The Colnago Superissimo bicycle was first released in 1982, built with the same Columbus SL tubes as the Colnago Super, however the Colnago Superissimo featured chrome plated head tube lugs as shown in this image below.
According to a later Colnago catalogue (circa 1986), a second version of the Colnago Superissimo was released featuring a new frame built using Columbus SLX tubing, whilst the Colnago Super was still manufactured with regular Columbus SL tubing. Both Columbus SL and SLX tubes were made from double-butted Cyclex CroMo steel however, the SLX tubes featured helicoidal reinforcement ribs in the end of each tube. They were a new design to add more stiffness to the bottom bracket and designated for use in professional race bikes.
General Identification Process.
Identifying a first version Colnago Superissimo (1982 onward).
As the Colnago Superissimo is a variation of the Colnago Super, you first need to make sure the bike matches the characteristics of a Colnago Super. This article on How to identify a Colnago Super can help. If the frame matches the characteristics of an early 1980’s Colnago Super and the paint looks original and the head tube lugs are chrome, chances are this is a Colnago Superissimo. If the frame has been repainted, then the head tube lugs could have also been chromed to replicate the Colnago Superissimo.
Identifying a second version Colnago Superissimo (1986 onward).
Refer to images below in regards to the following details;
1. Colnago stampings on top of bottom bracket.
2. SLX stamp on rear drive side drop-out.
3. Or you can visually inspect the inside of the bottom bracket and/or feel the ends of the down tube & seat tube searching for any helicoidal reinforcement bands. If they are present, then the frame is constructed with SLX tubing and is most probably a Colnago Superissimo.
Note: If the downtube is not round and you find helicoidal reinforcement bands inside the bottom bracket. Then the frame is most likely a Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral, which was released a few years later in 1988.
What came after the Colnago Superissimo SLX?
If you search Google, you will find lots of posts listing Superissimo frames made with Columbus Brain tubing. All of the photos of these bikes feature chrome head tube lugs.
Thanks to the work of a generous contributor (from the comments section below), I was advised that the Colnago Superissimo was listed in the 1996 Colnago catalogue of which I didn’t have a copy until now.
I have included a picture of the 1996 catalogue page below in which the Colnago Superissimo frame was made from Columbus BRAIN tubing (expressly made for Colnago). The frame is described as having the following features;
- Rear brake cable routed internally through the top tube.
- Water bottle cage bosses on the seat tube (as well as down tube).
- Fork crown & lugs from the Colnago Master.
- Investment cast fork crown, bottom bracket shell and drop outs.
- Precisa straight leg front fork.
- Chrome plated front fork, head lugs and drive side chain stay.
If you are still not sure at this point, you may have to rely on any decals attached to the frame. I don’t normally recommend this method as decals can be bought online and easily applied to ANY frame. Either way, you should at least know by now if the frame is in the Super family.
Colnago frames that look like a Superissimo
There are probably quite a lot of Colnago frames that are being incorrectly identified as a Colnago Superissimo. It’s easy to see why. Most people think a Colnago steel frame with round tubes (like a Super) and chromed head tube lugs is a Superissimo. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Looking through my Colnago catalogs (from late 1980’s), chrome plated head tube lugs actually became the norm. As you can see below, Colnago released a range of models that looked like Superissimo’s, but were different. There may be additional models that are not listed here..
Released in the 1994 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Colnago Super Piu
Also released in the 1994 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Also released in the 1996 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs. Released in the same year as what looks like the last model of the Superissimo.
Released in the 1997 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs, but special metal used in tubing.
Released in the 2004 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Colnago & Columbus Literature.
The following websites have a large selection scanned Colnago literature including reviews, catalogues and brochures.
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.
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.
21 thoughts on “How to identify a Colnago Superissimo”
I’ve had a red Colnago frame in my closet since 2005. Bought it on Ebay and the guy wasn’t sure of the model, and I never ended up doing anything with it.
It has round tubes, but otherwise has the features of a Master Piu (Chromed headtube lugs, same shape and stamps), same seat stays and seat tube lug (with clover stamp) and same bottom bracket, with clover stamp on top and the word COLNAGO stamped on bottom. Also has one chrome chain stay.
I’ve seen pictures on online that suggest a Superissimo SLX from the 1990s, but from what I can tell, the tubes in this one do not have the spiral reinforcing inside.
