Colnago M10 Review

10 Dec


The following article was originally printed in the Washingmachinepost and is reprinted here with full permission. Colnago Con Brio is extremely grateful to Brian Palmer.

The m10 is colnago’s avowed development of the cx-1, stage one of the self-proclaimed ‘colnago revolution’. a part of this revolution has been the the far eastern production of monocoque frames, having lived off Italian tubes and lugs for most of the company’s history. the m10 is topped, at least in terms of hierarchical price, by the eps of a couple of years ago, and the brand spanking new c59, winner of the king of the mountains in the 2010 tour de france, as well as one stage of the same race.

tubes and lugs place far more restriction on the shapes that can be incorporated into a bicycle frame than the rather more scribble-pad world of the monocoque. for here it is possible to mold the design into any number of wonderful geometrics, limited only by the flexibility of that finite element analysis software. thus, the m10 bears little physical resemblance to that of the c59, yet, if colnago are to believed, it should have some affinity to its more expensive brethren, if only through that of lineage.


sculptural would be an excellent adjective to use while adoring just what is possible when morphing one tube into another. of course, the word tube itself has become a somewhat redundant term in the modern world of carbon fibre. the top tube has a table flat top between the grossly oversized head tube and the round/flat/square seat tube. the underside is an inverted triangle, with reinforced slots front and rear to accommodate the internal cable fashion that has come out of almost nowhere.


That headtube, in common with both the eps and c59 is tapered outward from 1.125″ at the top to 1.25 at the bottom. whether this is a necessity even on a modern bicycle is really a rather moot point nowadays, since pretty much everyone’s got one, and i can’t honestly say it has any negative effect on any aspect of the bike’s handling. i’m even beginning to admire the beefiness, but purely from an aesthetic point of view.

at the opposite end, it’s hard to say where the q2 stays start and the top tube ends, commencing with a substantial and flat monostay before splitting above the brake bridge, leaving a more discrete gap than was the case with the more ubiquitous b-stay of yesteryear. however, no matter how hard you try not to stare, the feature that cannot be ignored is that colossal downtube; a flat-sided triangle on the top with a completely flat underside. the magic is in how such magnitude blends easily into the head tube flare but retains its enormity at the bottom bracket.

tubes and lugs can create a bottom bracket area of immense beauty and simplicity, while retaining a degree of strength and rigidity that will impress even the most powerful of thighs. monocoques fare considerably less well in this respect, having to pay homage to the great god stiffness by means of substantial areas of carbon. and while this has been portrayed by all those who invest in monocoque technology as a feature not a bug, there’s no denying its lack of finesse in the pursuit of mechanical adeptness. this is drawn into even greater contrast where the bottom bracket becomes the seat tube. the flat top of the down tube is continued across the front face of the seat tube, while the narrower proportions of top to bottom make a valiant attempt at being round.



there’s no real difference between the q2 stays on the m10 and those affixed to the c59, other than their method of conjoining. they’re a lot squarer than the b-stay style of the eps, and i can’t help but bemoan the loss of those fabulous leaf-stays that grace the clx, the eps and, indeed, my carbon-tailed master x-light.

the contemporary notion of concealing the cables from public view, aside from losing the cable adjusters of yore, necessitate reinforcing the holes bored into the carbon. however, the cables are not left to fend for themselves once inside the frame; noodle tubes take care of that. the fascinating bit, for me at least, is the brutal yet elegant manner in which both gear cables wrap themselves under the bottom bracket via a full-width slot at the end of the underside of the down tube.

although a fairly common aspect on many a modern carbon machine, colnago was amongst the first to adopt the straight fork in preference to those with a gentle curve, admittedly on the advice of ferrari. but in keeping with the exponential growth in every other tube on the m10, the fork legs could likely withstand a herd of charging wildebeest. sitting next to the chromed, slimline precisa forks on the master, their oversizing was even more exaggerated. however,a modest degree of external fluting prevents an overweening slab-sided mentality from prevailing. disappointingly, though i should be well used to it by now, the dropouts have those little tabs that not only prevent the wheel falling out inadvertently (like any of us are going to let that happen), but turn the efficiency of a quick-release skewer into someones idea of a bad joke. it is a malevolence, however, not confined to colnago forks.



the review model came complete with silver nokon cable outers with which i have great truck, having fitted a set of blue ones to my late-lamented colnago c40. i know i’m not alone in expressing a lack of enthusiasm for colnago’s current crop of paint schemes, and the black, white and silver (mawh) of the review model was no exception. the quality is unimpeachable, but it would be nice if a portion of the creativity aimed at the carbon sculpting was diverted to the paint shop. i am in complete agreement with those who hold colour schemes as mere frippery, unnoticeable while pedalling, but after spending in excess of £5000 on a complete bicycle, it would be nice to have some degree of pride in ownership extending to how it looks to everyone else in the peloton.

