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Colnago C59 frameset



Superb example of Italian frame building expertise, yes it's expensive… but it's worth it

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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  • Exceptional
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  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
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  • Bad
  • Appalling

The first road stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia saw the unveiling of Colnago’s latest top of the range C59 being ridden by Colnago-CSF Inox sprinter Sacha Modolo after 4 years in development. The frame follows on from the technology used on Colnago’s EPS model but has been put a diet bringing the frame in at around 950g.

We'll get to all the technical details later but first you'll want to know what it rides like…? Superbly, is the short answer, the frame is absolutely sublime, getting the right mixture of comfort and stiffness is nearly always a compromise when designing a frame but I’d say it’s pretty spot on here. Obviously the C59 is a pro level bike so dealing with the relative amounts of power your average club rider can put out compared to the sprinters at the tour probably doesn’t cause it too much of a headache.

Even with the harsh deep section carbon wheels our test bike came with there was no hint of road buzz getting through to your contact points but yet none of your power input is lost. Long days in the saddle are easily achieved thanks to the relaxed nature of the C59, the ride is certainly engaging but only when you want it to be. On a relaxed club run or an early evening steady ride the C59 is right at home cruising along requiring very little rider input (apart from turning the pedals obviously) but when you want to get a move on it really shifts.

The bulk of the testing was carried out on my old training roads taking in the hills of Dorset, many years of club runs on various bikes giving me a good benchmark to compare the C59 to and it certainly impressed. The Colnago is a joy to climb on, long steady climbs are dealt with in comfort being able to sit in the saddle and keep the pedals spinning while the short sharp ones take just a rise out of the saddle and a couple of stamps on the pedals to reach the brow and accelerate over the top. Whether in or out of the saddle, that overall stiffness plays its advantage again wasting none of the power. Faced with technical descents or other obstacles the C59 responds to every command whether through the controls or a shift in body weight.

Steering is very quick but not in a skittish way and the front end weights up nicely through tight bends on descents. No flex at all is felt from the 100% carbon fork allowing you to carry plenty of speed while banking the bike over. You’re never going to lose the sprint for the village sign either due to the rapid acceleration that the light weight and stiffness brings; it really does pick up speed like nothing I’ve ever ridden.

The ‘Omega’ carbon fibre frame was developed in collaboration with Ferrari engineers and is completely hand built in the Italian factory. Colnago sticks with its lugged construction which allows a huge range of sizes, 22 to be exact (14 traditional and 8 sloping) giving a virtually custom fit carbon frame. There are 150 different moulds in the factory and 30 different head tube lugs to accommodate all the variations. Each individual lug is made up of 12 layers of carbon cloth consisting of woven and uni-directional fibre sheets. The tubes are hand wound from pre-impregnated carbon fibre cloth as well; this allows the tubes to be laid up to control the composition and ride characteristics of each individual frame size.

Both the top tube and down tube are created using a mandrel to achieve the cloverleaf profile, the tubes include an internal I-beam rib which Colnago states is there to maximise stiffness. The top tube is tapered ranging from 40mm diameter at the head tube end where the larger stresses are placed down to 35mm at the seat tube end. At the front Colnago’s C-HS2 semi-integrated headset is used, being 1 1/8” top and bottom bucks the trend of most new frames as everyone seems to be going tapered. A Q2-Stay rear triangle has deep section chain and seat stays to keep thing stiff at the rear end. The flowing curves create a nice contrast to the almost harsh profile that the lugs create on the rest of the frame. All these parts are joined together using a high strength bonding agent which is then cured in a steel jig to enable perfect alignment.

While of course all the above is very important we all know that looking good is just as important and while some Colnagos have had some dodgy paint jobs in the past our test bike here certainly didn’t. Hand painted in the factory by the same guys that spray the pro BBox-Bouygues Telecom team bikes (Google Thomas Voeckler’s C59 French national champion paint job) among others the finish is a work of art. Each paint layer is cured in the oven before the next is applied, even the decals are painted using laser cut maskings. Full internal cable routing keep the frame looking clean and there is a flat section at the bottom bracket area ready for a Di2 battery if you go down that route.

Sold as a frame and fork package, equipment choice for your C59 is going to be up to you to decide what to hang from it. Ours came with a full 11 spd Campag Record groupset excluding the chainset. This is the first time I’ve ridden Campag's newer style lever hood and I must admit that so far I prefer the older version - maybe they'll grow on me, that aside the shifters and mechs worked faultlessly over the test period.

FSA supply the K-Force Light chainset along with matching handlebars and stem and even the brake callipers. The hollow cranks felt stiff and the chain shifted cleanly between the 50/34T rings even under load. The brakes worked just as well as anything from Shimano or Campag even on the carbon rims with plenty of modulation once the heat has built up which was no doubt helped by the yellow Swisstop pads. The bars and stem showed no flex whatsoever even during out of the saddle scooter chasing efforts, which is quite impressive considering the light weight.

