Colnago had produced bikes with carbon forks as early as the mid 1980’s. A number of different models were sold with carbon forks including the Volo and C35, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that Colnago released their first range of carbon fibre forks that were available for purchase separately and not sold as part of a specific frame set.
Whilst the Colnago C40 frame was completely made from carbon fibre, it was originally sold with steel Precisa forks for the first few years. Some frames were also sold with Time ‘Colnago’ carbon forks until Colnago released their own range of carbon forks. Colnago’s new carbon forks were named ‘Star’ and ‘Force’. The ‘Flash’ model was released later in 2001 .
These forks were built with traditional 1 inch diameter steerer tubes, but it was not threaded. At this point, the bicycle industry was moving away from threaded headsets and quill stems. Colnago, like other bike manufacturers adopted this new technology and updated their fork designs.
These new style forks required a threadless headset and a stem that clamped directly to the fork steerer (just like on modern bikes). Note: these clamp-on stems were designed to fit a 1 inch fork steerer tube and are not compatible with modern forks that use a 1-1/8 inch steerer tube.
The Star Fork
The Star fork was the premium model. It featured a monocoque (one piece) carbon fibre design (including steerer tube) without any glue. I have read the weight of this fork is around 300 gms, however this will vary depending on the length of the steerer tube. It appears that most of these forks are labelled with the Star logo making them easy to identify, however there are some versions of this fork with different graphics and no labeling.
I have read that the fork tips were carbon on the original 1 inch Star fork, but covered with thin metal plates, presumably to improve durability in a high wear area. Unfortunately, I don’t own one to check.
The Force Fork
The Force fork was the ‘more affordable’ version. It was also a monocoque carbon fibre design (including steerer tube), but with alloy fork tips. Which made it a bit heavier and cheaper to manufacture.
The Flash Fork
In 2001, Colnago released a third carbon fork called the ‘Flash’. This fork featured even more economical parts and construction. As you can see in the catalog page below, it featured a CroMo steel steerer tube, aluminium fork crown, carbon fibre fork blades and aluminium drop-outs. In 2004 this model was either rename (or replaced) by the ‘Street’ fork.
Fork Steerer Tube Diameters
Prior to 2004, these forks were only available with a 1 inch fork steerer tube. In 2004, Colnago released new versions of these forks and they were also available with a 1-1/8 inch steerer tube. The original 1 inch forks were suited to the Colnago C40 and the new 1-1/8 inch forks were designed to fit the new Colnago C50.
Additionally the 2004 Star fork design was updated with ribs added to the fork legs, presumably to provide additional stiffness and better handling.
Note: a shim can be fitted if you want to use a 1 inch fork in a frame designed for a 1-1/8 inch steerer. Having said that, it is easier to find a 1-1/8 fork on eBay than an older 1 inch fork, so not sure many people would go with that option.
I believe these new carbon forks retained the same rake as the original Precisa steel fork to ensure there was no change in handling. The fork crown features a 4 degree offset to match the fork rake (which according to my research is 43mm).
Note: Steering response is also affected by the head tube angle which often varies by frame size.
Fork Steerer Tube Length
According to a few ad’s I saw on eBay for a NOS Star forks, the original steerer tube is 30 cm long for both the 1 inch and the 1-1/8 inch versions. I would presume the same tube length for the Force and Flash models.
Which Fork with Which Frame?
I have read the customer could specify which fork they wanted when ordering a C40 or C50 frame. If you wanted lowest weight, highest price, you could order the Star fork. To save some money, you could order either the Force fork or Flash fork. No doubt however, most distributors probably ordered complete frame sets of their choice. I expect the Star fork was usually supplied with a C40 (from 2000 onwards) and the C50 frame.
Reading an old review of the C40, the reviewer noted that the cost of the Force fork was GBP 300 (in June 2003), so that would make the Star fork certainly an expensive option, but I have not found any pricing from the era.
Durability of Carbon Forks & Frames
According to this article discussing the durability and longevity of carbon fibre frames and forks, they are extremely durable and can be expected to last longer than equivalent metal components, provided several important criteria are met.
What about Newer Colnago Forks?
Unfortunately, this article only covers Colnago carbon forks released up to their 2004 catalog.
I have been riding and working on my own bikes for many years now. I wanted to share my experiences, knowledge and research with others. My aim is to inspire people to get involved in all aspects of this amazing sport. Cheers.
I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.
9 thoughts on “Colnago Carbon Fork History”
I recently purchased a 2004 C40 (ebay) and greatly appreciate the info you provide on your site. I’ve learned a lot and it has helped me have a greater appreciation of my Colnago. It’s been on my wish list for a long time and love staring ( and riding it ) everyday. Grazie Signore Colnago.
Thanks, yes the C40 is definitely a very nice bike and will always have a significant place in cycling history.
I have a Colnago C40 probably the first edition, but I have a carbon fork without the colnago logo, was there such a version?
I think Colnago built all their carbon forks with straight legs. In the early 1990’s, Colnago changed from curved to straight leg steel forks with the release of their revolutionary Precisa steel fork. I believe all their carbon forks came after the Precisa (presumably designed with straight legs).
Looking at your photo it looks like your bike is a first version C40 which would have likely been supplied with a Precisa steel fork. Maybe a prior owner decided to *upgrade* the bike by swapping to a carbon fork from a different manufacturer? I believe the original steel fork would have been painted in a colour scheme to match your frame.
thank you for the information personally,
I wouldn’t change the original fork 😉
Is there anyone here can give me information, a link where I can buy star fork for my colnago c40,
I’m guessing they would be quite hard to find. You also need to make sure the steerer tube is long enough to suit your frame size and stem height. Auction sites like eBay are probably your only chance.
Colnago build a very light and beautiful fork look like a Precisa out of Aluminium for the double down-tube Carbitubo – Have you investigate some info why they not recommend it for the C40 too and delivered it with steelmade Precisa instead ?
Hi Thomas, I don’t know much about the Carbitubo or the aluminium fork you have, but reading this article on a Carbitubo the author claims it was usually supplied with a Precisa. Are you sure the fork on your frame was originally supplied with the frame? Sometimes people swap out forks if the steerer tube is cut too short.