How it looks has been even more devalued by colnago’s insistence on decorating (and i use the word in its loosest sense) that top tube with totally inane graphics more at home on something from halfords. the flat top of the top tube features a chs-1 revolution decal, obviously referring to the headset, but one acronym too far in my opinion. then just to add insult to injury, on the underside edge of the very same tube are the words structural routing, referring, i assume, to the fact that the cables are hidden inside the frame, something immediately apparent from looking at the bike. yet it doesn’t stop there, for on each seatstay it states monocoque structure; surely, in that case, the c59 should have said tubes and lugs? i can live with the word colnago repeated ad finitum across every surface (it is even writ large on the underside of that enormous downtube), but i see no value in this practise whatsoever.colnago review bikes arrive in a bike bag, nestled between a large slab of thick card and a couple of wheel bags. despite acres of bubble wrap and at least a decent groupset, lifting the frame out from between gives substantial credence to colnago’s claimed weight of under 1kg for the front and rear triangles; and the forks add very little to the equation.

colnago’s uk distributor not only dispenses the nokon cable system mentioned above, but also fsa products; coincidentally, the latter has their headquarters not that far from cambiago and is also the supplier of the colnago (sic) semi-integrated chs-1 headset. thus the review model was as much an fsa benefit as one for colnago, chosen from the slk light range. seatpost, polished alloy 110mm stem, carbon handlebar, brakeset and compact chainset were all sourced from the slk catalogue. graphically at least, the components were all well co-ordinated.


fsa not having quite made the leap to a full groupset, though i doubt the day is too far away, transmission duties were undertaken by eleven speed campagnolo record; carbon levers, carbon outer-plate front mech, and carbon-alloy rear derailleur. the eleven speed cassette had been slipped on to the rear of a pair of fsa rd-488 carbon sprint wheels shod with continental tubulars. i love these tyres. with a 50mm deep carbon rim, twenty radial spokes up front and 24 at the back, they weigh a rotational friendly 1.5kg; not quite in carbonsports territory, but at a few pence short of £1000, not invading their price list either.

perhaps one of the most important components on any bicycle is the saddle, unless you’re particularly keen on standing on the flat as well as on the hills. the rather quaintly and obcurely named s:manie provided the carbon-shelled green and white version on the m10, with a thin leather covering the bare minimum of padding. 


going for a ride

I am firmly of the opinion that pretty much any bicycle-shaped object will travel adequately, and in some cases, quite satisfactorily, over flat ground. what makes the difference between the mundane and the exotic, is how well it performs heading uphill and consequently, downhill. for those are the two parts of the ride that give the frame the most hassle, particularly if the rider’s abilities are just the wrong side of inadequate.


secure in the knowledge that, during the whitest December the UK has had for many a long year, that i might well be the only person out bike-testing at present, the m10’s first extended outing had to cope with slidy, slushy and crispy road coverings, often not in that order, and rarely in the limited quantities that would have made life a deal safer than they appeared. it’s not often i have had cause to continually thank a bicycle for looking after me so well, but the stability of the m10 under fire was a marvel to behold.

this is the bit that is hardest to put into words; i know that’s my job, but the m10 didn’t make it any easier. cast your mind back to my review of the cx-1, colnago’s first stab at the revolution; here was a bike that gave the intial impression of being nothing more than simply a good carbon frame, but not engendering the excitement one would hope to get from a colnago. i am no expert on the whys and wherefores of carbon frame construction or design, but it appears that this experience is one that is inherent in colnago’s revolution frames. for the m10 did nothing to undermine the sensation of that first cx-1 ride.


it’s a subtlety that might conceivably diminish the m10’s appeal during or after that first ride, and after shelling out a not inconsiderable amount of money, i wouldn’t blame you for feeling short-changed. however, that part is a complete sham; this is one of the finest bikes on the planet, working like a demon to get you uphill and down dale, cornering as if on rails and with a level of chuckability that it takes time to discover. and while it’s doing all this, the comfort of a parker-knoll armchair is available whatever the riding conditions. those islay roads only brought out for special occasions barely troubled it at all; i was always aware of the granulated surfaces over which i sped, but they troubled me little. the m10 took care of all of that.


