Colnago Nuovo Mexico Background
The Colnago Nuovo Mexico was released in the early 1980’s. It’s steel frame was constructed using a combination of Columbus SL and Record tubes and it was the first frame to feature Colnago’s iconic club shaped down tube as a result of 4 offset crimps being added to the down tube to improve frame stiffness. Interestingly the same tubes were used in the original Colnago Arabesque models.
The Nuovo Mexico is widely associated with Giuseppe (Beppe) Saronni and his successful Del Tongo team who raced on Colnago bikes. The Nuovo Mexico was no doubt instrumental in some of his victories which include the 1983 Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo.
The Nuovo Mexico was also the immediate predecessor to the Colnago Master which featured heavily sculpted Gilco 4 sided tubing which turned out to be the ultimate evolution in Colnago steel frame design. This tubing is still used in the modern Master and Arabesque frames which are still manufactured and sold by Colnago to present day (2020).
Why Restore a Nuovo Mexico?
My very first vintage bike build project was a 1984 first edition Colnago Master which I built with vintage Campagnolo Super Record. I thoroughly enjoyed building and riding this bike, so I was keen to start another project.
I initially wanted get hold of a Colnago Arabesque or Regal, but these frames are hard to find in a 57 frame size and there is also the matter of price! So I started searching for a different frame and discovered that there were a considerable number of models manufactured by Colnago over the years. This led to creation of my ‘How to Identify a Colnago Bike‘ series of articles.
After researching many different models and spending hours searching online for a frame that was my size, I came across a Nuovo Mexico frame for sale on E-bay. I decided to buy this frame as it ticked quite a few boxes for me;
- Nuovo Mexico was produced in limited numbers (only for a few years).
- Historically significant to the Colnago brand (as discussed above).
- The frame was in my size and looked to be in great condition.
- I wanted a frame that needed new paint and chrome restoration.
- Reputable reseller. Added bonus; came from the motherland (Italy)!
Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame Arrives
A few weeks after ordering the frame it arrived very well packaged, protected by a waterproof plastic wrap and plenty of Fragile warnings.
After carefully cutting all the zip ties and removing the foam packaging, I finally got to see the frame up close for the first time.
The Nuovo Mexico originally featured chrome plating on the forks, rear drop-outs and right side chain stay. It would also have been sold with a Colnago branded decal set. The seller advised that the frame was not the original paint and I bought it knowing that I would be restoring the frame. Interestingly the colour was very similar to what I actually wanted.
Removing the Old Paint from the Frame
Before I bought this frame I searched for some good bicycle frame painters in my area and discussed with them the best option for removing the paint. Initially I thought some kind of sand blasting process might be the quickest, but that was not recommended by my painter, so I used paint stripper.
I kitted myself out in old clothes and serious rubber gloves with eye protection and a face mask. After 4 to 5 hours (over 2 days), I was able to remove every trace of paint using paint stripper and a plastic scraper. It’s a messy job and some areas of the frame required several applications of paint stripper to clean off all the paint.
Raw Steel Nuovo Mexico Frame
To my great relief there were no patches or rust issues with the frame. Often if a frame has been repainted, this can be an attempt to cover repair work, but it was in brilliant original condition and a perfect candidate for a proper restoration.
Even my painter commented on the amazing condition of this frame and he has seen quite a few steel frames. When he examines an old steel frame, he typically sees a small dent in the top right side of the down tube, where the brake calliper has bashed into the side of the frame, but not on this frame.
Once the paint was removed it was possible to see the sections that had been originally chrome plated such as the rear drop-outs, front forks and right side chain stay. All as expected. What a wonderful patina you find under the paint on these old steel frames.
Article Continues on the Next Page
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article so far. Continue reading on the next page you can see the finished frame with new chrome, paint and decals.
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.
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.