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Colnago Unveils its Vision of Gravel Racing with the Italian Crafted C68 Gravel

The iconic Italian bicycle manufacturer demonstrates its commitment to the gravel arts by elevating its new gravel bike to 'C' status.

Colnago C68 Grave Full bike
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Colnago knows a thing or two about drop-bar off-road bikes, even though most think of them as a road-only brand….thanks Pogačar.

Let’s not forget that legends like Sven Nys and Niels Albert rode the Colnago Prestige — the same with a very young Wout Van Aert. The Prestige would eventually fade out of the Colnago line. The World Cup and World Title winning machine was replaced with the gravel/cyclocross-focused Colnago G-3X.

The G-3X is more of a gravel bike than a pure ‘cross-machine, but it does have that iconic Colnago kick and more tire clearance than the Prestige ever had.

In recent years, though, Colnago has put effort into re-thinking their business’s gravel side. Adding to it, they have created something pure Colnago. A performance-focused gravel bike. One that looks at home on the white roads of Tuscany or on twisty American single track (more on that later). Plus, it’s handmade in Italy.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV call out
The only ‘C68’ call out on the new Colnago C68 Gravel (Photo: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

What is the Colnago C Series

The C series is a moniker for the top tier of Colnago bikes; the more attainable version for most is the ‘V’ series. The C68 bikes are handmade in Italy and aim to balance beauty and performance. The Colnago C68 Series of bikes boasts a Road, All-Road, Titanium Custom, and now a Gravel bike.

Colnago C68 Grave tops
(Photo credit: Colnago)

Colnago describes the C Series as: “C for Carbon, Colnago, Cambiago (where the bikes are made), and Class. The 68 represents how far Colnago has come since its founding in 1954.”

Colnago C68 Gravel Ride
(Photo credit: Colnago)

Colnago C68 Gravel Frame Details

There’s much to unpack here, so let’s start with the frame creation. First, the Colnago C68 is 100% hand-made from high-modulus carbon fiber. Some parts are lugged, making it also a modular frame.

What does Colnago mean by ‘modular’?

The C68 Gravel is comprised of six separate carbon pieces. The engineers designed the headtube/downtube and top tube junction to be maneuverable when building the frame. The tubes are lugged and modular, as the builder can move them slightly, augmenting the stack slightly, the same as the headtube height.

This method is only used on the C series frames, though Colnago has used lugged carbon construction since the 1980s. The lugged tubes give the C68 Gravel a unique look, and the matte green pearl paint (similar to the Aston Martin) accentuates the curves.

How much does it weigh?

The frameset’s claimed weight is 1,150g for a 480s (roughly 54 cm) C68 Gravel frameset. The weight includes everything (framewise), including the rear derailleur hanger and seatpost wedge. The uncut painted fork is an additional 480g; add that to the overall weight, and the total weight is around 1,630g.

Yes to Top Tube Bag But No Third Bottle

As for modern gravel bits, the C68 has a top tube bag mount and can fit two large bottles (think 38oz) in the frame. There is no third bottle mount under the frame, so if you’re planning a super long, unsupported ride, you’ll need to plan accordingly.

The tube shaping in the C68 Gravel is designed for power transfer, minimizing road chatter, and handling a flying rock to the down tube without cracking.

The frame uses a D-shaped seatpost similar to the one on the G-3X but with an updated tightening mechanism.

The bottom bracket is a T47, the same as the C68 All Road.

The frame is optimized for a fully electronic groupset but can run a mechanical 1X like the new Shimano GRX 12-speed. The placeholder for a front derailleur is a neat 3D-printed cover, which takes nothing away in performance but adds cool points.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV 3d printed chain guard
Same with the chain guard (Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

The chain guard is also 3D-printed and pictures the mountains of Italy.

Colnago C68 Gravel bar

Colnago Gravel Geometry

Though the C68 shares some features of the Prestige, All Road, and G-3X, it has a unique geometry. It has a shorter reach and higher stack than the C68 Road. The updated reach-stack ratio allows for a shorter stem, giving the bike a lively feel on the trails and lots of control over the front end.

