campagnolo EPS, and, quite surprisingly, you will need to attach a bulky magnetic strap around the seatpost-mounted battery to manually turn off the system after the ride (otherwise it will remain in standby mode and drain the battery steadily).

And while those brakes have a strong following in the Cyclingtips zones, the Campagnolo design still offers minimal pad clearance for the big three.  Fortunately, the front and rear disc mounts on the C68 are completely flat and square, so the rotor rub was never a problem.  The lever blades still lack the proper Reach alignment, however, and combined with the massive ergopower bodies, most riders with smaller hands prefer to look elsewhere.

 

The Super Record EPS may be long in the tooth, but it’s still a good thing.

Wheels are hard to fault.

They are smooth and airy (crosswind stability can be good), stiff and responsive, and ride well.  Previous experience has repeatedly confirmed that hybrid ceramic cup-and-cone bearings are some of the best available: fast rolling, durable, easy to service and easily adjustable.  The build quality is just as good as the previous Campagnolo wheels I’ve used, the finish quality is nothing, and while this particular setup is tube-type, the solid outer rim walls are cinch to fit the tubeless without any manipulation.  Tape for migration or peeling.

One thing to note: Our test bike comes with Campagnolo’s second-tier Bora WTO 45 carbon clinchers, not the top-shelf Bora Ultra WTO 45.  Colnago lists major wheels on its product page, though, which is the only necessary alternative for our test sample.

Colnago’s decision to use a one-piece carbon fibre bar-and-trunk with complete internal routing was fully anticipated, and although I still had concerns about the concept, the implementation here solved some of them.

 Each of CC.01’s 16 sizes requires a different mould (or, depending on how Colnago does it, at least a different mould configuration).

First and foremost, it is good to see that the Colnago CC.01 cockpit offers 16 different length and width combinations to provide greater fit tunability.  Flat tops are also not flat, they are uncomfortable to hold, and the semi-anatomical drop shape should be acceptable to most.  Congratulations to Colnago for using the traditional 1 1/8 ″ round steerer tube and for making the system fully (functionally and aesthetically) compatible with some options from Deda.  In other words, if the stock CC.01 doesn’t fit your needs or needs, you can always go with the Deda One-Piece Setup or Two-Piece One.

Routing is still a pain, however, as the lines move inside the bar and trunk before taking a downward curve between the steerer tube and the upper headset bearing.  Colnago CeramicSpeed’s solid-lube SLT headset bearings are wisely specified for lifetime operation, but you still need to unbolt the front brake calliper to get enough hose length when it time to smooth and re-grease the headset bearing seats.  And unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the C68 can effectively handle those big bumps in the road, which are occasionally with some hose and / or wire rattling in the down tube (maybe fixed with some foam insulation).

Let’s not forget about the C68’s integrated multi-tool, which comes courtesy of the granite design and is neatly hidden inside the steer tube.  This is a neat idea (and I’ve used it several times, especially in early setup rides), but you feel your fingernails are good and strong as you need to peel off the friction-fit cap.  The stubby tool bits are not long enough to reach some bolts, and the short tool body provides minimal control – perhaps a single-sided aluminium body that will bend or break if you actually torque it.  However,

Fortunately the tool is not needed, and without it, there is still a nice aluminium reinforcement sleeve that extends below the upper headset bearing to increase the carbon fibre stirrer.

saddle.

There is one last thing I want to address: saddle.  The low and stubby design is quite comfortable with plenty of support from high density foams and the grippy CPC surface works just as advertised.  But on a bike with this sky-high price, shouldn’t the rails be carbon fibre instead of titanium?  Well, I’m doing a night pick here, but when you’re paying for something like this, it’s fair to expect the best.

Price: € 15,772 (price must be confirmed for other areas).

Pros and Cons:

  Pros:

Wonderful ride quality, spot-on fit and handling, solid and sturdy feel, sleek and modern aesthetics, ample size options for the integrated front.

  Cons:

Too expensive for the eye, internal routing is still a pain, and somehow doesn’t feel as special as the C64.

 Fast, but also safe

Turning to automotive analogies (which I have a lot to do), I think of the C68 as a road bike equivalent to a premium GT car.  It’s quick and responsive, like a dedicated track machine, but easy to live on a day-to-day basis with high margins.  It is extremely efficient.  It is expensive.  It’s terrific.  People will literally stop you to ask questions.

The C68 problem – at least in my opinion – is one of identification.  In refining the way the C68 was made to look sleeker and more modern, Colnago has taken more than the previous C-series models.  It is true that the C68 offers to save on performance, and you are unlikely to find another one on your local group ride.  And of course, the reputation of the Colnago brand name is adorned in a down tube for everyone to see.

 

Is the C68 still special enough to keep buyers out of the competition?  That remains to be seen.

The C68 is still beautiful, it’s still made in Italy, and with this kind of price tag, it’s still ultra-special.  This might be a better bike than the C64 on paper, but at this end of the market, I would argue that buyers simply don’t compare things on paper (and if they are, any number of mass-produced bikes will come out. – Manage this stuff).  It is a good bike, and I am sad to see it go.  But it remains to be seen whether there is still enough emotional drama here to put the C68 in the minds of wealthy buyers.

More information can be found at www.colnago.com.

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