Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

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.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico diagram
The red lines in this diagram represents the crimp in the top tube and dual offset crimps in the down tube.

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.

Bike Box
Package arrives from Italy – Very Exciting!
Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame Wrapped
Colnago Nuovo Mexico frame wrapped in protective foam tubing.
You can see the forks are also wrapped and tied to the frame.
A piece of time was fitted between the rear chain stays.

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.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame Unpackaged
Colnago Nuovo Mexico frame unpackaged

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.

Unpainted Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame
Raw Colnago Nuovo Mexico frame

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.

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.

8 thoughts on “Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

  • Bonjour,
    je vous remercie beaucoup, pour vos articles que je trouve intéressants. J ‘y recueille de nombreuses informations qui me sont très utiles, ceux-ci sont concis, et très instructifs pour un profane.
    Merci, et continuez.

    [Translated by Google Translate to:
    Hello, thank you very much for your articles which I find interesting. I collect a lot of information there which is very useful to me, it is concise, and very informative for a layman. Thanks, and carry on. Cordially. Jean-Paul]

    • Hi, Jean-Paul,

      Thanks for your comments, it’s great you have found the information in the article useful. Regards.

  • I Really find it helpful how we can restore our Old bike the information you have provided is very good and easily understandable by novice Users.

  • Bonjour,
    un super site qui me donne des idées.
    J’ai dans mon garage mon vélo de jeunesse qui ne demande qu’à être restauré. D’après mes recherches c’est un nuovo mexico 83, il a 1 seul sertissage de chaque côté sur le tube diagonal. Il a pas mal de rouille, j’ai fait la bêtise de m’en servir sur un home trainer. Il a été repeint il y a 30 ans. Il est équipé d’un groupe campa record C des années 87-88 avec freins delta mais j’ai encore le groupe d’origine super record pantographié colnago. Du bonheur en perspective !

    In English:
    Hello, a great site that gives me ideas.
    I have my youth bike in my garage which is just waiting to be restored. According to my research it is a nuovo mexico 83, it has only 1 crimp on each side on the down tube. It has a lot of rust, I made the mistake of using it on a home trainer. It was repainted 30 years ago. It is equipped with a campa record C groupset from the years 87-88 with delta brakes but I still have the original super record groupset pantographed colnago. Happiness in perspective!

    • Hi Philippe, sounds like a perfect restoration project, hopefully the rust is not too bad. Definately a frame worth restoring and enjoying. Colnago frames with a single crimp on down tube are sometimes identified as either a Super Profil or 1st version Colnago Nuovo Mexico as referenced in this article. Best of luck with the project.

  • I came upon your interesting and informative site while researching the Colnago Superissimo (thanks for that article!). I’m not sure why on this page you referred, a couple of times, to the “front forks” on a Nuovo Mexico. There is only one FORK on a bicycle, and it is on the front. The fork of a bicycle, looks just like a tuning fork (not called “tuning forks”, after all, unless you have more than one), with a handle and two tines, like the steerer and blades of a bicycle fork!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.