How to Identify a Colnago C40 Frame (Second Version)

Colnago C40 Second Version
Colnago C40 Second Version (1997)

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 second version of the C40 frame that was sold for about 5 years (1997 to 2001, 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).

Colnago C40 frame tubes
Colnago C40 frame tubes
Colnago C40 Second Version down tube
Colnago C40 Second Version down tube
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes

The C40 logo was located at the top of the seat tube as shown in the following image.

Colnago C40 Second Version seat tube
Colnago C40 Second Version seat tube
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes

How to Identify the 2nd Version Frame

To quickly identify the second version of the C40 frame, check for these 2 things on the frame;

1. Look at the location of the shift cable stops on the frame. As shown in the below, the cable stops are located on the head tube lug unlike the first version frame which positioned the cable stops lower and on the down tube.

2. Look at the seat stays. They are traditional looking narrow seat stays, not the chunkier B-Stay’s which came later. Please refer to the image below.

Colnago C40 Second Version head tube lug
Colnago C40 Second Version.
Cable stops fitted to the head tube lug.
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes
Colnago C40 Second Version frame
Colnago C40 Second Version.
Thin seat stays, not B-Stays.
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes

New Features of the 2nd Version Frame

The second version of the C40 frame received some notable updates which include;

  • New Ace of Clubs logo carved into the top of the head tube lug (just like their steel bikes).
  • The chain stays have a higher profile than the first version. Presumably to enhance stiffness.
  • Whilst it is not mentioned in the Colnago catalog, I have read that the down tube on the second version C40 flares out wider where it meets the bottom bracket. The first version down tube had a constant diameter. This is a little tricky to see in the photos.
C40 Second Version new features
Colnago Catalog 1997 – C40 Second Version – New Features
Colnago C40 Second Version bottom bracket
Colnago C40 Second Version bottom bracket.
Higher profile chain stays. Non-replaceable rear derailleur hanger.
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes
Colnago C40 Second Version frame with club cut-out
Colnago C40 Second Version frame.
Features Ace of Clubs symbol on top of head tube lug.

Carbon Star Fork is Released

Colnago finally released it’s carbon forks (Star and Force models) somewhere between the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Up until this point, the second version of the C40 was sold with a steel Precisa fork or possibly a Time ‘Colnago’ carbon fork. Once Colnago released it’s own carbon forks, I believe the customer could order either the Star fork or Force fork, depending on their budget and preference.

Colnago Carbon Star fork
Colnago Carbon Star fork
Image courtesy of Steel Vintage bikes

C40 Gold – Limited Edition Bike

This limited edition bike is built from the second version C40 frame and was listed in a Colnago catalog (circa 2000). In the top paragraph it explains that only 400 were produced. This model was supplied with the new Colnago Star carbon fork.

Colnago C40 Gold limited edition bike
Colnago C40 Gold limited edition bike.

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.

17 thoughts on “How to Identify a Colnago C40 Frame (Second Version)

  • Hi

    Great site – can you confirm if the C40 was produced in ST02 colour scheme.



    • Thanks Jon, I had a look through my collection of Colnago catalogs (up to 2006) and saw no mention of the colour code ST02. I think that paint scheme first appears on the C50 in their 2008 catalog

  • Buonasera sono in possesso di una Colnago c40 prima serie con tubi tondi,acquista di secondo mano, e sta riverniciata essendo stata di proprietà di una squadra corse, qualcuno mi può dare informazioni perché non ha il classico tubo stellare.
    Grazie mille

    Translated to English:

    Good evening I am in possession of a Colnago c40 first series with round tubes, buy it second hand, and it is repainted having been owned by a racing team, someone can give me information because it does not have the classic stellar tube. Thanks so much.

    • I Guiseppe, when researching the C40 on the internet, there is mention of an earlier carbon lugged frame with round carbon tubes rather than the Master profile tubes usually found on the C40. I found not documentation for this early frame.

  • This is an excellent website, and I appreciate the research that has gone into it. In addition to my own c. 1985 Colnago Super or Mexico (nobody is sure!), I am looking at a C40 for sale and was puzzled by the fork. Thanks to you I now know it is a Gen. 2 frame and the fork is the Time carbon (marked “Colnago Carbon”). I suspect that many collectors don’t actually ride their bikes but I find the high-end bikes from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s are superb and I enjoy mine on the road as much as possible. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for your kind comments. Glad to hear you found the information useful and the C40 is definately a nice addition to the fleet! Glad to hear you are out on the road enjoying the bike as well.

