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A boy and his dog
By Anthony Tan & Tim Maloney
Colnago's C50 HP commemorates the "Cinquantesimo Anniversario di Colnago", marking a half-century of exquisite frame building by the Italian frame builder that officially began out of small bike shop in Cambiago, Italy back in 1954. Ernesto Colnago's flagship creation for 2004 replaces the Colnago C40, a frame considered by many to be the finest frame of any manufacturer during the 1990s and fittingly showcased by riders from the world's number one team, Mapei-Quick Step.
The basic premise behind the C50 HP remains unchanged, combining carbon-fibre tubing and carbon lugs (along with a titanium bottom bracket shell), designed to create a very stiff yet compliant and fatigue-resistant structure. However, with the C50, Colnago has reshaped its carbon tubes with an entirely new front triangle, featuring larger diameter tubes but at the same time keeping the "Master" ovalised design for both top and down tubes, similar to their aluminium "Dream" model. The head tube now accomodates a 1 1/8" threadless fork; despite modernisation of the bike elsewhere, Ernesto Colnago has long been a proponent of keeping fork and steerer strictly non-integrated.
Cyclingnews caught up with Navigators Insuance rider Phil Zajicek from Eugene, Oregon, while he and the team commenced their European spring campaign, beginning with their Italian training camp that included a visit to Colnago factory in Milan.
"We had our Dream training bikes in Australia, but when we got to Italy, Ernesto Colnago had these new C50s waiting for us and they are sweet! The C50 is a very stiff bike but also really comfortable, as it absorbs shocks well and tracks great - especially on twisty, tricky Italian descents," said Zajicek, who chose a sloping model C50, which is available in four sizes, as well as their non-sloping and "Freuler" sizes that feature extended headtube and seattube lugs.
While the latest versions of the C40 featured the "HP" or high performance chainstays, the HP chainstays on the C50 now have smoother edges to better absorb road shock than their predecessor. The diamond-shaped design is claimed to increase lateral rigidity and simultaneously make the rear triangle more vertically compliant, particularly on rough roads such as those experienced at the spring classics in northern Europe. New rear anodised dropouts connect to carbon stays via an internal pivot that penetrates the tubing.
Keeping the Italian flavour is the Campagnolo Record group and wheels, Stella Azzura bars and stem, Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars and Fi'zi:k saddle. Somewhat unusually, Zajicek opted for the Fi'zi:k Gobi, which is the mountain bike model of their popular Arione model "It's a little higher, but it worked better for me than some of the other Fi'zi:k models," he said. Not surprisingly, being an American insurance company, there are a few accessories from the homeland, such as Speedplay pedals and Thompson's seatpost with extra setback.
Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews
Images by Ray Cipollini/Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
Frame: Colnago C50 HP sloping, size 48 (53.1 cm top tube)
Cranks: Campagnolo Record Carbonio, 172.5mm
Rim: Campagnolo Hyperon tubular, 576g (F), 775g (R)
Stem: Stella Azzura Expresso alloy, 135mm
Pedals: Speedplay Zeros Ti, 164g