How to identify a Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral

Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral circa 1989
Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral (circa 1989).

Colnago were always experimenting with different tube profiles to increase frame stiffness or improve aerodynamics. Many models were released with crimped or ribbed tubes with the aim of improving stiffness.

In 1988 Colnago released the Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral bicycle which featured a unique cone shaped down tube that was wider at the bottom bracket than the head tube. This cone shaped down tube design is commonly seen in modern frame design.

Whilst the early model of the Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral was shown in the catalogue with traditional curved forks, later models were shown with the new Colnago Precisa straight leg steel fork. The Precisa fork was another of Colnago’s many innovations in the bicycle industry and this design improved ride quality over traditional curved forks.

Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral frameset curved forks
Early version of the Conic featured traditional curved fork.
Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral frameset straight forks
Later versions of the Conic featured Precisa straight fork.

Special features of a Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral.

This frame was built using Columbus Conic SLX Total Spiral tubes which were designed exclusively for use by Colnago. Whilst the name of this model is not very catchy, you can see where it originated from. This frame is easy to identify by measuring the down tube which starts with a diameter of 28.2mm at the head tube and increases to a diameter of 32mm at the bottom bracket (hence the conical description).

Early versions of this frame featured a conventional round tube profile, whilst later versions featured a crimped down tube which featured fluted crimps in the lower end of the down tube to provide extra stiffness.

Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral conical down tube
The special feature of this frame is the conical shaped down
tube with fluted crimps in the lower half.

Other features of this model.

Here are some photos showing the general features of the Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral frame. You may also notice that the frame in these photo’s is fitted with a modern 11 speed Campagnolo groupset, this highlights the versatility of these vintage frames. Images courtesy of

Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral catalouge page (circa 1988)
Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral catalouge page (circa 1988)

Colnago Literature.

The following websites have a large selection scanned Colnago literature including reviews, catalogues and brochures.

Article References.

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


Please remember that this information is only to be used as a guide.
I consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. The information I have presented in this article is based on my many hours of online research.

In addition, there will always be frames that don’t quite match the characteristics of a particular model as they could have been a custom build, prototype etc. Note: forks can also be swapped between different frames.

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.

11 thoughts on “How to identify a Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral

  • Some comic spiral frames have the rear brake cable entering from above and some under top tube,was this to do with the particular year,as I’m trying to date my own frame which has brake cable entering from top,your advise would be appreciated please.

    • I believe internal cable routing in the top tube was an option when ordering a custom frame on some models, whilst for other models it was a standard feature.

    • I have both early and later frames, the early has the rear cable entering the top of the top tube, the later it’s underneath the top tube.

  • The internally routed brake cable was standard on my 1992 Spiral Conic painted in Team Buckley colors, bought from Colorado Cyclist.

  • Hi, I wonder if you could help me identify this Colnago mystery frame. Master style top and down tube with a round seat tube – Please see pics on my Flicker Album (link below). Originally purchased bare metal off ebay the seller assumed it was a Tecnos because of the round seat tube and which I took at face value and so I put Tecnos decals and appropriate Columbus frame transfer on it during the respray. BTW at this point I want to point out that the bare metal revealed no hint of the seat tube having been replaced as all the joins were identical and the brazing the same colour and patination throughout, even the filing was uniform.
    Now after seeing many Tecnos frames since then it’s obvious the tubing is very different. It has closer similarities with the Spiral Conic though the lugs and bottom bracket are different, more like a Master Piu. And the down tube is not crimped at the bottom. Any ideas?

    • Hi Martin,
      I have spent some time looking into this frame (nice looking bike).

      The style of lugs, second water bottle cage mount and Precisa forks on this frame indicate that it is from the 90’s. My guides only cover frames manufactured up to the end of the 1980’s which is why it didn’t match any of those models. However, by looking at the images, I don’t think it is a Tecnos either. Your frame looks more like a custom build. Master top & down tubes with a round seat tube. If it were a race bike, chances are it was custom made to suit a specific rider.

      However you can check for yourself, according to a 1996 Colnago catalogue the Tecnos frame has the following characteristics;
      Down tube: biconical square tubing starting with 28.6mm diameter at the head tube increasing to 35mm diameter in the center, ending with 32mm diameter at the bottom bracket shell.
      Top tube: biconical diameter of 25.4mm at either end, 28.6mm diameter in the centre.

      • Thanks for the reply and spending the time looking into my frame specs. Your conclusion confirms what I have been thinking for a while now.
        I should have been a bit more patient before slapping Tecnos decals on it.
        I’m also thinking of putting a standard quill stem ( I have a black 3ttt with Colnago Panto) to replace the Ahead which looks slightly awkward but is nice and stiff.

        • Hi Martin, its pretty easy to remove decals with a hair dryer to warm up the glue, just take your time.
          Quill stems work fine, they are just a bit more fiddly to remove. Make sure your quill stem correctly matches the diameter of your hand bars as there were quite a few different sizes back in the day. 3ttt and Cinelli had slightly different diameters.

  • i enjoyed the sprint through this article. I have a slx conic total spiral, mine is an early model with no crimping in the downtube but same dimensions, 28.2 to 32mm, brake cable is on tube of top tube, rh chain stay chromed, original parts have been changed out, not by me, except for the seatpost, cinelli stem and bars. wheels were upgraded to Campy Atlanta ’96.

    • Hi Terry, thanks for your comments. I have updated the article regarding early models not having any crimping in the down tube. Thanks.

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