while i stand by my comment that the colnago c59 is undoubtedly the most exciting bicycle i have ever ridden, it very much wears it’s heart on its down tube. the c59 parades every bit of that excitement for all to see, while the m10 does all the same stuff behind the scenery. i would be the first to admit that i couldn’t hope to give any colnago the sort of trouble that messrs voeckler and arashiro can dish out, but i do try as hard as i can, and it’s always rewarding when the bike gives just as much back.

climbing the 14% gradient at port askaig on a fine, crisp Sunday morning left me with two untroubled sprockets at the rear, and on the run-in to the intermediate sprint at bruichladdich, reaching the line first without over-extending myself had a great deal more to do with the m10 than with yours truly.

climbing is immeasurably improved by those carbon wheels and my favoured tubulars, but in keeping with every colnago i have ever ridden, there is that fabulous kick and follow through from the pedals to the bottom-bracket when climbing hard (a relative term). as inferred from the clydeside shipyard style bottom bracket area, lateral movement is conspicuous by its absence. likewise the old-wives’ trick of closing the brake pads so close to the rear rim that the calipers can scarcely breathe, showed no proximity effect whatsoever. this is a quantifiably rigid frame, yet possibly the most comfortable it has been my pleasure to pedal.



thus, when push comes to shove, the m10 displays all the chuckability that belongs to the c59, and to a slightly lesser extent, the eps, it just takes care of business with a subtlety not always extant at this end of the troposphere, and for this we should not only be thankful, but eager to form an orderly queue outside the neighbourhood colnago dealer.

from a personal point of view, the 110mm slk stem was just a touch too short, given that i normally ride a 130mm, but the slk carbon bars were more noticeable and effective than i would at first have given them credit for. despite having to rather tentatively deal with carbon rims in less than favourable condition (ice and slush), the slk calipers were easily the equal of anything proffered by their competitors; despite the occasional need to grab handfuls of lever, they never locked up once.

This is the second s:manie saddle i have perched my bottom on, and while it excels when speed is first on the menu, it became a tad uncomfortable at slower velocities. that hardly constitutes a criticism, however, since i don’t see too many sales of either saddle or colnago for the art of riding slowly.


I have found myself to be a recent advocate, and quite likely convert, to the joys of changing gear in the double-tap way of sram, having been a lifelong adherent of the campagnolo way of doing things. i don’t mind admitting that this would likely still be the case if I’d had the nerve and perspicacity to follow vicenza from ten speeds to eleven, for the functionality of the record eleven speed really is second to none. the gearset worked faultlessy; the rear derailleur had to be bolted in place on delivery, but not a single cable adjuster was harmed in the making of this review, and all eleven clicks were crisp and precise throughout with minimal input from the rider.

a colnago at this level deserves the finest of trinketry, but as it’s sold as frame, fork and headset, quite what that incorporates is entirely up to the purchaser. however, it would be a travesty not to decorate the four corners with the best of the best, or something just a shiny bit less. this is a seriously impressive frame, and one that colnago intend to provide for the riders in the new french europcar team and the csf inox colnago team in 2011, perhaps attesting to the level at which cambiago see the m10 performing.


It’s a fabulous, yet cunningly subtle bicycle that gives substantial credence to colnago’s rhetoric that the revolution did indeed commence with the cx-1, and that its lineage is now in safe hands, intent on changing our historical perspective of just what it is that makes a great colnago.

please just have a bit of re-think about those pointless decals!


the colnago m10 is sold as a frame only, costing £2699.99 and arrives with carbon fork and colnago semi-integrated headset. orders can be placed at your nearest colnago dealer. the review model as tested would cost around £5,000



One Response to “Colnago M10 Review”

  1. wju2020 April 25, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    I just purchased the M10 and spent a week cycling in Tucson, AZ. After riding 700K, climbing 6500m, and spending 27hrs in the saddle I can attest to the comments made in this article about the ride and handling of this bike. The 25 mile decent down Mount Lemmon on a windy day, really confirmed to me how responsive this bike corners. The only issue I had was while I was in 34X25 my rear derailleur was clicking on my spokes.

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