What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Test: Colnago’s Extreme Power

PEZ Build up a custom Colnago Extreme Power.

Not many brands create the automatic salivation that Colnago do. Sure there are lots of great bikes and dare I say that no single stock bicycle maker is the right choice for everyone… But you’ll not find a long list of companies or men that would claim to be better recognized and have a better track record of recent and past success than Ernesto Colnago and Colnago Bicycles…

Not many bike geek/would be writers wouldn’t hop on a plane at the invitation to have Ernesto Colnago personally measure you up for a bike. And as I fit the geek thing pretty well, I was happy to grab a flight out to Veltec Sport’s new distribution facility and have a look at their latest line up and have an audience with the pope of pedaling…

And as my fluent Italian is limited to ordering beer and making a fool of myself with women (I’m multilingual there…) it was a pleasure to also have Alex Colnago on hand as he’s both a breeze in English and is also an exceptional cycling resource on his own.

I could sit for hours listening to the recap of conversations like the one Ernesto had to have with the Mapei team to convince them that their new “Fabric bike” would be able to at least survive Paris Roubaix. It goes without saying that the conversation went a lot smoother with the team after “Fabric” rolled into the Velodrome with a 1,2,3 finish for the C-40…

And it was pretty much at that point that carbon fiber became more than simply an acceptable risk…

But after a period that was far too short talking about cycling history for Colnago that is anything but… We got down to the table of goodies that kept pulling at my attention.

Easily my favorite look of the bunch was the Italian TriColore themed Extreme Power and it was that bike that I snatched up and ran out with, but as I risked getting my but kicked by a girl for hogging the frame, I settled for simple snapping a picture and sadly handed it back.

From there it was over to having Ernesto size up a few lucky people.

But rather than the typical fitting you get from professional coaches, this one was rather less formal or scientific.

A quick check of height…

An arm length and an inseam check and a couple of other measurements had me wondering “is that really all you need?” to which the very confident reply with a smile was “with your flexibility, I decided on your size without measuring, but I wanted you to have something to take with you…”

There was also a case where it seemed like making one custom fit body was better than making a 23rd stock size for Colnago…

But in actuality it was just some tight (and deceptively strong) legs on Uber-Journo Bruce Hildenbrand that needed some stretching. And after hearing Ernesto speak and watch him work a bit, it was no surprise at all to see him step in. His image as a the Capo of cycling wasn’t earned because his hands have ever been afraid of work.

All said and done, I wound up with completed, signed and autographed personal fit sheet mailed to me shortly afterward.

But then it was the big box that came a short while later that contained the story subject for today… And it wound up being the exact frame that I had tried hopelessly to sneak out of the meeting, fit in my backpack, under my shirt and covered with a tablecloth…

The new Extreme Power.


the thumbnail at the top of the story has a BIG picture…

I knew it was on the way, and had time to scan their web site 1043 times looking at the catalogue shot as well as scrolling through my own pictures. But despite the mental build-up, the looks of this bicycle simply exceeded my own self-hyped expectations. Yeah, sure that’s a personal thing. Looks always are, and this may simply not be your thing. But I can say that the first couple of rides had guys in the group drifting aimlessly toward me and it wasn’t because I looked good in my Pez shorts (at least I hope not…).

And though Ernesto made very little fuss in fitting me up, he had something in common with the tailor I use. After decades at the top of the business both men simply know how to mate “fabric” to bodies… (and you’re shy a couple thousand dollars every time you visit them both as well…)

The frame and stem length were a dead on match to the extremely detailed medical fit I’ve had from three different, and well known, bike fitters…

Out The Box

The Frame itself is fairly classic in design, no huge wiggles or extreme bulges. But Colnago continue to get more visual “bang” with less actual paint than just about anyone…

All that aside, it’s what few people will ever see that set the Extreme Power apart from it’s also beautiful brother the C-50. It’s Colnago’s continued partnership with a carbon supplier for a team that gets more visual “bang” from one color that just about anyone else does with a full pallet…

Something that Colnago have reasonable access to is the same tech going into Formula One. While other bicycle manufacturers claim to have ties with the same producers of carbon for the slightly faster sport, Colnago have incorporated some of the tech in the new Extreme Power. And in typical Colnago fashion, they apply the technology without effecting traditional lines of the bicycle by reinforcing the inside of the tubes…

Note the raised section fairly easy to see above in yellow.

Colnago put additional material where it will perform the function in both short addition…

And longer reinforcement…

It’s this improved stiffness that shows itself in the form of resisting better side stress that raises the game for the Extreme Power to a higher level for cyclists that want that extra stiffness over the C-50.

Colnago leave the tubes exterior as a rounded shape that is also conical growing, as lots of performance bikes do, from the head tube down to the bottom bracket.

The BB looks quite a bit like the standard C50 and its C40 elders, A traditional lug with tubes inserted, and also with a machined Titanium insert to house the cranks.

All in all, the more traditional lines make for a modern classic that doesn’t rely on much gimmick to sell itself…

The rear end doesn’t do much in the way of special shapes either. It keeps the tried and tested wishbone design and fairly straight seat stay legs that ask for nothing more (than maybe a black set of brakes…)

But the chain stays do get a fair boost in volume, top to bottom in what Colnago call a “leaf” shape. And like some leafs there is a side reinforcing rib running the center that will help with side flex…

Up front, the Extreme gets the Star Carbon fork that also has a very slight bulge in the center of its straight, clubman, style blades. But the paint hides it very well and helps maintain the simple lines of the Extreme Power.

