The name Colnago needs no introduction in the world of road cycling, given its rich racing heritage and signature “club” shaped tubing on its steel frames. Being innovators in design and experimentation, carbon fiber is no stranger to the renowned Italian-based bicycle manufacturer. We would surely remember the C59 and M10 models underneath the legs of riders like Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland of Team Europcar at the Tour de France this year. Voeckler even had a special polka-dotted C59 for winning the KOM classification at the Tour.
While top-of-the-line models like the C59 and M10 may be out of reach for most of us, the good news is that we may get a chance of owning a beautiful steed from Colnago without necessarily breaking the bank. Here’s introducing the Colnago CLX 3.0 in classic Italian flag livery with the pearl-white base colour and green/red trim.
The looks of the CLX 3.0 is one that gradually grows on you and one can really appreciate the detailing upon closer inspection: from the specially shaped down tube cross-section to the curved seat stays, the bike is really somewhat reminiscent of the classic steel Colnagos.
The seat clamp area looks very clean with the seat post taking the shape and colour of the seat tube, making it look almost integrated.The Selle Italia X1 saddle with Colnago motifs should provide a comfortable perch for most riders (see left).
The Shimano Ultegra components (crank set, front and rear derailleurs) in the dark grey finish provide a nice contrast to the predominantly white background of the entire bike. Appropriately, the cockpit is an all Deda affair, with a white Zero 1 stem mated to a Nuova Sfida alloy carbon wrapped handlebar.
On the rolling and braking side of things, the CLX 3.0 comes equipped with a set of Shimano white-walled RS30 wheels and Colnago branded ‘X-brake one’ brake callipers respectively. The RS30s are not exactly the lightest but should be plenty strong and reliable in the long run. Those who are very particular about having a complete groupset should consider swapping out the stock brakes for the dark grey Ultegra ones.
One really thoughtful and practical feature on the CLX frame is the addition of holes (1 on the non-drive side of the top-tube area near the head tube and 1 near the front derailleur mount area) for running Di2 wires internally. Also, the down tube has pre-drilled mounts for the Di2 battery. When running a mechanical set-up like the one we have, there are supplied rubber plugs to close up the holes.
The rather burly front-end and fork of the CLX translates to a stable and predictable steering, especially when taking tight corners. Shifting is crisp and reliable as expected from the Ultegra STI levers and derailleurs. Our bike came with a compact 50/34 chainring combo and 12-25 rear cassette so it is presumably more suitable for more hilly rides.
A slight let-down is the Shimano RS-30 wheels which felt a tad sluggish when going on sudden attacks or accelerations due to its weight. The supplied Michelin Lithion 2 tires were of reasonably good grip and would probably hit up a good mileage before needing to replace them. One also notices how sturdy the bike felt and the realization that the specially-shaped tube profiles of the frame is beyond mere aesthetics-it contributes to the overall stiffness of the entire frame structure.
While the compact gearing and slightly heavier wheels were not the best combination for going all out on flat roads, the bike really shines when climbing as you feel every effort out of the saddle got into the really stiff rear end. The usual concern for road bike ‘weight weenies’ (cyclists who are obsessed about lowering the bike’s weight) is how light the frame or entire bike is and the typical phrase used these days is ‘lighter and stiffer’. Although the CLX may not be the lightest frame or bike around, perhaps it was not Colnago’s aim to make frames lighter for the sake of it: their emphasis is on maintaining their rich heritage and unique styling, riding comfort and quality.