Colnago CLX Carbon - Road Cycling UK

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Colnago CLX Carbon


Colnago’s response to the Far East

Aero seatpost specific to CLX

Ultegra model gets all-carbon CLX fork

Saddle failed to please reviewer

Foglio chainstays add visual class

Unmistakeably Colnago

Colnago CLX Carbon £2,699.95 (DuraAce – £3,499.95, 105 – £2,199.95)

The Italians, once dominant in the exotic race bike market, are under threat. With global brands such as Specialized, Trek and Giant amongst others arriving on the scene the rules of the game have changed. Increased volume of production and cheaper labour costs in the Far East have forced down prices, particularly in the mid-range performance bike sector. A regrouping has been needed. None of the household name Italian brands can compete with this influx of Asian sourced steel, aluminium and of course ubiquitous carbon fibre so their hands have been forced.

Colnago, perhaps the last bastion of all that is ‘Italian’, has also now succumbed, but, and it is a big but, all is not lost. Following on from the introduction in 2006 of the Arte and Primavera, models that were conceived on the drawing boards of Cambiago, the home of Colnago, yet born in Taiwan, for 2007 we now have the CLX.

The monocoque front triangle has smooth flowing lines and features slight indentations along the length of the top and down tubes. This is a nod to the “Stellare” or star shaped tubes found on several other models in Colnago’s range, which in this particular case, one suspects is as much for styling as function. A modular rear end finishes things off and helps to keep costs in check. As a result of this construction method however fewer sizes are available than with traditional Colnago product. The bowed seatstay design previously seen on the home grown, higher specification Christallo can be found here. Colnago’s new ‘Foglia’ or leaf-shape chainstay is also present so the CLX does share some of the features of its more exclusive, read expensive, brethren.

The CLX is available in two ready-to-ride options; here we shall concern ourselves with the more expensive Shimano Ultegra equipped version. This bike would be equally at home on a Granfondo in Italy or a road race in the Surrey lanes. Supplied with a quality finishing kit, some nice looking FSA Carbon wrap handlebars and a stem to match, these are complemented at the rear by a custom carbon fibre seat post which has a tear drop section specific to this frame. No option of an alternative there then! Sitting aboard the seat pin’s twin bolt clamp is a Prologo saddle. This racy looking seat looks rather unforgiving and features a gimmicky, interchangeable top cover. Early days yet but I suspect this will be one of few bits on the bike that gets changed for something more familiar. With an intrusive press stud, bang in the middle of this saddle under its hard unforgiving upper, I am not quite sure what the guys at Prologo were thinking when they designed it or Colnago when they selected it for that matter!

A pair of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels shod with Maxxis tyres are provided as standard and whilst again an area that may well be worth upgrading later they make a good starting point combining a reasonable compromise between comfort and straight out performance. A pair of black Fulcrum Racing 5 Evos might have looked a bit more at home though and maintained more of an Italian feel…
An all too familiar deviation from the Shimano groupset can be found when we get to the chainset with a less satisfactory carbon and alloy mixed offering taking place of the excellent Ultegra version. Many manufacturers insist on fitting what looks like a flashier and hence eye catching product here but in reality a stock Shimano part would be as good if not better…

It should be pointed out that are more than just groupset deviations between the different CLX models, otherwise the price hikes would seem somewhat unreasonable. For example, The CLX fork on the 105 spec bike has an alloy steerer and a simplified profile. This bike also features a FSA branded alloy chainset. The Ultegra spec. model for its extra £500 includes a much nicer (CLX) fork with carbon steerer and a more elaborate profile which contribute to an improvement in ride quality. Add to this the fact that the Ultegra equipped CLX bike features a FSA Carbon crank offering which goes some way towards explaining the higher price point.

Without seeing a Dura-Ace equipped model we cannot confirm exactly the differences here. Possibly the chainset will be sourced from further up FSA’s heirarchy chainset and maybe there will be a wheel upgrade too…

The single most important aspect when choosing a bike of any kind is to get your position sorted and ensure that the proposed purchase will fit correctly. No good falling in love with the paint work and finding the top tube is 2cm too long for you. My main reservation with most of the ‘bike in a box’ offerings on the market is a pre-cut steerer. Find yourself needing an extra 10mm and you will be disappointed. I am aware that in many cases this is done to avoid some ridiculous and dangerous positions being used, but really, are we to believe that a safe reliable steerer will only allow 20mm or so of stack height? Certain other brands I could name, particularly a certain Basque outfit, allow their dealers to police any decisions in this area. Shame Colnago does not do the same.

Summing up, this bike will appeal to someone looking to stand out from the crowd, a crowd currently running round on brands we have previously mentioned. The CLX will not necessarily appeal to the traditional Colnago customer, who I feel, will still be more interested in their higher end product. However, it is a well made, attractive bike which has impeccable road manners and obviously is the outcome of some serious hand wringing back in Cambiago. Colnago has a well earned and enviable reputation. The CLX will do this no harm, no harm at all…

  • Sizes available: 45cm to 59cm
  • Geometry: Sloping
  • Colours: Red, Black, Blue
  • Monocoque front triangle and rear stay assembled using Colnago’s lug system
  • Designed and developed in Italy, made in Taiwan
  • All new front end design with variable wall thickness
  • Curved ‘wishbone’ seat-stays
  • Aerodynamic carbon seat post
  • www.colnago.com

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