Colnago M10 Mini-Test
My critical attitude to carbon bicycle frames is often over-stated. My position is quite simple - I don't like a bike just because it is made out of carbon. Just like I don't like all wines because they are made from a Cabernet Sauvignon variety of grapes. Carbon is just one ingredient in a whole bicycle. In fact to be a pedant carbon itself is a composite of an aramid weave and an epoxy matrix. But I digress.
Cyclefit has a policy of generally avoiding frames that have originated in the far-east. For many reasons. Some of them ethical some of them emotional and I am sure most of them mis-placed. But there we are - we all have to stand for something don't we?
This puts us slightly at odds with Colnago and the importer who are moving evermore towards the brand being made by Giant in Taiwan.
So an M10 test-bike arrived for us to rigorously evaluate courtesy of our kind importer. To ensure objectivity I swapped wheels to my own default setting - Campagnolo Neutron Ultra's with Continental GP4000's.
The M10 is a critical frame for Colnago. Notionally at least it shares range-topping status with the exquisite C59. Even though they are made on different continents using totally different construction methods. The C59 use lugs and tubes bonded together, whilst the M10 is a monocoque where the external structure you see is load-bearing and moulded in one piece. Both build methods have their advantages that I will resist being red-herringed into.
I have now ridden the M10 for a couple of hundred miles. Enough to have an opinion.
And it is this:
An almost 50 year old man can have some good times with an M10 but ultimately it is a fling that will go nowhere and one party will inevitably get hurt. A mid summer affair rather than a long-term committed relationship if you will.
Why? Because we don't suit each other. I would prefer not go around with 'Structural Routing' and other loud graphical proclaimings all over my bike in the same way that i don't wear my jeans halfway around my arse or wake up face-down in mud at Glastonbury.
So what of the good times? The geometry is good and Matt (apprentice Cyclefitter) was able to get my position form my Serotta pretty much perfect. And on the days I felt good the bike felt great. Responsive, fun, fast and actually quite comfortable. Also the tight race-bred geometry encourages extreme lean-angles and fast direction changes if you have the appropriate disposition and skill-set.
All is superb unless I hit a pot-hole, cobbles on Neal Street or anything else sight unseen (I generally ride without my spectacles). At which time the M10 would clatter me enough to jolt the FSA seatpost clamp and move the saddle tip-up and/or make me grunt in a way men of my age are prone to when we load the dish-washer or lift bags of fertiliser in the garden.
Just how much stiffness do we need anyway? I remember the great debate in Moto GP's in the 80's and 90's. The aluminium beam frame was newly developed and all the manufactures were drunk on the possibility of out-stiffing the competition on the track and therefore the show-room floor. Until riders like Kevin Schwantz worked out that stiffness had to be balanced with notions of control and hence finesse. Sound familiar? Now road and track motor-bikes have some flex built into their swingarms (bicycle equivalent of chainstays) and frames.
And so the M10 is a particularly fine exponent of where we are in contemporary bicycle design - it is monumentally stiff - especially astern of the BB. I kept getting caught unawares by lumps and bumps that by rights I should be free to ignore.
On a smooth track or alpine climb none of this will matter. On British roads and an enlarged prostate it does. Too much detail?
Remember that some of Europcar were using standard M10 frames in the Tour de France - Pierre Rolland rode one throughout the whole event!
This is a serious race frame and probably not aimed at the likes of me anymore. You should draw your own conclusion by organising your own road-test.
Postscript 9.8.11 - This comment from John from the UK importers:
"Though please note, the stupid "structural routing" words have gone for 2012, thanks to our whinging during 2011"
RRP: £2799 Frame and Fork
Weight - 7.62kg as tested inc. pedals.
This bike is here at Cyclefit for a few weeks and is available to road-test yourself?