Its 8 am and there is a sharp knock at my front door. When I open the door, my eyes are greeted with a Colnago bike box perched on my door step with the delivery guy saying, “sign here”. The Colnago M10 has landed!
The Colnago M10 has been a frame I have very much wanted to test ride for sometime now. I have always been a Colnago lugs and tubes fan from Italy, so it was refreshing to be offered a test ride of this new full monocoque frame design. This particular M10 was fully equipped with the very latest components from FSA. As a brand, I feel FSA have come on leaps and bounds. Their SLK range of handlebars, stems and seat posts are very sleek in design with their eye catching carbon marble effect, which combines to be a great package. As we all know, wheels make a bike, so I was interested to see that this particular demo bike came with the FSA full carbon 50mm deep section tubular RD 488 wheel-set. They have a reported weight of 1550g. The groupset is an intresting mix of Campagnolo Record and an FSA crankset. The tyres are the continental Competition which are rock sold and just what you need when you don’t have a team support vehicle on hand!
Behind the scene of the Colnago M10. Having recently returned from Cambiago, I had a long conversation with Ernesto about this frame. I was intrigued to know more about this full monocouque design. Anyone who has had the pleasure in meeting Ernesto will soon realises that he is a perfectionist in all things. He demands the highest quality materials, combined with the highest quality design and specifications. He stated that it takes approximately four years from the birth of the idea on the designers computer to the full production of the tangible frame. That’s quite a period of time, but an absolute necessity. The M10 is fully constructed in Taiwan using a special Colnago facility for the manufacturing of these frames. They also use the expensive stainless steel monocoque molds for frame production. Also, this allows Colnago to know exactly who built the frame which is pretty unique in this day and age. Colnago are fully committed to this operation and have even established an office out in Taiwan. All the carbon fibre used to make the M10 is sourced from Toray Carbon who are one of the world leaders in carbon fibre production and technology.
Once the frames have been made and rigorously inspected, they are then shipped back to Cambiago for another inspection by the team in Italy. Then and only then, are they prepared for the Paint-shop which is based in Florence, Italy. Having seen these frames in the flesh and raw form in Italy, it was extremely interesting to see at first hand the inspection process. Once the frames have been painted, they are again inspected and then sent out to Colnago customers and distributors world-wide!
If we think about it, the M10 is a natural evolution from the CX-1, which had monocouque front triangle, with a lugged rear end. However, Ernesto wanted to produce a high end full monocouque frame. The frame itself flows very nicely, the geometry is very pleasing on the eye. The headtube is pleasantly tapered and works very well. The M10 is indeed quite a robust looking frame, but its also the lightest carbon frame in the range. You can’t help but notice the impressive over sized bottom bracket which is designed for stiffness and offers the rider maximum power and out-put at the back wheel. OK, working with lugs and tubes can offer a beautifully sculptured bottom bracket, however you can understand the designer thought process behind these O/S bottom brackets which work extremely well. Also, with lugs and tubes, it does allow the builder to offer a broader range of frame sizes, however, this really isn’t a particular issue as quite a lot of manufactures only offer the monocouque design. Just cast your eye over the frame design and the way the tubes are finely crafted, it becomes apparent that this frame is built with pure performance in mind. The Q2 stays are very similar to those used on the C59 which offers stiffens with the end goal of performance. The chainstays look impressive with their very masculine design and the way they are neatly joined at the BB. I must confess, I really do miss the bay-leaf chanistays of the EPS, I just love that feminine beauty, but again, you can see that they are purely designed for power output on the M10. The forks continue with the Colnago ‘straight fork’ design which works extremely well when putting the bike under pressure on a hard decent. You need dependable forks which won’t let the rider down or offer any kind of nervous feeling. Now, after assessing tube by tube, just take a step back for a moment. Then look again at the complete frame. It all starts to make sense and this frame really becomes a beautifully designed and constructed piece of road cycling engineering. For the internal cable routing fans, Colnago have produced a very clean and uncluttered frame. Again, its a natural progression in frame design. The M10 is as refined inside as the finish on the outside. Especially, with there unique internal cable routing system. They have even used specially adapted entry and exit cable points on the frame.
