Buyer’s Guide 2017: Colnago Concept
Is it masochistic to wish for a windy day when testing an aero bike? It seems so easy to break these down in the wind and point out all the faults immediately. Colnago’s Concept gave me a bit of trouble in that regard, because it performed exceptionally well in the…
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Is it masochistic to wish for a windy day when testing an aero bike? It seems so easy to break these down in the wind and point out all the faults immediately. Colnago’s Concept gave me a bit of trouble in that regard, because it performed exceptionally well in the Colorado winter winds. We had an unseasonably warm day (early season warmth comes hand in hand with winds), and the Concept seemed to sense it: In everything except blunt crosswinds, the Concept was so stable I had to keep looking down to confirm I was on an aero bike.
Colnago’s brand is storied, and romantic. Each new bike has to be exceptional and gorgeous. Colnago’s got plenty of experience with both of those categories; aero bikes, on the other hand, have a history of gaudiness and trade-offs. Colnago has created a balanced ride, though, and the murdered-out paint scheme on our test bike literally turned heads when we made a pit stop at the local bike shop. That’s rare enough. But the Concept’s not just eye candy. It offers much of the go-forward speed we expect from the aero category, but it has some secrets, notably its superb handling.
Even our favorite aero bikes take muscling in the corners, generally due to a healthy bottom bracket drop and a head tube angle that usually errs on the side of slack when compared to all-around bikes. At 71.9 degrees, the Concept’s head tube angle certainly tips toward the slack end, yet it’s steep enough that the bike felt relatively flickable. Handling was so intuitive and lithe we could imagine toeing the line of a crit with the Concept. (We wouldn’t because of that price tag.) It even climbs better than an aero bike should. Perhaps that’s because the Concept shares some similar geometry figures with Colnago’s venerable C60.
Another surprise: While the Concept definitely has some of that unyielding stiffness common among aero bikes comprised almost exclusively of truncated airfoils, it’s shockingly compliant. Colnago achieved this by focusing on the front end: The steerer tube flexes slightly to help reduce road vibration. It works exceptionally well, and while the Concept will never be accused of comfort-bike status, it at least shirks off typical aero harshness.
Unfortunately we can’t speak to the Concept’s aerodynamic benefits without sending it to an independent wind tunnel. But it doesn’t appear Colnago is attempting to break new aero ground here, sticking with tried-and-true tube shapes and features, including lowered seat stays that reduce drag.
Like most Colnago bikes, the Concept is available as a frameset only for a cool $4,599. (The disc-ready version will run you $4,799.) We tested it with a full Campagnolo Super Record group and Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50 wheels. Our build probably cost somewhere upwards of $10,000. You could build it up for less than that, but why would you buy a frame of this caliber and not dress it in the best?