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Colnago C59 Italia review

Top-flight version of Colnago's go-to race frame

This article originally published on BikeRadar

The C59 is Colnago's go-to race frame, and this top-flight Italia version is available in mechanical and electronic variants.

Colnago uses a lugged carbon construction for the C59's frame, which is available in 22 stock sizes, plus custom options. Lugging means that Colnago doesn't need to make expensive moulds for every frame size, which makes the range of sizes financially possible.

Colnago uses its classic internally ribbed 3PRS tube profile (carried over from the legendary Master frame), which gives the tubes an unusual aesthetic. Colnago says the profiling makes each tube stiff, while allowing the frame to dissipate road shocks. The leaf-shaped seatstays share this characteristic. The tubes that Colnago uses are made from Japanese Toray carbon-fibre, which is shipped to Italy and then made into frame tubes.

To aid durability, Colnago has used aluminum dropouts and inserts in the head tube, meaning headset cups can be replaced when necessary. Our only issue with the C59 came from the headset. Instead of a traditional assembly, the bearings are preloaded by two rings underneath the stem. Because of their profiling they push against each other when twisted. This twisting is done via a small Allen bolt, which rounds easily.

With a frame price just shy of £3,000 (US$5,499.95/AU$5,499 for the caliper brakes version or US$5,699.95/AU$5,999 for the disc brake version) it's no surprise that our test bike was dripping with top-level components. With Colnago's Italian heritage, it's fitting that all but the tyres come from Italian brands.

Complementing the carbon fibre of the frame is Campagnolo's mechanical Super Record groupset. The carbon brake levers are shaped to easily fit your fingers from the hoods and the drops, giving extra security and fingertip control. The hoods are ergonomically constructed with a tip that points inwards at the top.

They provide a good hand-hold for when you're muscling up climbs. Carbon fibre also features on both derailleurs and the cranks, which are stiff and light. The cranks also have a low profile so they don't get scuffed, even with winter boots on.

Shifting is accurate and incredibly positive. The shifters provide a resounding click – both in how they feel and sound. If you're used to Shimano shifters, you may need to get used to the thumb shifter's position, but it's easy to access even when in the drops. The Super Record calipers are a lesson in how to make a powerful brakes with plenty of modulation. They are excellent, even in poor conditions.

Colnago have used FSA's Team Issue wheelset for this build. The carbon rims have an aluminum braking surface and the wheels are light, stiff and predictable to brake with. The low weight of the rims helps give the C59 its sprightly character. Partnering the wheelset is the only non-Italian name on the bike – the excellent Continental Gatorskin tyres. The are supple and grippy, with good puncture protection.

The bike is finished with Colnago's own carbon post, bar and aluminum stem, along with a lightweight, comfortable Selle Italia SLR saddle. Colnago have added a layback seatpost, which gives a little extra length to the reasonably short 563mm top tube.

It's easy to pour out frame characteristic clichés when it comes to the C59. The frame's stiffness really does seem to transfer all your pedal energy into the rear wheel. At the same time the compliance offered makes this frame comfortable enough over rough road surfaces, especially when your speed picks up.

Chuck it into a corner, and the C59 holds its line with remarkable prowess thanks to the stiff head tube and 50 years of race frame design behind it. It's also agile and flickable, making every ride a grin-inducing experience.

The C59's descending ability is matched by its ascending ability when the gradient increases. It's not the lightest frame around (around 1,000g), but with its stiffness and a complete bike weight of 6.62kg, it feels like it could climb all day.

Price: £2999.95 (frame)
Pros: Great handling and performance
Cons: Start saving your pennies now
BikeRadar verdict: 4 1/2 stars
More information:

Spec as tested:

Frame: Carbon
Fork: Carbon
Brakes: Campagnolo Super Record
Cranks: Campagnolo Super Record
Derailleurs: Campagnolo Super Record
Shifters: Campagnolo Super Record
Wheels: FSA Team Issue
Tyres: Contintntal Gatorskin, 23mm
Bar: Colnago HB 01 Carbon
Stem: Colnago Nemesis
Seatpost: Colnago HM Carbon
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR
Weight: 6.62 kg (14.59 lbs.)

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