Colnago’s new C68 presents a significant step away from the outgoing C64blending modern, aero-influenced aesthetics with an advanced lugged construction underneath the hood.
With these changes, the C68 adopts a silhouette that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Tour-winning Colnago V3RSwith its sloping top tube and complex tube shapes, while retaining the tube-to-tube build we’ve come to expect from the Italian brand’s C-series bikes.
On the road, the bike handles supremely well – it’s everything a modern superbike should be – and, other than two small niggles, has a build kit befitting its genuine superbike status.
For the full tech story behind the new bike – including the announcement of the C68Ti with custom, 3D-printed lugs – head to my news story on the 2022 Colnago C68.
Here, I’m going to focus on the Dura-Ace equipped model we’ve had in to test ahead of the launch.
Colnago C68 Dura-Ace spec overview
As expected, my test bike features top-spec build.
Shimano’s latest Dura-Ace R9200 groupset and the matching Dura-Ace C50 wheelset form the basis of the bike.
The drivetrain uses a sporty combination of 52/36 chainset and 11-30 cassette. It’s a great combination for fast road riding and I particularly like the 11-30 cassette’s gear spread. The wheels are fitted with Pirelli’s P Zero tires in a 28mm width.
Colnago provides its CC.01 one-piece cockpit, and this is one of the highlights of the bike.
It features a flattened top section flowing into the minimal stem, which looks great. The tops provide a comfortable position when climbing.
The elbow before the hoods is also flatter and wider than most bars, which provides a comfortable hand position when riding on the hoods.
The drops jut outwards by a centimeter from the hoods, but not by using a backsweep or flare. This effectively gives you a wider bar when riding in the drops, improving handling when descending, yet when you’re up on the hoods you can maintain a more aero position.
While the cockpit itself is a masterpiece of carbon manufacturing, the out-front mount – which is made from injection-moulded plastic – simply isn’t.
It includes two length options and a myriad of inserts to fit all the major GPS units and a GoPro-style under-mount too.
However, when you’re dealing with a bike this expensive, I’d expect something more akin to HideMyBell’s carbon mount, or even Silca’s 3D-printed titanium unit.
Colnago also supplies a D-shaped carbon seatpost to suit the frame, which is topped off with a Foreword Scratch M5 saddle, though you only get the second-tier version with metal rails, rather than the range-topping carbon-railed version.
Colnago C68 Dura-Ace geometry
The Colnago C68 sees much more variation in head angle and other key geometry figures throughout its size range than most of its rivals.
Head tube angles start at 70.6 degrees on the smallest R420 up to 73.1 degrees on the largest R570. Seat angles also get slacker throughout the size range, starting at 75.5 degrees on the smallest, through to 73 degrees on the largest.
This is combined with a long and low ride position. My C68 in a size R550 – a close equivalent to a typical 58cm – comes with a reasonably low 593mm stack height and long 403mm reach.
The trail figure is also a couple of millimeters longer than most out-and-out race bikes at 61mm.
It’s a shape that’s very much that of a race bike, but one that’s not so extreme as to exclude riders unable to hold a pro-rider position all day.
Colnago C68 Dura-Ace ride impressions
In the not-too-distant past, I had been riding the Colnago V3 – the more affordable (in relative terms) version of Tadej Pogačar’s V3RS, and came away impressed.
The C68 feels somewhat familiar to that machine in the way it handles on the road, but every element is elevated to the highest levels.
The C68 is simply a magnificently handling bike.
All at once, it feels nimble yet flighty. Its stiffness, especially through the pedals, makes for a reactive ride that, when combined with its low weight and excellent wheels and tires, climbs with the very best.
The stunning stiffness never comes across as harsh, and the responsive handling – which makes mid-corner corrections on fast descents a breeze – never drifts into nervousness.
While the ride feels firm and the bike feels somewhat taught, it’s not uncomfortable, even on long rides.
The Pirelli tires also offer superb compliance and tons of grip, leaving me impressed throughout all of my test rides.
I really like the overall shape of the CC.01 cockpit and found the Prologo saddle to be very comfortable.
That said, on a bike priced at over €14,000 (international pricing TBC), the saddle should be the best offering in the range, rather than the second-tier version seen here.
As we’ve seen on several test bikes now, the Dura-Ace drivetrain is exceptional. The shifting is swift and slick, even when out of the saddle stomping on the pedals.
The cleanness of the semi-wireless design is used to the max on the C68, with no blanking plates or inserts hiding mechanical compatibility. The C68 chassis looks every inch the superbike it undoubtedly is.
Colnago C68 Dura-Ace bottom line
If you ignore all of the ephemera around the C68 (NFTs, blockchain records, white glove service…), what’s left is a bike Colnago needed to make with the new C series.
While the C64 was a great bike, it’s steeped in heritage, right down to its lugged design.
This is especially true when you compare Colnago to its domestic rivals – Pinarello has fully embraced aerodynamics with its F series racing machines, Bianchi has its CV technology, and Wilier brings integration and advanced design to the Filante.
If Colnago stuck to its previous path, it ran the risk of becoming a heritage brand, rather than a 21st century brand with heritage.
With the C68, it delivers genuinely innovative tech in a familiar package that will appeal to fans of the brand.
The C68 is superb, and I’ve absolutely loved my time on it. I may never be in the position to buy one (and very few of us ever will), but I can admire the design and wax lyrical about the ride for days.