Eurobike 2012 tech: Colnago expands electric/hydraulic range

Italian bike brand moves into the future

This article first appeared on Bikeradar.

While retaining seemingly retro aspects of bicycle design such as lugged frames, Colnago is pushing boldly into the future with proprietary new-school technology such as hydraulic/electric brake/shift levers for Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS drivetrains, designed in conjunction with brake-maker Formula.

At Eurobike, Colnago showed off a number of machines with electric drivetrains, including a cyclo-cross bike with Ultegra Di2, but the most impressive were the bikes with the Formula hydraulic/electric levers.

Earlier this year, Colnago had a fairly rough prototype of the Di2 Formula lever. BikeRadar tested the C59 prototype in April at the Sea Otter Classic. One of our complaints then was that the shift buttons were too close together. This issue has since been remedied, and the new levers have broad shift paddles with distinct textures for each button.

What's brand new is the Formula lever for electric Campagnolo EPS drivetrains. Like the Di2 set-up, this system has buttons in place of cable-pulling or releasing levers placed in the same spot - and with a similar feel - as those on traditional levers. Then, the brake lever activates the 140mm C59-branded hydraulic brake system, for which the C59 frame had to be redesigned.

Prices in dollars and in pounds were not immediately available at the show. The bikes will be available in October or November.

Also new from the Italian brand is the C29 carbon fiber hardtail 29er. The 1150g frame comes in three sizes, with a tapered head tube and lugged construction. The frameset is made in Italy.

As to why Colnago still uses lugs, company spokesman Alessandro Zenesini said there are a few reasons.

"One, lugs give you flexibilty to make full custom in carbon," he said, pointing out that monocoque frames require molds, which is cost-prohibitive for single frames. "And two, all the stress points of a bicycle are naturally reinforced by the lugs."

Speaking of custom carbon, the C78 "Colnago for Ferrari" machine is available in custom sizing for fans of cycle- and motorsport.

And, if you really want a traditional bike, Colnago still offers custom lugged frames in steel.

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