Colnago C68 Gravel Geo

C68 Gravel will be available in 5 sizes, all in sloping configuration: 450 (52cm), 480 (54cm), 510 (58cm), 540 (60cm), and 570 (63cm)

Colnago feels this setup offers better handling for challenging gravel or trail features without sacrificing an aggressive setup. I agree after spending some hours on the bike.

The Colnago CC.01 wide bar/stem combo riffs off the new C68 gravel geometery. The new Wide version of the CC.01 is specifically designed for gravel. The Colnago CC.01 Wide has more flare than the road version of the Colnago CC.01. The reach is 72.50 mm and a drop of 120mm with a stem angle of 82 degrees.

The Colnago CC.01 Wide is available in five different stem combinations with the same 40 hood and 46 wide at the drop: 80mm – 40/46, 90mm – 40/46, 100mm – 40/46, 110mm – 40/46, and 120mm – 40/46. The C68 Gravel complete bike arrives with the Colnago CC.01 Wide cockpit but is compatible with a traditional bar/stem combination.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV bottom bracket
The tube shapes are sharper at the edge, closer to the look of the Colnago C68 road machine.(Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

How about tire clearance?

When I asked about tire clearance, the Colnago team calmly stated, “Up to 42mm but it performs best with the 40s”. Why not 50mm or something more extensive like the trend? The team told me, “This isn’t that kind of gravel bike.” The C68 is a fast bike designed around a more aggressive riding style, leaning more toward the gravel-road/racing side.

It’s the same reason you’ll find no internal storage on the C68 Gravel. The team didn’t want to compromise on the bike’s silhouette or the tubes’ integrity. I admire the choice not to follow the trends and to keep the design focused on speed, handling, and beauty.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV bb non drive
Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

Now, the team says 42mm is the max, but that is the maximum for the rear tire. If you want to push the limits, you can get a larger tire in the front. But the fork is more sculpted than some, and you could run into mud clearance issues if you run bigger. The frame can fit gravel suspension forks if you’d like…but like the super wide tires and internal storage box — that might not be this kind of bike.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV full bike
Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

Colnago C68 Gravel Builds and Paint Options

Currently, the C68 will come available as a frame and fork or in three different build options. The builds range from SRAM Red XPLR, Force XPLR, and Shimano GRX 822 mechanical.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV bar rider view
The riders eye view of the Colnago CC.01 bar Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

All bikes will come equipped with Colnago CC.01 Wide integrated handlebar, Selle Italia Regal Short Open Fit CRB (Carbon) saddle, and Pirelli Cinturato Gravel TLR 40mm.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV black paint
Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

The wheels for each model change slightly, with the SRAM Red arriving with Zipp 303S carbon wheels, Force with Fulcrum Rapid Red 500, and the Shimano GRX with Fulcrum 900.

Colnago C68 Gravel JV seatpost joint
Bonded, lugged carbon with a seamless appearance Photos: Jordan Villella/Bikerumor)

Paint-wise, the new Colnago C68 Gravel will be available in Green Pearl (in most photos) or gloss black with red undertones in the sun. Having seen the paint up close, both are great options (I’m a glossy fan), but the Green Pearl should hide the scratches and abuse of gravel riding better.

Colnago C68 Grave NFC
(Photo: Colnago)

Colnago NFC Tag

Like other Colnago bikes, the new C68 will have a near-field communication or (NFC) tag. The tag is linked to the MyLime Polygon Blockchain and is inextricably linked to the bicycle. 

How does this help the rider? If your bike gets stolen, you can use the NFC as proof of ownership. The NFC also helps with re-sale and helps prevent (or disrupt) counterfeit Colnago bikes from entering the market. For more info, check out Colnago’s explanation of why they chose to be the first bicycle company to adopt Blockchain here.