  • Here I am, back again. Well, I blame you, M. Rouleur, for me finally taking the plunge and getting that second generation Colnago C40, which I have upgraded somewhat with new wheels (Campagnolo Zondas), NOS Chorus 9-speed shifters, new cables, etc. It is an exceptional bicycle to ride in terms of how smooth it is but I was surprised by how fast it descends, as if on rails. On my third ride, I did one of our local hills and almost immediately was pushing 70 km/h. I believe my bicycle has the AD10 design (although I don’t have a 1998 catalogue) and the Time Stiletto fork. I may change the ITM stem to a “Colnago” branded one but otherwise I look forward to just enjoying this marvel for years to come. Thanks again for the helpful content of this website.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for sharing your story and glad to hear you were not disappointed after taking the plunge (to buy a C40 and then descend at 70 km/h)! Sounds like you added some nice components to this bike.

  • hi, enjoyed your compilation of C40 variants. I have a nagging desire for a C40 and found one. One thing I noted viewing pics of the frame for sale is the decal style departs from the “normal” C40 2nd version as there is no “Ace” card logo on the toptube. It does have tne Star fork, is black with yellow decals, but yellow striping where the other models have a different decal scheme. Not sure if I should be put off by this? Def looks original, with a white “Warning” sticker below the front derailleur hanger. Comments? Thanks!
    Robin USA

    • Hi Robin, the C40 was definitely available in a lot of different paint schemes. I guess you should try to get a frame in the paint scheme you prefer, but the condition of the frame is always the most important factor. If you post a link to the frame in the comments, we can look at it. Essentially if the frame has the correct tube and lug shapes of a C40, it is probably not a copy. You could ask the owner if they have any original paperwork. I think the Chinese copies of premium Italian frames started in more recent times (maybe 2010+).

      • hi! thank you for the reply. here is the link:

        i dont notice a “Ace of clubs” engraved on the head tube lug, but it could be a late series 2? i note the series 3 B-stay does not have the logo engraved on this lug (?). thanks again. i did pose a Q to the seller but has not replied. i will try again!

        • Hi Robin, photos aren’t the best, but definitely looks like the second edition C40 with the shift cable stop mounted on the head tube lug. He is also selling a first version C40 in a larger frame size so you see the difference in cable stop location. Bike includes the Star carbon fork which is really nice and I like you can see the carbon weave of the frame. Hard to tell if the Ace of Clubs logo is on the head tube lug or not. If it isn’t there, not an issue I would say. Just make sure you can get a 28mm seat post and 1″ stem or adapter. Good luck with the bidding and enjoy this piece of cycling history.

  • Hi Rouler,
    Another question!
    What length axle spindle do i need to use a standard Campay SR 42/52 crankset with a Dura Ace 8-speed front derailleur? I found two nice Edco BBs, one 114mm and the other 116mm.
    Not sure how much clearance i need to the front derail can retract enough to drop onto the 42. Nobody on my bike forums seem to know. 2nd ed C40 frame!

    • Hi Robin, It’s a tricky question for sure.
      1. I assume you mean a vintage 1980’s Campagnolo SR chain set which can work with 6/7/8 spd chains.
      2. I have not mixed & matched Campagnolo chain sets with Shimano front derailleurs, so I guess the first question is if that pairing will work OK? I assume the Shimano chain rings (that match the 8 speed front derailleur) are spaced the same as the Campagnolo chain rings?
      3. If they parts will work together, then typically, the bottom bracket axle length and design is determined by the chain set you want to use in order to get the correct chain line and not related to the front derailleur. If you measure the width of your C40 bottom bracket, it should be 70mm, so assuming you are using a vintage Campagnolo chain set, hopefully my Vintage Campagnolo Super Record Bottom Bracket Review will help you choose the correct BB size for that chain set. You will also notice that there is a slight difference in the length of protruding axle on each side of the BB, so it needs to be installed in the correct orientation. Good luck!

  • Bonjour, pouvez-vous m’aider à identifier ce c50. Mk1 or mk2 ?
    Je peux vous joindre les photos par mail. En attendant votre aide.

    Hello, can you help me identify this c50. Mk1 or mk2?
    I can send you the photos by email. Waiting for your help.

  • Hi,
    Thank you for the great amount of useful information! I’ve been able to identify a frame by these above. One thing is unclear however and can’t seem to find any info on the web regarding the “Top Tube Man”. On a Mk3 C40 frame he has one of his arm raised as a victory celebration, and heard a rumour that it has to do something with a certain race win, or number of wins, but nothing more solid. Can you give any detail on this?
    Thank you,

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