That’s The “Stuff”
But is the frame and kit together the right stuff?

Well yes and no.

I say (too often) that one of the things I try to do is have some sort of baseline for bike tests… It’s not pure science and my “buttometer” can require a few cracks at something, mixed in with some back to back riding of other bikes with the same base components in order to get a better feel. This was one time where baseline equipment was absolutely a good thing.

Initially this bike came presented as such (sorry for a reposted picture, but it beats scrolling up…)

It was transformed however into what looks pretty similar to, but wound up being a substantial change for the better…

Kinda a “where’s Waldo” puzzle, but the answer is easy. Waldo’s in Florida at the American Classic factory…

“Waldo” was also to a lesser extent hidden in this seat post and saddle, as it was a carbon veneer around alloy.

They got swapped out for a 3t “Less” post that weighed, well, less… It along with my own saddle put things a bit more right, lowering road vibes and the center of gravity at the same time.

I’ve often wondered if I was really doing any sort of good by trying to swap to familiar wheels and tires (same pressures) on test bikes, thinking I should simply do like a few other testers and spend half an article mugging for the camera rather than shooting closeups of the bike and then spend a while talking or chirping about a build kit that doesn’t suite me (in an attempt to find something insignificant to complain about so I sound “neutral”).

This was one time where it really made a difference.

I used American Classics Magnesium wheels along with Zipp tubies on every test bike this year. Most of the time I tell companies to send the bike without wheels, but this one came with Fulcrum Racing 1’s and I rode the bike as sent.

I came back after 3 rides on the same 90 minute test course that every bike gets thinking the Extreme is absolutely stiffer feeling than the 50… But I had a kinda uneasy feeling as I wanted to be blown away and really feel like I was delivering more stable / less flexy power. The problem was that I felt the more stable / less flexy part, but couldn’t bring my self to admit to feeling any faster. In fact, when I would do jumps and sprints or brief but steep climbs, I felt slower…

Honestly I wondered what was wrong with me, as I couldn’t get my head around a bike like this feeling worse than the 50 (and I have a 50 here for direct comparison… as well as a 40…).

So I slip on the Mag 300’s… And poof, the Extreme changes character…

The Extreme Power, with a wheel set that has adequate stiffness but whole lot less mass rotating at the rim, makes this a better attacking bike than its brother (another note that we ran the same Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp’s that were on the Fulcrums and at same pressure). The little bit of extra stiffness really does show up… And rather than a noticeably rougher ride on the Extreme, the comfort level with the same wheels and tires and pressures is pretty comparable to the C50 on all but infrequent large bumps and harder hits. The soaking up of road buzz and clatter that you face on 99% of your ride is C series good.

And when I say it’s comperable to the C50 in comfort in most conditions, that means it’s very good. I would hate for anyone to come away thinking that either of these bikes is simply acceptable, as the C50 is one of the best all around bikes available.

In fact that’s where Colnago have a winner here. The Extreme Power, in my opinion (as someone who doesn’t need to market a bicycle…), should be called the “Enough Power”… Enough for big power guys, but not over cooked to the point where it robs a lot of comfort.

That’s typical Colnago as well… They’ve never been one to chase a statistic over ride quality… and that plays out oddly enough in a statistic.

This one.

When you’re invested in the ride, you make 22 sizes because fit at days end is critical to ride quality…

All that said, I am still a standard C-50 guy. Not because it’s a better bike, but because it’s a different bike, and for every guy like me (150 lbs and appreciative of smoothness and light weight) there is a bigger, stomper type guy wanting the added stability and stiffness that comes with the Extreme Power. I would be very happy with either, but they both have a lean toward a type of rider and both offer a massive range of fit…

Now in fairness to Fulcrum they make a slightly better wheel than their Mavic cousins the Ksyrium but I am not a sloppy guy that will notice that the American Classics do have more side flex. I am not a low power guy either, and simply notice the FAR snappier acceleration and better, quicker handling of the lighter American Classic and Zipps (even Zipps CSC training clinchers) more than I notice any better stiffness of the Fulcrum. This was a great example of how important wheels are to a bike. I would say that wheels are more important than most of us give them credit for…

So there it is…

Smoothness on par with the smoothest in most conditions and far better than several bikes built with a stiffness focus. Stiffness increased to the point where Petacchi, Zabel, Freire and a few of their flat land bodyguards chose it, and enough sizes to suite, well, more people than bike companies with fewer sizes can…

Handling is stable, not super fast / twitchy. There’s more geometry available, but then Colnago will also Knock out custom geometry for those wanting to wait. This isn’t sluggish, its neutral and won’t have you messing around much holding a line.

The weight is @1100 grams (53) frame and while not an ultralight on the scale, the low and well placed center of gravity (of frame and, with good fit, the rider is centered as well) makes for a bike that feels lighter than its respectable stats.

Price is near the top end of anything in cycling, but then the Extreme Power’s price is relative to its earned place near the top of the food chain… Expect to kick out some place between 4 and 5,000 dollars for frame and fork.

One line description?
The C50 is among the best all round frames available and The Extreme Power is it’s tougher stronger twin.

You can contact Veltec Sports for a dealer near you, and I would strongly suggest buying from an approved dealer rather than risking sending your money over the ocean…

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan


Thanks for looking. We’re happy to bring you lots of large pictures built into the story rather than making you click a bunch of extra pages and thumbnails. We would rather make things convenient and entertaining for you than artificially inflate our page view count to pump up advertising numbers…

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

Send your comments to: [email protected]

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.