This article is only part of my ULTIMATE GUIDE to the Colnago C40 which I recommend you start reading first. This guide includes a lot of information about this legendary frame such as;
- An overview of the Colnago carbon bikes that preceded the C40.
- The brief history of the C40 including major race wins.
- Discussion of the C40 lugs and how the frame was assembled.
- How to identify the different versions of the C40.
- The different forks that were supplied with the C40 over the years.
- Frame geometry and build specifications.
The Colnago C40 was manufactured for approximately 10 years (1994 – 2004) and over that time, 4 different versions of the frame were released. This article discusses the first version (original) C40 frame that was sold for about 4 years (1994 to 1997, dates are approximate).
General Features of a C40 Frame
All 4 versions of the C40 frame were made from carbon tubes and carbon lugs. They were not a monocoque design, which has a flowing style – like modern carbon frames. The top tube and down tube featured a distinctive 4 sided Master profile as shown in the images below. The majority of C40 frames were built using traditional geometry (that has a horizontal top tube). However in 2001, their catalog listed sloping geometry for the small frames sizes (46,47,48).
The C40 logo was located at the top of the seat tube as shown in the following image.
How to Identify the 1st Version Frame
It is actually quite easy to identify the first version of the C40 frame by looking at the location of the shift cable stops on the frame. The photo below shows that the cable stops are located on the down tube below the head tube lug. On later versions of the C40 frame, the cable stops are mounted up higher on the actual head tube lug.
General Features of the 1st Version Frame
General features of the 1st version frame are visible in this 1995 Colnago catalog page. The features to note are;
- The first version of the C40 was sold with a steel Precisa fork, which was updated for the 1995 model. Read more about different versions of the Precisa fork. Note: Prior to the release of Colnago’s own carbon forks (around 2000), some early model C40’s were sold with Time ‘Colnago’ carbon forks, just not exactly sure when that commenced.
- First version chain stays are fairly slender in comparison to later versions of the frame.
- The seat stays join the seat tube lug at separate locations. Very different to the B-Stay design used for the 3rd and 4th version frames.
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.
6 thoughts on “How to Identify a Colnago C40 Frame (First Version)”
I just unearthed my 2 decade old C40 which was out of sight and mind for that long. Thanks to this, I learnt much more than my vague memory constitutes. And yes, mine’s this first version. Nostalgic.
Hi Joe, glad to hear the aticle was of help. Hope it is still working you can get it out for a nice ride
Now here is a puzzlement! I thought that I had purchased a Gen 2 C40 but on closer examination it is actually a Gen 1, given the location of the cable stops. I am quite certain the fork is a Time Stiletto, marked up as a Colnago. The bike is definitely a C40, given the Master-profile tubing, the carbon lugs and that strange 28 mm seatpost, but now I am a bit puzzled by the paint scheme. It is similar to the Art Decor AD10, with the little cyclist viewed from the top, that is shown on your pages here. However, someone on the Colnago World Facebook page believes this is not the original paint. That could be the case but if so it is pretty much perfect. With the catalogues that you have was this kind of paint scheme available for the Gen 1 bikes? I have been unable to locate a serial number anywhere, which is not a great sign, but if it is a Chinese knock-off it is a masterpiece!
Hi Leslie, if you look at the image at the top of my page How to identify a Colnago C40 frame (first version), I believe you will see the small cyclist painted on the top tube in a colour scheme similar to AD10. This bike was for sale by Steel Vintage in Germany whom are a reputable vintage bike dealer. I’m fairly sure they would be able to spot a fake.
It is always possible to repaint a frame, but with the amount of detail in these old paint schemes, it would be a costly exercise and I would suspect most people would respray with a simpler and cheaper one or two colour design. I also doubt there are Chinese copies of the Colnago C40, I think this problem started with more modern Colnago C series frames… like maybe the C60 onward? Hopefully this will help to resolve your dilemma.
Thank you for the reassurance! 😁 I have since found two more Gen 1 bikes online that have the same paint scheme. I have also found the serial number (if that is what it is) on the right rear dropout.
I have to agree that repainting a bike in this extremely elaborate paint scheme would be very hard and expensive. I believe these were all air-brushed by hand and are really beautiful. Also finding carbon tubes in the Gilco profile would be very difficult.
Again, thanks for the comment and the excellent website. By the way, if you find yourself in Berlin you have to visit Steel Vintage Bikes. There are actually at least three stores in the city selling vintage bikes.
Hi Leslie, great to hear you were able to find further supporting evidence to prove your frame is indeed original. Serial number on right rear dropout matches the location of markings on Colnago’s vintage steel frames.
I will definitely visit Steel Vintage bikes when I visit Berlin. I regularly browse their website and it is filled with lots of amazing bikes.
Glad to hear you found the information on this website helpful to identify your Colnago C40 frame. No doubt the bike will be a pleasure to ride.