Why was I freezing in Tucson, Ariz.? Well, it was a Tuesday morning in January. The desert really doesn’t hold the previous day’s heat so it was below zero. But more to the point, like so many North American cyclists, I had gone south to ride. I had a very specific machine to check out: the new Colnago C64.

The C series, which started in the early 90s with the C40, sports a carbon-fibre tube-and-lug construction. The Toray carbon is from Japan. The tubes are cut to length and fitted to the lugs, in a similar way to steel-frame construction, in Italy. The carbon frames then cure on jigs. It’s not a speedy process—it takes 12 to 15 hours—so Colnago can only make a few C64s per day.

The “64” in the name is for the 64th year of the company, which Ernesto Colnago started in 1954. While the new frame has replaced the C60, it’s helpful to look back at the previous model to see how the company has improved its high-end, made-in-Italy bike.

Less weight on the Colnago C64

“Colnago has never been known for making the lightest frames,” said Kevin Clark of Colnago North America. “It’s always focused on making the ones that ride the best, making them robust so they last a long time and making them easy to maintain.”

Still, the C64 is lighter than its predecessor. On a Size 50 sloping frame (roughly the equivalent to a traditional Size 54), the C64 frame, excluding the fork and rear derailleur hanger, is 186 g lighter than the C60.

Colnago C64 fork

The C64’s fork has been redesigned. You’ll notice indents on the sides of each fork blade. They help to keep the weight down. A rim brake fork, according to Colnago, is 355 g. The distance from the axle to the fork crown is 5 mm longer than on the C60. This increase allows you to run wider tires. The company says the fork and frame can accommodate 28-mm-wide treads. They’re clear that they mean an actual width of 28 mm not merely the nominal designation. I’d say that amount of clearance is just keeping up with current trends for more rubber on road bikes.

Colnago C64

Riding the Colnago C64 in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

C64 tubes

Since the C59, the tube shapes have been getting more complex. That model had fluted tubes, which were rounded at the ends to mate with round lug openings. On the C60, the lugs could accept fluted, star-shaped tube ends. With the C64, many tubes have star ends and the head tube has a recessed section to save on weight. While the C60 featured a 3K carbon finish, the C64 has a UD finish.

The C60 came in two frames: one for mechanical groupsets and one for electronic ones. The C64 can accommodate all gruppos with its finishing kit. Another new feature of the C64 is its asymmetrical chainstays, which address the different braking and pedalling forces on the frame.

The down tube is narrower especially at the bottom bracket lug to cut some weight. There’s also added room in this area, which is handy if you drop your chain. It’s more likely you’ll get it out with no damage to the frame. There’s recessed section on the down tube for the front bottle cage that provides a bit of aerodynamic gain.

The company says the C64 is only slightly stiffer than the previous model at the front and bottom bracket, but has the same stiffness at the rear triangle.

The bottom bracket

Colnago continues to use its ThreadFit82.5 bottom bracket with the new C64. Inside the frame, there are threaded inserts epoxied to the bottom bracket shell. Then, alloy cups holding BB86 bearings get screwed into place. It’s a durable system that keeps the creaks at bay.

The cable guide, which was previously bolted on the bottom bracket, is now moulded in.

The company has also announced that it is working on new, wider bottom brackets with Ceramic Speed. There will be options for Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo. They will only be available as aftermarket upgrades. Details on the bottom brackets’ release and pricing are still to come.

High crash standards

“Our frames have always surpassed the crash test standards,” said Joe Berlyoung of Colnago North America. The company tests the frame by raising a 22.5 kg weight to 212 mm above the frame. The weight then comes down. Then, it’s raised to 300 mm and dropped on the same frame. Then, 450 mm. The C64 can withstand a drop from 600 mm. (Berlyong said some Colnago frames can take a hit from 900 mm.) The official EU test is to 212 mm.

The dropouts on the C60 were alloy. On the C64, the company has gone to carbon dropouts that meet its standards.

Crash sign

A helpful sign in Saguaro National Park, Ariz.

The head tube and headset on the Colnago C64

While the fork got a bit longer, the head tube got a bit shorter. This change helps to keep the geometry the same for this new C series frame. The head tube is tapered: 1 1/8 to 1 1/4″. Like the Colnago Concept aero bike, the C64 has upper cups made with carbon fibre, nylon and elastomers. These parts help to dampen road vibrations.

Disc brakes

Colnago was one of the early adopters of road disc brakes. The C59 and C60 started with front and rear post-mount brakes. The C64 runs flat-mount calipers. The C series has also seen an evolution of axle types. The C60 started with the company’s 15-mm hex lock at the front and a quick release at the rear. The later version of the C60 had a 12-mm hex lock on both the front and rear. For the C64, Colnago has moved away from the hex lock configuration in favour of standard, threaded 12-mm axles.

The disc frame is roughly 15 g heavier than the rim-brake version, which only runs direct-mount calipers.

The C64 disc fork will have what the company calls a C/D steerer tube shape that allows for brake housing to run down from the stem. Note, the production of the disc brake fork has seen some delays. If you want rotors on your C64, you’ll have to wait until March, or possibly April.

Colnago C64 seat tube and seatpost

The C64 sports a new seat tube that sees the seat-tube lug integrated with the tube itself. Inside, there’s an alloy seat clamp. You adjust your seatpost by loosening or tightening a bolt tucked under the seat-tube lug. The whole system saves about 15 g. The seat tube starts off with a Kamm tail-like shape that transitions to a star shape as it meets the bottom bracket.

The seatpost has the same D shape as that of the V2-R. The standard post has as seatback of 15 mm, but zero and 30-mm options are available.

Geometry

Colnago offers the C64 in nine of its sloping-geometry sizes and five high-stack versions that have shorter reach values. All models have a rake of 43 mm. You will have the option to order a frame with some customization.

I usually ride a traditional Size 54 for frame. Colnago set me up with a Size 50s that fit well.

Frame, fork, seatpost and headset will sell for $7,540.

Colnago C64: The ride

Colnago C64

The Colnago C64 in Saguaro National Park, Arizona

By the time I got out on the new Colnago C64, my leg warmers were off. On the first climb, I stripped of the vest. I was so happy to be riding in sun and warmth. I was also quite happy on the C64.

My first ride was a few loops in Saguaro National Park. Each lap was about 13 km and had one climb with a five per cent grade over 2.5 km. The bike, outfitted with a Campagnolo Super Record group and Bora 35 tubular wheels with 25c treads, was lively in the turns. It was well suited to the loop, with its ups and downs, and twists and turns. The C64 was plenty stiff and responsive without feeling punishing, at least on that short run.

Later, I and other testers headed north to Redington Road. We climbed until the pavement ended and things got bumpy. And we climbed some more. One rider familiar with the area said the gravel used to be more technical, which I found hard to believe. While the C64 isn’t a gravel bike at all, it is durable. I went up the dirt climb well, and descended quickly, sailing over some rough stuff before returning to the pavement and swooping turns.

My first ride was a mere 75 km. They were a fun 75 km on a fast machine, but I’d definitely like to ride farther on the C64. Maybe when things start to warm up here in the cold north.

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