This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
The standard CX Zero is designed for gran fondos (sportives) and the Classics, with Thomas Voeckler and his Team Europcar colleagues using it for this year's races.
Although the UCI hasn't yet sanctioned disc brakes, our CX Zero carries the UCI badge of approval – so either Colnago knows something we don't or its paintshop got over-excited…
Highs: Classic Colnago handling combined with a smooth ride and some fine components
Lows: For this money we'd expect a hydraulic brake setup
Buy If: You want a bike with a ride that's equal parts fast, fun handling and comfort-giving smoothness
But just what makes the CX Zero a gran fondo or endurance bike? Well, frame clearances have been increased so that it can easily take a 28mm tyre (ours came with 25mm Continentals) and the wheelbase has been increased to over a metre. But the front end is only 7mm taller than the C60 race bike's and the top-tube a mere 2mm shorter.
With the standard stem fitted this is really a nod towards accepted 'endurance geometry' rather than a full-on sportive-type redesign. It has Colnago's usual superbly balanced handling but with a slight, subtle shift in your riding position. Using spacers and a shorter stem you could make it more comfort biased, but out of the box the CX Zero delivers a great riding position.
The Italian bike comes with Italian components
Unlike Colnago's C59 Disc, the CX Zero was designed for disc brakes from the outset. This means that a lot of work has been done to make sure that the combination of its slender flattened seatstays and top-tube and large down-tube delivers the required levels of balance, stiffness and strength.
Those seatstsays and the upwards-kicking chainstays provide noticeable suppleness over broken surfaces. The handling is especially assured over the tight turns and rutted sections of our test loop and very stable in the rough.
The Ultegra drivetrain is as faultless and smooth as you'd expect. And UK readers will be pleased to note that, in the UK, Colnago has chosen to upgrade the wheels to DT Swiss's excellent Spline 24s – it was originally due to have Colnago's more modest own-brand Artemis wheels.
Shimano's mechanical disc brakes have 'Ice' rotors
The only obvious downgrade in an otherwise impressive spec is the brakes. At this price we'd have expected hydraulic brakes, though we actually get Shimano's R517 mechanical system. These don't have the cachet of a hydraulic system, but their performance – especially as the CX Zero is fitted with Shimano's heat-dissipating Ice rotors – isn't that far removed from a hydraulic setup. In wet weather the braking is streets ahead of rim caliper brakes.
The feel at the lever is consistent and progressive and we only encountered screeching, squealing brakes once – and that was in a torrential downpour.
Overall, though we'd have expected hydraulic stoppers, Colnago's CX Zero oozes class. Its ride is smooth and accomplished and its handling as good as any Colnago we've tried. The Italian marque clearly believes in discs and its Zero shows that it could be a contender in this brave new disc-braking world.