Technology for us is not an end in itself, it is something that has a concrete objective: to build the safest frames in the world.
The technology in Colnago is a beautiful story. A red thread that unites a 60-year journey, built on the incessant search for innovation and attention to details. Technological excellence is combined in our bicycles to a glorious tradition, rich in success and prestigious collaborations.
It has always belonged to our DNA and we are proud of it, but the continuous improvements introduced in each of our new frames are not just images.
Tolerances between tubes and lugs must be 0.15 mm maximum, to allow a perfect bonding, able to withstand the flexural-torsional stresses without risk of separation.
Using lugs means being able to use tubes of the desired length, in other words to build a frame that is really tailor-made for the customer. Of course, depending on the requirements, molds with different angles and very precise are required, because carbon cannot be deformed like a metallic material, and the tolerances between tubes and lugs must be 0.15 mm maximum, to allow perfect gluing, able to withstand flexion-torsional stress without risk of separation.
A curiosity: before the final realization of the molds for the carbon, 3D prints are made of all the individual pieces of the frame, then assembled to form a “virtual” bicycle to also aesthetically evaluate the result.
The tubes are glued into the lugs with a two-component aerospace derivative adhesive, capable of exceeding 1 ton and 200 kg traction.
The adhesive used to glue the tubes in the lugs is a two-component aerospace derivative glue, adopted based on tests carried out in collaboration with the aerospace section of the Milan Polytechnic University in the most varied conditions: from extreme heat and cold, up to salt spray . We do not know in what places the bicycle will be used, but we must in any case always demand and guarantee the maximum possible safety from each of our frames.
The tightness tests to which the tubes are bonded are of the utmost severity: in practice a 31.7 mm diameter tube, glued for 2.5 cm, must overcome traction – the hardest test ever for the gluing – of 1 ton and 200 kg.
It should be noted that these results are possible also thanks to the extreme care that we put into the specific preparation phase of tubes and lugs.
First we proceed by sandblasting with special material, to eliminate any minimal surface impurities of carbon; then a chemical pickling is made to remove any imperceptible dust residues, and finally the whole must be glued within 30 minutes, to avoid eventual deposits of atmospheric dust.
The frame is then placed on a template, leaving the adhesive to cure at room temperature for about 90 minutes; then it is placed in a thermo-ventilated oven where the polymerization ends, going from 20 to 85 degrees for another 90 minutes, and finally left to cool again to room temperature, always without removing it from the oven to avoid drafts that could alter the final result.
A 3-year field study carried out with the aerospace section of the Milan Polytechnic allowed us to develop exclusive "crash" and "fatigue" computerized crash test machines, with which we are able to perform resistance tests. extremely rigorous and reliable.
There are many different types of carbon fiber, naturally of different quality and characteristics.
When a new project is realized, to obtain the desired strength of the frame it is essential to determine the differentiation of the thickness and type of fiber to be used in the various parts of the frame, because some areas must withstand greater stresses and stresses than others.
The indications to proceed with the utmost accuracy came from a 3-year study carried out always with the aerospace section of the Milan Polytechnic.
In practice, with a bicycle equipped with 40 sensors applied at key points, a professional cyclist has traveled about 3,500 km on all types of terrain: from asphalt to paving, to dirt, to the cobblestones, facing every kind of stress.
During the test, the athlete was constantly followed by a computerized van, which recorded the angle and incidence of every effort suffered by the bicycle in the different areas of the frame.
This precious collaboration has allowed us then to create our exclusive crash test machines, both “impact” and “hard”, with which we have developed the carbon fibers necessary to support the specific efforts of each area of the frame.
We can indisputably state that our frames are the safest in the world, as we have implemented internal parameters that shall exceed at least 5 times the limits imposed by the UNI-ISO global standards on resistance.
We never settle to simply comply with the UNI – ISO global standards on frame resistance; we have implemented our internal parameters which shall exceed the limits of at least 5 times.
This is the reason why we can today indisputably state that we boast the world’s safest frames.
This is not simply our point of view: the “ruthless” crash tests we rely on more eloquently confirm that.
The frame, assembled by means of a solid steel stiff fork to stress it at the utmost, is fastened front and back; the pedaling is then simulated by two pistons connected to the bottom bracket which develop a force that ranges between 75 and 175 kg.
An 80 kg weight is placed on the saddle, while a solid steel sham handlebar is mounted front, on which a 30 kg force, alternating both on the right and the left side, is exerted.
Every 100 cycles, the front fork is placed under an additional 100 kg stress, and the frame shall overall withstand 1 million cycles carried out that way.
In order to specifically stress the fork, we use a stress test machine. This component shall also withstand 1 million cycles under a force ranging from 600 to 1,050 Newton. The whole process is computerized and any failure would be promptly alerted.
The C64 frame outstandingly passes also the “punitive” impact test, by withstanding a weight of 24.5 kg being dropped from a height of more than 1 meter without any failure.
The most “punitive” test for carbon, however, is the impact test.
Usually in practice the frame is positioned vertically and bound in the back; a weight (according to 22.5 kg regulation) is then dropped onto the front fork, along the front hub axle – rear hub, from a distance of 212 mm. If the frame does not undergo a permanent deformation of 8 mm, it is considered to be compliant.
Starting from the data obtained from our field tests, we do not however consider these limits sufficiently rigorous, so we have gone much further.
Our test therefore consists in assembling the frame as described, using a weight of 24.5 kg, dropped first by 212 mm, then in succession by 350 mm, by 450, by 600, by 750, by 900 and finally by the maximum supported by the machine, that is from 1.040 mm.
The C64 chassis brilliantly overcomes this terrible test, but the most important thing is that even if the computer signals a small failure, thanks to the structure of our carbon safety would still be guaranteed and the complete breaking of the frame would never occur.