I picked up the new Colnago Ace today and went for a ride this afternoon. All I can say is WOW! It was certainly not the subtle changes that I was expecting. Here is my ride report and some photos that I took of the bike in this afternoons ride.
I had the bike weighted at the shop and it weighed in at 18.1 lbs with the SPD M520 pedals installed and the slightly heavier Ultra Gatorskin tires. That's around 2 lbs lighter than the Defy. The thing that is contributing to the weight is the crankset. The cassette and chain are 105 components with the front, rear derailleurs and brifters being Ultegras. For some reason, Colnago put a Tiagra crankset and BB on this model for both the 105 and Ultegra versions, which happens to be the only difference between them.
The frame is almost identical in geometry and measurements as that of my Defy, which is one of the reasons I got this bike over the Bianchi Infinito that I was also looking at. The stem is 10 cm longer than the one on the Defy but the handlebars are also shorter from the curve of the drop to the back of the bars, making up for the difference. Since all the measurements from my Defy are in the Retul computer, they were able to set up this bike within ± 3 mm of the settings on the Defy, which was a perfect for me.
The saddle is much nicer on the sit bones than the OEM Giant saddle. It's a bit narrower at the rear but my sit bones fit on it just right. The nose of the saddle is slightly longer so I have to work on my mounting and dismounting so I don't hit it in the process.
Again, all I can say is WOW! I just had a wheel-to-wheel tune up done on the Defy (about three weeks ago) and when I got it back it felt like it did on the day I got it. Everything was smooth and crisp and the ride was great. I didn't think that there would be that much difference between the two bikes as far as ride and performance, but was I ever wrong. Starting with the push-off, the Colnago is like taking off from a light in an automatic transmission compared to a standard with the Defy. It's much easier, quicker and smoother.
Today, I rode at the wilderness park which is pretty much flat so I didn't do that much shifting. However, the shifting that I did do was as expected. The Ultegra is so much better than the Sora/Tiagra that I have on the Defy. It shifts cleaner, smoother and faster than the Defy but I now have to get used to not having the thumb shifter that I had with the Sora.
I rode the bike today without a computer or MP3 player. Just the bike, the road, the wind and me. I don't know how I did as far as speed goes, but it seemed to me that I was going a bit faster then normal using the same effort that I normally ride at. The handling was superb, crisp and tight. I need to get used to going around sharp turns as it corners much better with less effort than the Defy.
The loop at the MUP is pretty smooth, but the service roads have some bumpy areas to them and I hit every one I could find. I still felt the bumps, but it wasn't as hard as hitting them on the Defy. The CF frame really does smooth out the bumps. The ride difference is definitely noticeable.
I took these photos at the MUP with my cheap jersey camera. I plan to take some more tomorrow, especially some close-ups of the components. This photo is at the bridge that is used when the path next to it (on the left) gets flooded out during heavy rains. It's not that clear, but the lines on the downtube and seat tube and stays are red and the one that goes around the headtube is black. The red Zipp handlebar tape I ordered didn't come in so the bike still has the white tape on it. You can't see it in these photos, but the brake faces are red and I think the red tape would really add to the this bike over that of the white tape. Plus it won't get as dirty.
Here is the bike at the park entrance.