Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration (Part 2)

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

Welcome to part 2 of my Colnago Nuovo Mexico restoration. In the previous parts I have discussed the following parts of this restoration;

Frame Restoration Choices

Once the frame was stripped back to it’s raw steel finish, the first big question; do I restore the frame with an original paint scheme or do I paint it in a completely different style? What type of decals will be fitted? What colour will it be? Which tubes will be chrome plated?

Unpainted Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame
Unpainted Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame

These are all tough choices and make a big difference to how the bike will look when it is completed, as well as the overall cost. Whilst a custom paint job was tempting, I really like the original paint scheme(s) and bold white Colnago decals. When you look back at some of the bright fluro paint schemes from the 1980’s, the early Nuovo Mexico paint scheme(s) were classic and look retro-cool some 36 years later.

Chrome Plating Decisions

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Fork
Colnago Nuovo Mexico Fork
with new chrome plating.

I decided to chrome plate the frame in the same way it had been originally; right side chain stay, both rear drop-outs and the front fork.

Chrome plating is quite a time intensive process and requires the steel tubes to be perfectly polished before undergoing several rounds of electro plating with polishing between rounds.

Something I learnt from my painter was the tubes in these vintage frames are thin, so the polishing needs to be performed more gently than something like car parts which are made from heavier gauge steel. Also you don’t want them polishing out the small details on the frame. It’s a job for a specialist.

Selecting a Paint Colour

As I decided to re-create the original paint scheme of the Nuovo Mexico, I only had to choose one paint colour. Most vintage Colnago fans would know of a colour called ‘Saronni Red’. This amazing colour is was named after Giuseppe Saronni who rode red Colnago bikes for the Del Tongo team. I recently read on a blog that ‘Sarroni Red’ was painted using a 2 step painting process. The frame is first sprayed in metallic silver, then it is sprayed with a red-tinted clear coat. The end result is a deep red metallic finish. My painter simply referred to this colour as ‘candy red’.

Campagnolo Super Record Headset on Colnago
My 1984 Colnago Master – original paint – Saronni Red.

Whilst I love ‘Saronni Red’, my Colnago Master pictured above (of a similar era) is already painted this colour. I didn’t want both my vintage bikes to be the same colour, so I decided to paint it blue. I’ve never owned a blue bike before, so it’s a nice change.

Of course that simple decision became far more complicated when the painter pulled out 5 books of colour swatches with every imaginable shade of blue including variations of flat, satin, gloss and metallic finishes. After an hour of going back and forth, I finally selected the ‘0008 Blue Mic 2ct’ paint swatch which is a metallic finish, but my painter only used this swatch as a guide and went on to create a similar color by mixing his own paints. He called the end result ‘Candy Blue’.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Paint Swatch
Sample of some metallic paint swatches, unfortunately I do not have the name of the color book.

Historically, blue and red are significant colour’s for Colnago race bikes of the early 1980’s. I saw a photo of Freddy Maertens bike in the Colnago museum (beside Saronni’s bike). Maertens won the 1981 World Championships outsprinting Saronni to second place that year on a blue Colnago Mexico according to Colnago’s website. The following year Saronni won the 1982 World Championships riding his red Colnago Super Profil. As the Nuovo Mexico was actually the ‘New Mexico’, blue seemed a perfect choice.

Colnago Mexico - Freddy Maertens 1981
1981 Colnago Mexico – Freddy Maertens World Champs Bike.
Image courtesy of Colnago Website

When the Nuovo Mexico first appeared in the Colnago catalogue, it was blue also as pictured below.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico catalogue page (circa 1983)
Colnago Nuovo Mexico catalogue page (circa 1983)

Selecting the Decals

I really like Colnago’s original decal set for bikes of the early 1980’s which was commonly seen on the Super and Nuovo Mexico models. It features the rainbow bands as Colnago bikes have won multiple World Championship wins. The white background also contrasts beautifully with the blue paint I had chosen. Thankfully there are a number of people selling high quality reproductions of nearly all the Colnago decals produced over the years. The decal supplier I used allows you to mix ‘n’ match decals from any of the sets and sizes. They can even create new decals to match any existing decal you need to replace.

Colnago Decal Set
Colnago Decal Set (Modern Reproduction)

Restored Nuovo Mexico Frame

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame
Restored Colnago Nuovo Mexico frame with new paint, chrome plating and decals.

I am really happy with the finished result. The large white decals look amazing on the blue and the metallic finish really sparkles in the sun. The fresh chrome plating makes this 36 year old frame look like brand new again.

Article Continues on the Next Page

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article so far. On the next page you can read about the components I have purchased for this frame.