If it has all round tubes it is likely to be in the Super family. There were many versions of the Super released beyond the 1980’s and chrome head lugs appeared to be the standard for these frames. Is there any Columbus label on the seat tube? Does it say Brain or Thron tubing?
might be a colnago elegant
I found Colnago catalog from 1996 and it has Superissimo listed in it, with Brain tubes, which is successor of Thron tubes (page 12). So all ebay listings are correct. And this case is closed 🙂
I hope this is helpful to this debate.
I just wanted to express my appreciation in you taking the time to post such fantastic information and including the full 1996 catalogue which I have now added to my collection. The Superissimo page has now been updated to include this new information. A Big THANK YOU!!
Thanks, yes what is listed in the 1996 catalog for Superissimo makes me think that is exactly what I have! Mystery solved after 15 years!
Great to hear that you have been able to solve that mystery!
Trying to identify a colnago frame, seams to be early 90’s, integrated rear brake routing as late superissimo but no columbus label on it. Any thoughts ?
Hi Rwan, definitely looks like a frame from the 1990’s – dual bottle cage bosses and a screw in cable guide under the bottom bracket. In the photo the main tubes appear to be round, so not a Master. This frame looks a bit like a C-94 from the 1994 Colnago catalogue, but it’s a bit beyond my research timeline (which was up to late 1980’s).
Thank you so much 🙂
it indeed seams to be a c94
Hi Rwan, thanks for the update.
Wow, there’s some serious knowledge here in this thread!
Sadly, it has shaken my happy home…I thought I was holding a Superissimo but there’s no Colnago stamp on the bottom bracket.
Could someone please shed some information on my frame? Is this a model that isn’t listed??
Hopefully I didn’t buy a dud… Even if I did, it’s still very pretty 🙂
Hi Mark, definately looks like a Colnago, but it seems to be a bit of an unusual mix. Chromed head tube lugs and round tubes like a Superissimo, but not all the regular markings you would expect to find on the Superissimo. The frame size appears to be stamped on the bottom bracket which is also unusual. The plastic cable guide under the bottom bracket is a great idea, but not an original feature of their original steel frames, was it added? Maybe this frame was manufactured by a contractor working for Colnago? Yes, absolutely is a nice looking frame. I bet it rides well too if you build it up.
It cost 200€ and I figured it was pretty enough either way to be worth the risk. Problem is that it was sold as a 55 and I thought it seemed big, then I found the 57….whoops.
So by your comment, I’m guessing she’s just a random mutt that has Colnago all over her? Might just be a fancy paint job on a nobody frame, or a Frankenstein from a contractor.
Thoughts on her value? I’ve many many bits and pieces. I could turn into a very pretty lady for someone to love.
Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with me.
The photos are not clear enough to see every detail of the frame, but I also noticed your frame also has bottle cage mounts on the seat post which would make 1990’s onward.. You may have a C-94 or C96 like the comments posted earlier in discussions.
So, I have update my article on How to identify a Colnago Superissimo by adding a variety of models Colnago released later that could be confused with a Superissimo. Best way to ascertain value is searching through eBay for similar models.
You are a rockstar. Seriously. Thanks for the heads up.
I also have a look frame that has custom paint which I’m trying to identify but I’m not sure this is the right place to start a Look discussion…
You’re welcome Mark, my pleasure. I hope you build the bike up and ride it some time!
Yeah, don’t know much about Look frames. That’s definitely a whole different can of worms 😉
Hi there , wonder if you can help me with this Super frame , all original with one owner from new .
Colnago cannot trace the frame number. 8L643 on the gear end . It is the Blue and white checker paintwork but has clover leaf on top of the seat stay instead of Colnago and also clover leaf on top of the bottom bracket both sides . Columbus SL ? tubing , 1.9 kg bare frame 54cm. Seat post is 27.2 . Large clover leaf under the BB with Colnago above and extention for the front mech cable to go through , seems to be a mid 80’s Super .. dont know how to send pics except to an email thanks Barry.
Hi Barry, the club logos on top of the seat stays sounds interesting. Happy to have a look at some pics, but I dont use email for images.. How to share photos on the Cycling Obsession.
Hi, I would love to get some more info in by bike.
It seems to be from the 90s, so a bit of a youngtimer for this website. I remember having a catalogue page with the painting, but cannot for the life of me find it.
I attach some pictures. it has the clover and brand name under the bottom bracket which corresponds to the SUPERISSIMO, but on the top of the bottom bracket are clovers instead of text.
If someone can enlightenment me, I would be a happier cyclist!
Hi Marino, the markings in the photo match frames from the 1980’s. It would be good also to see a few photos of the main tubes of the frame (top tube, down tube and seat tube).
In the first photo it looks like it has crimps in the down tube?