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Colnago's C68 is more custom, adds 3D-printed Ti lugs and comes with an NFT

Will Strickson
21 Apr 2022

Latest lugged C-series launched alongside direct-to-consumer sales, 3D and AR configuration, and blockchain tech

Colnago has launched the C68, the latest in its line of premium lugged carbon road bikes handmade in Italy, now more customisable and high-tech than ever.

The historic Italian manufacturer’s C-series is one for the purists – whereas its V-series is reserved for racing – prioritising the wants and needs of those who just want to ride.

Now, succeeding the C64 comes the C68. For this, Colnago has built upon the success of the C-series family while attempting to bring this traditional platform into the future.

This edition is as close to a custom bike as you’ll get from a brand the size of Colnago, with a tweaked carbon build and, for a limited number of bikes, 3D-printed titanium parts offering an almost made-to-measure fit. Colnago has also teased all-road and gravel versions of the C68 to come.

That almost comes as a footnote though as the brand is launching with the bike a new direct-to-consumer sales model in Europe, the UK and the UAE via its website.

Now customers can virtually build their bike on colnago.com with a 3D image reflecting design choices and augmented reality (AR) technology allowing users to see the bike in the room with them.

It also marks the introduction of blockchain technology, previously tested on Tadej Pogačar's World Championships bike, into the mass market, which Colnago claims improves the purchasing process and helps protect against theft and counterfeit.

A Colnago C68 frameset starts at £5,069.95/€5,650 and a full build at £12,499.95/€13,260.

The new build

It’s been four years since the last C-series bike was launched, which Cyclist called ‘a true dream bike’. Capitalism never settles though, so changes have been made from the C64 to the C68 to refine and modernise the setup.

Still completely made in Italy and eschewing monocoque moulded frames in favour of glued sections, the C68 pushes the line further towards custom.

Although it has the same number of ‘parts’, the new frame is put together with sections of interconnected tubing and lugs – rather than simple straight tube and lugs at junctions – as fewer joints were required to achieve the desired sizing changes.

The headline change is the removal of a single fixed headtube lug, replaced with a multi-piece structure that allows for the easy adaptation of the front-end tube junctions. This means that custom reach and stack can be offered in all sizes to get a more customised fit than the half sizes already available.

On top of that, Colnago’s new limited C68Ti builds come with 3D printed titanium parts, which allows for complete control over those angles to cater for even the most extreme needs.

There are two other major section changes: the top tube is now joined to lugs connecting to the seat tube and headtube, and the bottom bracket has been combined with the seat tube to make a single ‘part’.

That BB has also been switched out from its proprietary ThreadFit 82.5 to a standard T47, the brand says this is because of the similarities between the two – with the latter having launched after its own design – and the ease of maintenance of the T47 over the ThreadFit 82.5.

Colnago says the structural changes not only help with customisation but also make the frame more rigid, especially up front, to improve handling precision.

It also admits that the new setup is actually more aerodynamic than the V3Rs but won’t be used by pros for reasons to be made obvious later in the year.

The new cockpit

Physically, the biggest modernisation the C68 boasts is in its aesthetics, partially in making the frame less obviously segmented but also in its integration.

To do this, Colnago has added its new CC.01 integrated handlebars, which are made from monocoque carbon and come with 16 width and stem length variations as well as a 2cm flare to add control and a 5mm longer reach for improved aerodynamics on the hoods.

Colnago says they’re lighter than the market standard at a claimed 310g for size 110-410 – the former being stem length and the latter width – and have been aerodynamically shaped, meaning you’ll need to add the dedicated computer mount as normal ones won’t fit.

The CC.01 bars are designed for electronic groupsets and internal cable routing but are also compatible with external routed systems and rim brakes. They are also backwards compatible with C64 and V3Rs bikes.

For those that doesn’t appeal to, Colnago says the bike maintains the possibility to use any 31.8mm diameter handlebars as well as Deda’s integrated Alanera bars.

Colnago has also enlisted some outside help in the integration department as the C68 has a CeramicSpeed SLT headset. SLT stands for Solid Lubrication Technology and means that there’s theoretically no way to damage the balls inside the bearings, reducing the amount of tricky maintenance required for a fully integrated system.

For that reason, the two companies are offering customers a lifetime warranty on those bearings if anything does happen.

Finally, Colnago has stuck a multitool under the stem cap because this is not a race bike and things need fixing. It can be taken out to save weight, but it needs to be replaced with the correct fork expander as the tool’s carrier is considered structural to the steerer.

The new experience

To coincide with the release of the C68, Colnago has launched direct-to-consumer sales via its website and app, rather than relying solely on dealers and distribution partners.

Starting with those in Europe and the UAE – including the UK – customers can go to colnago.com and virtually build their Colnago C68 Nike ID-style, complete with 3D imagery, including both component and aesthetic choices such as an array of colour options.

The developers have even added augmented reality to proceedings, meaning riders can place their virtual bikes in the room next to them to see how it looks.

The new technology

That’s not all, whether you like it or not Colnago is pressing on with its use of blockchain technology after its initial teasing last year.

In a bid to be pioneers, the brand wanted to be the first to incorporate the technology in the industry, gambling on its continued growth.

As with Pogačar’s model, all new C68 bikes will come with a blockchain-linked tag that allows access to the bike’s unique information – ‘digital passport’, which includes technical spec – is held.

This can also be accessed before delivery, so customers can see what stage of the building process their bike is in.

Owners will receive a ‘Colnago smart card’, which they can scan with their phone through the app to access the digital passport, which shows the bike’s info and history, replacing a paper certificate or proof of purchase that can be lost. This will theoretically prevent counterfeit, which the brand says is a big problem.

Colnago also claims it will ‘maintain and guarantee’ the value of the bike over time as its legitimacy and history can be confirmed and says it will constantly add new services through the system that will add further value.

For starters, the perks include a 3D NFT of the bike if you’ve purchased through the website or app, and certificates of participation in official events from later this year.



Colnago C68 models and spec

Frame kits

  • Colnago C68 carbon frame kit: £5,069.95/€5,650
  • Colnago C68 carbon/titanium frame kit: £6,099.95/€6,600
  • Cost of colour configuration: €1,200

Colnago C68 Campagnolo

  • Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45
  • Price: €15,770

Colnago C68 Shimano

  • Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace C50
  • Price: £12,499.95 / €14,065

Colnago C68 SRAM

  • Groupset: SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Zipp 303 Firecrest
  • Price: €13,260

Colnago C68Ti Campagnolo

  • Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45
  • Price: €16,780

Colnago C68Ti Shimano

  • Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace C50
  • Price: €15,225

Colnago C68Ti SRAM

  • Groupset: SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed
  • Wheelset: Zipp 303 Firecrest
  • Price: €14,205

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