In a nutshell everything our frame came built up with is all good quality kit and compliments the frame and fork in both performance and looks. SManie provide the saddle and bar tape. A company I’ve personally never come across, the saddle was very comfortable, to be fair I never paid much attention to it which I suppose is the sign of a good seat. The handlebar tape had a velvety style finish which looked good and was and should prove durable. FSA also provided the wheels with their 50mm deep Visionmax carbon rims, reasonably lightweight at around 1400g. There was a bit of flex under load but on the flat the aero advantage could be felt and they do make a lovely noise as they cut through the air.


By the time you’ve finished choosing parts that are going to reflect the quality of the frameset you’re going to be looking at a figure around the £6k mark and that is a serious amount of cash to be throwing at a bike. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes, no matter how good you are it will flatter your riding style and just the feel good factor of riding it is a big boost. Comparing the ride to the Lapierre Xelius 900 tested by roadcc last year things are very similar, bearing in mind this was only £4600 for the complete bike using a similar spec build it goes to show that at this pro level point spending a lot more money doesn’t necessarily give a huge performance benefit.

The hand made in Italy moniker is always going to add a premium and as described above, the amount of work that goes into each frameset is time consuming. Top end Colnago’s never seem to date either, C40’s and C50’s still command high prices on the second hand market and this is what it’s all about, buying a bike for its style, its tradition, not just how it rides. With so many bikes coming now from the same factories with just different company logos to tell them apart the C59 is something a bit special. If you’ve got the cash and you’ve got to have one, whether for racing, sportives or just a potter round the lanes, go for it, you won’t regret it.

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Make and model: Colnago C59

Size tested: Red and White

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Lugged carbon fibre construction. hand built tubes and lugs laid up in Colnago's factory

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

the C59 is a pro level machine taking Thomas Voeckler to his national road title. It certainly performs and goes some way to justify its price tag

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

the lugged construction is tried and tested and should give no issues. the paint finish is flawless

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

carbon fibre tubes and lugs laid up using multi and uni- directional fibre sheets

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Size Pccs Ps P Os O SCº Scs C A Hs


42s 395 420 510 495 510 75.49º 99 397 580 120

45s 425 450 515 505 519 75.14º 108 399 582 123

48s 455 480 520 520 530 74.58º 121 402 584 125

50s 475 500 540 528 540 74.00º 131 405 589 143

52s 495 520 560 538 550 73.57º 141 407 593 161

54s 515 540 580 550 565 72.83º 151 409 596 177

56s 525 560 600 568 580 72.75º 156 412 606 185

58s 540 580 620 578 590 72.75º 160 413 614 202

52 500 520 530 74.50º 133 401 587 125

53 510 530 535 74.00º 140 402 587 133

54 520 540 540 74.00º 143 402 591 143

55 530 550 545 74.00º 146 402 592 152

56 540 560 550 73.50º 153 405 593 161

57 550 570 557 73.00º 161 406 594 169

58 560 580 565 72.86º 165 407 596 177

59 570 590 572 72.75º 169 408 597 185

60 570 600 580 72.75º 169 409 602 185

61 580 610 586 72.75º 172 409 606 195

62 585 620 590 72.75º 173 410 609 202

63 590 630 594 72.75º 175 411 611 207

64 595 640 597 72.75º 176 412 613 217

65 605 650 600 72.75º 179 413 615 227

Scroll up

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

good fit top tube and seatube were as expected for the size tested

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable, no road buzz through the frame meant you could ride all day without feeling battered

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

very stiff, no loss of power transfer anywhere

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

as above, none wasted at all

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?


How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? it seemed to respond to the speed, very easy to control

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

sure footed,

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

n/a - frame and fork

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

n/a - frame and fork

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

n/a - frame and fork

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
Rate the bike for acceleration:
Rate the bike for sprinting:
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
Rate the bike for climbing:

The drivetrain

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

n/a - frame and fork

Wheels and tyres

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

n/a - frame and fork


n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

n/a - frame and fork

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

n/a - frame and fork

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

n/a - frame and fork

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes

Would you consider buying the bike? a lot of competition out there but if I had the cash it would be on the list

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
Rate the bike overall for value:

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

If this review didn't take into account the price it would probably get a 10. As a technical exercise this bike is unbelievable but in the real world the cost is going to be the main stumbling block.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting  My best bike is: Schwinn Fastback Pro

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment


ulty | 13 years ago

great thanks! looks like my size in that case.

Tony Farrelly | 13 years ago

Hi ulty,

It's a 54cm and centre of bb to top of saddle is 75.5cm, stem is a 110, bars and seatpost layback are as they are in the pics - there's a close up of the saddle clamp in the gallery. Tip of saddle to centre of stem clamp is 55cm dead.

ulty | 13 years ago

Hi, what size did you test (just says 'red and white')? What is your saddle height, set back, tip of saddle-bars, etc? Just trying to get a feel of fitting as I'm the same height/weight.


C59Rider | 13 years ago

The C59 does have a tapered headtube 1 1/8th top, 1 1/4 bottom. It C59 uses the same C-HS1 system as the EPS and M10.

adscrim | 13 years ago

Yes please - this is this weeks schwag right?

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