Paint and logos. I have got to say, the guys in Florance can certainly work some magic when it comes to using a spray gun. This particular M10 came in an attract pearl white finish with the beautiful carbon weave peaking through the graphics on the frame. However, I would like to take this opportunity to raise a few points. When it comes to logos on a Colnago frame, less is most certainly more. I just cannot see the point in stating the obvious with the wording ‘Structural Routing’ and ‘Monocouque Structure’, its just not needed ! Having worked in Italy, I know that when you formulate an idea in Italian, it may not always translate that well into English. I think this is a prime example. However, this is not purely a Colnago issue. Whilst recently visiting an Italian bike show, I noticed a Wilier carbon frame sporting the words ‘ Wind Friendly’ which left me shaking my head. So, to our good friends in Italy….less is more! Enough said.
Lets go for a ride. Obviously before hitting the road, I spent a little time dialling in the bike to my personally specification. Making sure the seat post is at the correct height and the saddle moved to the appropriate position and angel. I always take a measurement from my knee joint using a plumb line, making sure it cleanly goes through the centre of my cleat position for maximum power output. I always do this whilst the bike has been placed on a turbo trainer, makes the job much easier. I just cannot emphasize enough how important bike set up is. Whilst I’m probably preaching to the converted, if you haven’t had a professional bike set up, go and treat yourself, I’m quite confident that you will notice the difference. OK, bike all set up, its time to rock and roll. On my first ride I decided to undertake a course which is approximately 75 miles in distance. Its a mixed bag of terrain, including sweeping roads, hard and long hill climbs and ultra fast descents. Living in Kent (UK) if you hate hills, then you are in big trouble, I would suggest moving! :-). Its also a course which would throw everything at the M10, so it would be good to see just how it handles it. Since the initial ride, I have had the opportunity to put approximately 300 miles on this frame. To be honest, it needs time, you just cannot get a feel for a bike and the way it rides after one session. I always come back to the old dating scenario, you are not going to find out about the girl on the first date, it takes time and intrigue. OK, lets take a closer look. It doesn’t take that long before you begin to realise just how comfortable this frame is. You kind of scratch your head at first because this is a light stiff, racing frame designed for performance. Also looking at the oversized bottom bracket for lateral stiffness, this frame is very deceptive. Folks, its incredibly comfortable, even after longs periods in the saddle covering a whole range of terrain, the bike kept me fresh. The vertical absorption from the road that this frame displays is indeed very good. It seems to really smooth out the road shock and vibration you can experience when riding such a frame. I also experimenting using various tyre pressure, from 7 bar, right up to 10.5 bar so see what the road feel would be like. Of course, running tubs allowed me to increase the tyre pressure quite considerable. Also, people run at various pressures depending on the discipline you are involved in. I have got to say, even at 10.5 bar in the tyres, the ride was incredibly smooth. The whole frame just seems to soak it up. This also in the long term dramatically cuts down the riders fatigue levels.
OK, you might think, because the frame is comfortable, does it slow down on the performance levels? I can safely say no! Give the frame some beans and it will project you forward in quite a nimble way. With every power turn of the crank, you feel the frame project forward, it wants to make progress. Those beefy forks really come into play when you are hammering it down hill. They just inspire confidence in the ride. Even to a certain degree, they flatter your riding style. Hill climbing is very enjoyable on this frame. Personally, I love sitting down on a long hill climb, really works the legs. Again, very comfortable on the climb and doesn’t appear sluggish which some frames can. Out of the saddle on the climb, it will reward with your effort. If you have got the beans in your legs, then it will reply with performance. Do you have to ride this frame at 100 mph everywhere….NO! The nice thing about this frame is that it will be extremely happy keeping an even speed, I don’t get the feeling that I have something to prove to it like the C59. Quite simply folks, its happy to ride at a leisurely pace and its happy to ride on a full on race pace, the choice is yours. Comfort really is the key word when describing this frame, it will appeal to a large and cross section of cyclists, from leisure to full on race pilots. Its really is a cracking all rounder with great looks and appeal. One question it does leave me with, how has Ernesto managed to achieve all these qualities in one frame. Well in truth, I don’t know that answer. I guess that’s what makes him Ernesto Colnago!
I would like to take this opportunity to Sincerely thank Windwave for allowing me to ride this bike. I must say, it was a very sad day when I had to return it! I do hope this write up has been useful, thanks for reading.