March 13, 2019

My new ride… Colnago C64

By In Cycling

After 12 years with my Look 585, I am upgrading to a new bike, the Colnago C64. The Look is still an amazing bike, and I will keep it as my backup and on the trainer in the garage, but I wanted a Disc brake bike for the mountains here in Napa, and have been looking since August last year for my dream bike (as a 50th birthday present). I was quite enamored by the following options:

  • Canyon Endurance – they are becoming very popular and look like great value for money. If the waiting list wasn’t that long, I would probably have bought one in August last year.
  • BMC RoadMachine – Always loved the Swiss BMC bikes, especially the neat cable routing and the legendary performance, and a few of my friends have BMCs and love them. They are expensive, though!

Then, out of the blue, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Luescher Teknik’s youtube channel, where Albert cuts up carbon fiber bikes and comments on the quality of the carbon layups. I was a bit worried after seeing the inside of the BMC frame, and started thinking that perhaps a lugged frame would be more reliable/consistent/robust, because the layups are really only the lugs and they can be very carefully inspected and crafted separately from the pipes, which can obviously also be manufactured separately. These are then glued together. This is very different from laying up the whole frame in one cast, with all the nooks and crannies, and baking it as one piece.

So I decided on the Colnago C64. This lugged frame is still handcrafted in Italy by 5 people (the company is only 38 people!) It may be the one of the last frames built this way, given the shift to mass production in Asia… which is where even the Swiss BMC frames are made (Taiwan). These frames are expensive. Ferrari expensive. So I never really saw myself buying one. But then I found an incredible deal on a 2019 frame, in right size (52s), and bit the bullet and ordered it straight from an Italian online store, with 2-day shipping to the US! There was a day-long hold-up at customs but it cleared pretty quickly and the frame arrived. Here it is:

In perfect timing for my new steed, SRAM just released the new SRAM eTap AXS groupset with a 12-speed cluster and a completely new gear ratio design, and of course electronic shifting, and a power meter in the crank, so that was the natural choice for me. Purists would say that you should install Campagnolo on a Colnago, but I think this combination would be killer.

And I already had a killer wheel set, the Zipp 303 NSW,

Building the bike – Day 1

I ordered the groupset through my local bike shop, Napa River Velo, and the owner (Duke) agreed to have me ‘help’ him build it. More like me hanging around and distracting him while he builds the bike. Although, during the build, there were quite a few times when four hands came in handy.

After the first evening, we managed to get the brake cables routed, the fork cut, stem and spacers installed, BB and cranks, and derailleurs installed.

Building the bike – Day 2

Day 2 and we finished the handlebar and the brakes! We routed the cables through the 3T Ergonova Team bar and then proceeded to bleed them. Tomorrow (hopefully) the missing part will arrive and we can wrap it up! We needed to order a different freehub adapter to allow the AXS cog with the tiny 10-tooth sprocket to fit on my Zipp 303s.

Day 3…

Still waiting for the part. But making great progress…

Getting close!!!

The part finally arrived, and we are 99.9% done, except that the axle caps would not fit into the Zipp Cognition freehub. Arghhh! We tried to manufacture something that would work, and finally gave up after hours of struggling with different combinations. We tried a v1 freehub, which did not fit (even though the wheel is a v1 Zipp NSW wheel. Ordered a v2 freehub (through Fedex and UPS, just to make sure we get one asap). They both arrived pretty much at the same time, and the v2 version of the freehub fit onto the rest of the cognition hub, but they didn’t send us the matching end caps (or mentioned that we would need different ones!). Duke will give Zipp and earful about this.

I just found this on the web, and it looks like this may be what we need:
“These Zipp XDR Axle Caps are perfect for completing the installation of an XDR Freehub Body (sold separately) to your Zipp Cognition Disc Hub with a 12×142 Thru Axle. Once installed, you can enjoy fitting a 12-speed SRAM AXS road cassette to your favourite wheels.”

Day X…

So I am heading out to the Malibu Gran Fondo with my trusty Look 585. I am a little bit sad that we didn’t manage to get the build done in time for the event, but I am sure it will still be a great ride.

Day 11

The part finally arrived, and the bike is done. And what a beauty it is.

On the deck…

And here are some close-ups.

And the final weight?

16.55 pounds

  1. Juan Pablo Henao May 10, 2019

    Hello , First of all your bike looks amazing.. congratulations…

    I want to build mine but rim brake… also Zipp 303 mde , sram axs and I would like to try 3T superergo Team with stem 3T ARX ltd.. I want to ask you about the bar .. is comfortable??



    • cobus May 10, 2019

      I love the bar. It has a bit wider flat part around the corners at the top of the bar which is a great place to rest your hands. Also the internal cable routing works well. The bar has a shorter reach and the drops are slightly wider making it great in the drops too.

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  3. Michael January 21, 2020

    Nice ride! I just received my C64 frame from an Italian bike shop and got hit with a $462 import duty bill! What did you have to pay when importing your frame?

    • cobus January 21, 2020

      Michael, I think you got hit by the new tariffs.  I paid $178 import duty.

      • Tommy October 27, 2020

        Fantastic build! Wold you mind sharing the import duty rate on your frame? I also ordered a complete Colnago (V3Rs) from an online Italian shop. I was told by the seller that the duty will be 11%. Yikes!

        • cobus December 6, 2020

          I imported mine just before the rates went up. Sorry to hear about your 11%. That is quite steep! But still cheaper than buying it locally…

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