I hope you found this article interesting. I have listed the following website pages as general references.

Freddy Maertens 1981 World Championship bike
Information about the Saronni Red colour


Please remember that this information is only to be used as a guide.
I consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. Whilst I enjoy working on my own bikes, I am not a qualified bicycle mechanic. The content of this article is purely illustrative and does not constitute professional advice. For your own safety, this type of work should only be undertaken by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Incorrect assembly of parts could result in equipment damage, personal injury or death.

About Me.

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.

16 thoughts on “Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration (Part 2)

  • Think this is a really interesting article, enjoying reading it.
    Question, well two actually, both related

    How come you didnt re-chrome the lugs on the head tube?

    And (related)

    How come you didnt chrome the seat stays? Would have looked fabulous

    • Hi Andrew, thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.
      I completely agree that the frame would look even better with your chrome plating suggestions.
      In fact, it would match the frame pictured in the Colnago brochure I included in the article.

      In answer to your questions, there are a few reasons I didn’t go down that path.
      1. I decided to keep the frame original, so I only chrome plated the areas to match how it left the factory.
      2. It’s more expensive to chrome plate extra parts.
      3. My Colnago Master has chrome plated seat stays, so I prefer the bikes to be a bit different.
      4. I was also mindful that the Nuovo Mexico was built from a combination of (thicker) Columbus SL and (thinner) Record tubes. Unfortunately I don’t know which tubes are Columbus Record tubes. As chrome plating can require heavy polishing, I wouldn’t want to risk making already thin tubes, thinner.

  • I loved the detailed layout of your restoration process. I too am restoring an older frame and considering I am completely new to the process, I was hoping you could share some knowledge with me. I stumbled upon an older track frame on craigslist being listed for only $75.oo USD. I had enough spare components lying around that I pulled the trigger and bought the frame. The original paint had been stripped long ago and was now simply bare metal and clear coated. After returning home and further inspecting my new purchase, I felt I may have just acquired a pretty unique frame. Two months later, and following multiple bicycle frame builder blog posts, it was determined I had unknowingly purchased a late 1960’s Chas Roberts Cycles Track Frame (serial # 414). I have been in communication with those still answering emails for the now-folded frame builder as well as former Roberts mechanics. They have agreed in the frame providence and led me to the decision, this bike needed to be restored. I have planned out the process, ordered as many period-correct components as possible, and will soon be taking the frame in for powder coating. Taking the advice of the former Roberts Cycles employees, I contacted a company that specializes in high-quality reproductions of the Roberts Decal. Up until now, the company had only produced reproductions of the decals used on bikes manufactured after the mid-1970s. Using the few photos available of frames produced around the same era, I have recreated the decal and the supplier has agreed to have them made for me. My question to you is… When in the process should the decals be applied to the frame? I plan to have the current clear coat stripped, cleaned, powder-coated, and finally clear coated. Should the decals be added to the frame pre or post clearcoat? And I apologize if this is a stupid question, but I have scoured articles and blog posts, but cannot seem to get an answer. Neither the company supplying the decals nor the powder coater has responded to my inquiry on this. Since you have obviously done this yourself, could you please answer this for me? Thank you so much and congratulations on such a beautiful restoration. I can only hope that mine will turn out half as good.

    • Hi Berkley, thanks for your kind words. Whilst I am not familiar with the brand, it sounds like you have a great restoration project on your hands and I wish you well in your endeavour. All that research, time and effort spent will create a pretty special bike by the end of it all.

      In answer to your question, my understanding with vintage frames was decals were applied to the finished paint surface. If you want to protect the decals from wear & tear, apply a clear coat over the top. It will depend on you if you want to be traditional or practical and what kind of wear and tear the bike will experience. You can always purchase several sets of decals to keep a replacement set for the future. My steel bikes are fair weather rides only, I’m careful with the decals when cleaning them, they don’t have high wear and tear so the decals will last a long time.

      More interestingly is the choice to powder coat the frame vs spraying it. If the people you contacted say the original frames were power coated then that is the way to go, otherwise I’d probably have the frame sprayed as I consider this is a more traditional paint finish.

  • Good day🙂
    I have just purchased a supposedly 1983 Mexico frame and will restore it more or less to the same extent that you have – so thank you so much for sharing all your information.
    Would it be possible to have the details of vendor of the decals?

    • Thanks & congratulations Henrik, sounds like a great project ahead. These projects usually throw up a few challenges along the way, but when the bike comes together it is certainly very satisfying. I get my decals from Cyclomondo. Cheers!