Colnago C68 Grave Full bike
(Photo: Colnago)

Colnago C68 Gravel Pricing

  • Frameset only $7,100.00, €5,935, £5,269.00 *Includes frame, fork, Colnago CC.01 bars and seatpost.
  • SRAM Red XPLR, ZIPP 303S Wheels, $13,199.95, €12,010.00, £11,099.99.99
  • SRAM Force XPLR, Fulcrum Rapid Red 500, $9,599.95, €8,690.00, £8,099.95
  • Shimano GRX 822 1X, Fulcrum Rapid Red 900, $7995.95, €7250.00, £6,899.95

Look for a ride review shortly, and for more information and availability near you, check out; Colnago.com

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24 Comments
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Mike
Mike
20 days ago

I’m probably speaking only for myself here, but the appeal of Colnago was always their classic looks, paint, and logos. This looks like it came out of a Giant mold. The Prestige had soul, this new bike looks empty. (Guess I’m officially a retro-grouch now)

tertius_decimus
tertius_decimus
20 days ago

1980 Colnago Super owner here. Meh. Whatever Colnago had, they lost it.

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden
19 days ago

Could say that about any brand who made elegant steel frames and forks back then and now make $4k+ carbon bikes? Gilco tubing was probably an affront to traditionalists back in the late 80s. I’m with you though, those 80s Colnagos were beautiful.

nooner
nooner
20 days ago

I guess Ernest missed the dropped seatstay for compliance memo? Is this another one of those DEI 1x only rigs? Some people need to go fast, it’s in their DNA.

SomeGuy
SomeGuy
19 days ago
Reply to  nooner

You don’t make seat stays more compliant by making them shorter. That’s not how physics works.

benito
benito
18 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

dropping the stays allows for some seat tube compliance

nooner
nooner
18 days ago
Reply to  benito

Yep, that is correct benito. As we all remember from, ahem, physics law of the lever, when the seatstays are dropped this creates a lower fulcrum point which increases leverage thus more compliance in the fore aft plane when the mass is seated. Combine this with a D-shaped seatpost (which this C68 also has) like the Giant Revolt, and you have one very comfortable riding bike. Hey, Ben Delaney just dropped this excellent review of this bike that BR readers may like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flwFIiGmDhI Cheers.

dirk
dirk
20 days ago

A $7,100 frameset and $7,995 in its cheapest build, but not a single word about its weight? And there’s no 56cm?

SomeGuy
SomeGuy
19 days ago
Reply to  dirk

Weight is around 1150g, depending on the sizing – which is a bit odd to begin with. If you normally ride a 56cm from most brands, you’d ride the 510 for a similar stack and reach.

Gerald
Gerald
20 days ago

A made in Italy frame-set. Check
No Campagnolo group-set option. Not interested.
I’d rather go with a made in Slovakia and soon to be the USA Time ADHX and their Campagnolo option.

Il_Dottore
Il_Dottore
19 days ago

$7k+ for a ‘lugged’ carbon frame, lol, seriously?! … that construction method was first used in the mid eighties in frames (carbon tubes glued to alloy lugs) and they were death traps waiting to happen once the adhesive in the joints began to fail, and therefore this design was dropped by the industry soon after. Gluing structural members together is a really dumb idea,… hello? Shimano Hollowtech anyone?

Robin
Robin
19 days ago
Reply to  Il_Dottore

You are aware, aren’t you, that many modern CF frames are actually bonded together with epoxy, right?

Il_Dottore
Il_Dottore
18 days ago
Reply to  Robin

Such a poor attempt at a riposte only exposes a profound ignorance of the differences between the CF monocoque method which is the current largely accepted construction standard (except in the case of Colnago’s C68) for safety and durability reasons, and the glued lug method of construction which was very quickly dumped by the industry once the inherent flaws and failings of the method became obvious over 30 years ago, and the safety risks to riders experiencing failures raised the spectre of legal action from affected frame owners.

The only reason Colnago are now using carbon lugged sections and gluing the sections together is because they are a lazy and cheap manufacturer, and they are aware that there is an endless supply of ignorant customers who have no clue as to the well documented flaws of the glued-lug construction method. The mere mention of the name ‘Colnago’ seems to trigger a hypnotic adorative trance in some people, so much so that they are willing to part with huge sums of money for cheaply made, overpriced, and poorly designed product, just so long as it bears the name ‘Colnago’,… it is customers who are obsessed with a romantic notion of storied cycling brands that is nowadays taken advantage of by some manufacturers, who cleverly utilise the buyers with a fever dream for a Colnago to the company’s advantage to fatten the corporate bank balance, in this case it’s Ernesto and his newly enjoined (in May of 2023) venture capitalist buddies based in Abu Dhabi (Chimera Investments LLC).