  • Hallo, with great entousiasm i´m reading your article. Actually, i´m working on a same Colnago frame. Could you please share some more details on the paint “0008 Blue Mic 2ct”. I can´t find details anywhere on the net. I presume that its from a specific car paint. Can you share the car type of color-book you selected. Thanks.

    • Hi Andre, thanks for your comments. Regarding the paint color, I initially found about 10 to 15 different colour samples of metallic blue from about 4 different colour books. But to be honest, they were all quite similar. I finally selected ‘0008 Mic 2ct’ as my preference, but then the painter just used the sample as a reference and created a similar result using his own paints and experience. Paint selection is always tricky because the actual result can look different from the sample. If you want some sparkle, you probably can’t go wrong with quite a variety of different metallic blues. It comes down to your own preference for depth of shade. Enjoy the project.

      • You are right, color samples can really look same with minor differences.
        I have the frame bare steel, so can’t analyse the blue color anymore 🙁
        Coming back to the code “0008 Mic 2ct”, could you please indicate from what swatch it came?
        Just like you did, I typically select a color from a paint swatch and then order the paint from our local car paint shop, but they don’t know this code “0008 Mic 2ct”, unless i can tell them something more like car manufacturer or paint supplier. THx 🙂

        • Hi Andre, unfortunately I don’t know as it was the painter’s colour book and I only took a photo of the swatch, not the name of the book. Since then the painter has moved so I am no longer in contact with him. This swatch is not an official Colnago vintage blue, it was just a colour I picked. The painter then mixed up his own version of the colour based on that sample. I told him that I wanted a blue version of Saronni red (which has a deep glossy metallic finish). Maybe you can find a modern car in a blue you like and order the touch-up paint? 🙂

  • Hi, I bought a Colnago Super Mexico in Saronni red 1986. I imported the frame from a Colnago dealer in Belgium, and had Mike Perry at Wielersport equip it with Campag Super-Record. One thing I noticed was that it was laquered over the top of the decals, which looked really good.

    A couple of years later I bought another Colnago Master from a dealer in London (who I won’t name) but this time the decals were applied on top of the lacquer, which just didn’t look right.

    I’ve always been suspicious of the later frame, because I thought Colnago always applied the laquer after the decals. Are my suspicions justifed, and it’s not a genuine Colnago at all but a cheap copy?

    Any ideas?

    Thanks, Bill Johnstone

    • Hi Bill, that is a very good question. I have spoken with a collector of prestige vintage Colnago bikes and he has confirmed my belief that decals were applied to painted frames with NO clear coat covering in the factory. So the decals were not protected under clear coat. I generally try not to rely on decals to authenticate Colnago frames. The stampings and tube shapes are a better indicator.

      • Hi, Thanks for the reply.

        I found this Youtube video made in the Colnago factory. You may have seen it?

        If you zip forward to 4.49, they talk of the final stage being to laquer the frame over the top of the decals.

        Of course, that may not be how they did it back in the 80’s, but I’m still convinced that unlike my Super Mexico, my Master was not a genuine Colnago. Unfortunately both frames are long gone now and I cannot check the stampings, so I guess I’ll never know!

        All the best,

        Bill Johnstone

        • Hi Bill, yes I have seen the video a few times with the decals on Colnago modern frames covered with a clear coat which really helps with durability. I’m not 100% sure why the decals were applied without a clear coat covering in the past, but apart from simplicity / time saving, there is probably also some differences in modern clear coats and decal construction materials and inks compared to the 1970’s / 80’s.

          I recently restored a Colnago Nuovo Mexico and the painter offered to clear coat the decals, but I chose the traditional method and just apply them onto the finished paint. Just need to be a bit more careful when cleaning or handling the frame.

  • Great story! The Colnago Mexico is an important frame in road cycling history and deciding to restore vs preserve one is a tough decision. You truly did this one justice and it turned out quite beautiful! I would love to hear what it’s been through since you published this. Until this story that includes a catalogue page for reference, I had not seen one with the “Colnago Mexico” decal on the chainstay. I’ve seen the decals for sale but wondered if they were an after market invention due to the prestige that now surrounds this frame. I’m curious why you did not add this decal to yours?

    • Hi Trent. Thanks for reading my article and posting a comment. In answer to your questions, I’ve been riding and enjoying the bike, but I only ride it on Super Sunny Sundays. The bike rides very well and is a conversation starter with other cyclists out on the road. It’s smooth and quiet and you can get some pace up on the flat roads. Stable and predictable handling. It feels very similar to the Colnago Master frame of the same era.

      I have seen the Colnago Mexico chain stay decal that you mentioned. I believe this decal was only applied to the original 1970’s Colnago Mexico frame. I don’t think they were applied to the Colnago Nuovo Mexico frame as standard, but they do look nice!

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