Robin
Robin
18 days ago
Reply to  Il_Dottore

You didn’t read carefully. There’s no real difference between what’s done now with epoxy cementing frame parts together. What is different is the epoxies. Seriously, do you actually think this process is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago? Do you actually think there have been zero advances in epoxies? That you’re stuck on the lug thing means you’ve completely lost the plot: in both cases, there is a tube being cemented in a hole with epoxy.

K.M.
K.M.
15 days ago
Reply to  Il_Dottore

Tell me, do you see yourself with a cape and sword in hand while you are writing your comments? I mean, since you actually believe a company bases its business model on “endless supply of ignorant customers” and ethos as “lazy” and “cheap”, surely you must also believe in yourself as a caped crusader? Both are as likely to be true, yet I think of them as false. And rather that Colnago knows how to eliminate/mitigate the potential problems in lugged constructions for its flagship bikes, and thus e.g help make bikes that differentiate them from their monoque frame making competitors and take into account the brand’s own heritage. And that you are at least as much stuck in romantic fantasies as Colnago’s customers. I choose my reality over yours.

Il_Dottore
Il_Dottore
18 days ago
Reply to  Robin

I am fully aware of the advances over the last 30+ years in glues (includes resins) used in bonded lug construction of CF materials, whether they be for bicycle frames or the myriad of other uses to which they are put, and whether the materials used in the lugs are carbon fibre or any other material, Al alloys included for that matter.

The fact still remains that a bonded-lugged construction method creates in an inherent weakness which is due the nature of bonded joints, and which is a well understood and documented engineering phenomenon. A properly designed and fabricated monocoque construction is superior, and the reason almost every other manufacturer doesn’t use lugged joints (regardless of the lug material) for carbon fibre frames, or in high-stress component applications bicycle related or otherwise.

TheKaiser
15 days ago
Reply to  Il_Dottore

I don’t disagree with you about the theoretical advantages of monocoque vs lugged construction, however my understanding is that very few current bikes are actually constructed as a full monocoque. Even the “monocoque” bikes are usually a modular monocoque, where the front and rear triangles are separate pieces, which are then bonded together, via the same bonding process which you malign. Many frames have even more sub assemblies, for example the BB area and Head Tube area being separate “monocoque” pieces bonded together, so you can easily have a half dozen bonded interfaces on the bikes which many people assume are a true 1 piece “monocoque”. I think 1 piece monocoque was a more common strategy 20yrd ago but has fallen out of favor due to the difficulties obtaining consistent compaction in a mass manufacturing environment, thus the shift to the hybrid “modular monocoque” strategy, which doesn’t alleviate your concerns about failed joints. BTW, you seem to know a fair bit about epoxy, so I’m curious as to your thoughts on the epoxy used in the prepreg itself. If epoxy joints are a problem long term, are you at all concerned about the resin in the CFRP itself breaking down, leading to delamination?

SteveT
SteveT
19 days ago

$7,100 for a stock cookie cutter non-custom frameset. ROTFLMFAO Only a true sucker would fall for that nonsense. 🙂

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden
19 days ago
Reply to  SteveT

Yet the best-fitting, best-handling road bike I’ve owned, among a few custom builds, was a stock geometry Colnago.

SomeGuy
SomeGuy
19 days ago
Reply to  Iron Maiden

Yeah, but normally a frame at this price level comes in like a dozen sizes and three of them might fit you. This thing comes in 5 sizes. Five. The word painted on the side won’t make up for that.

Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden
18 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

Just saying a stock bike can be great. If you buy a stock size that isn’t right for you that’s different, and you’re that right 5 sizes isn’t Colnago’s usual style.

Ben
Ben
18 days ago

It’s a huge miss not to offer this in one of their classic paint schemes and/or a custom paint option at this pricepoint. Similarly, just make the clearance 45mm. That tiny 0.1w loss in drag isn’t going to impact Dr. Dentist’s ability to get a Strava segment PR.

mud
mud
17 days ago

Some things in the copy I question. You say 1150 grams for the “frameset.” Then “480 grams of the overall weight is attributed to the fork.” Pretty sure the 1150 is for the frame alone.

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