Colnago have been manufacturing high performance bicycles since the release of the ‘Super’ back in 1968. In the years that followed, Colnago experimented with different types of steel tubing and profiles to create a range of models, some of which are still manufactured in 2019. For the purposes of this article, I will focus this article on steel frames manufactured between 1968 and the late 1980s, arguably the Golden Age of vintage Colnago steel frames.
I decided to create this guide when I was looking to buy a vintage Colnago frame. During my search, I found there was just bits and pieces of information scattered all over the internet, with no definitive pictorial guide to help decipher the many different models Colnago produced between the late 1960’s and 1980’s. Surpisingly, this reference guide was a lot more work than I initially expected as different models kept popping up, but after a lot of hours, it was finally created and is regularly updated. Hopefully it will help you in your search.
When trying to identify a Colnago frame, it is not recommended to rely on decals and paint schemes. Unlike modern bikes, decals were simply applied on top of the painted frame, making them easy to remove and change. There are plenty of reproduction decals for sale on websites like e-Bay. Frames can also be repainted and re-chromed to match the style of another model. Plus, there are probably more than a few steel bikes out there that have Colnago decals, but are not Colnago frames. Therefore, it is better to identify the brand and model of the frame using the structural design elements of the frame.
Models like the Super were manufactured over a 30+ year period. During those years the frame received regular updates to it’s design and styling. If you compare a 1970’s Super frame with a 1980’s model, there are many features that will be different. To add to the complexity, variants of the the Super were released like the Superissimo and Super Sprint. This makes it a bit more complicated to determine an exact model.
First you will need to ensure that the frame of the bicycle is completely made from steel. If you don’t know how to do that, you can read this quick guide on how to identify a steel bicycle frame.
To help you identify the different models, I have divided the frames into 4 distinct categories based on the profiles of the tubes used in the frame ie. top tube, down tube and seat tube. The chain stay profile also varies between some models and will be discussed for those specific models as required.
Categorising the different styles of frames.
To help with the identification process, I have divided the different tube styles of the frame into these 4 categories.
1. Frames with ALL plain round tubes.
2. Frames with OVAL or CONICAL tubes.
3. Frames with ONE or MORE crimped tubes.
4. Frames with Gilco Master tubes.
1. Frames with all plain round tubes.
Please click on a model name to learn more.
- Colnago Super
- Colnago Super Roma
- Colnago Superissimo
- Colnago Mexico
- Colnago Eddy Merckx
- Colnago Saronni / Saronni Criterium / Saronni Tipo Sprint
- Colnago Roger de Vlaeminck
- Colnago Export
- Colnago International / Super Sprint
- Colnago Sport
2. Frames with oval or conical tubes.
Please click on a model name to learn more.
3. Frames with one or more crimped tubes.
Please click on a model name to learn more.
- Colnago Super Profil
- Colnago Mexico TT (Aerodinamica)
- Colnago Nuovo Mexico
- Colnago Profil CX (First edition)
- Colnago Profil CX (Second edition)
- Colnago Arabesque
- Colnago Regal
- Colnago Esa Mexico
- Conic SLX Total Spiral
- Colnago Tecnos
4. Frames with Gilco Master tubes.
Please click on a model name to learn more.
There were other models of the Master released beyond 1989, but they are outside the date range of this article. Some of these models are;
- Master Olympic (1994)
- Master Light
- Master X-Light
Decor Paint Finish
Some people are confused when they see the word ‘Decor’ on a Colnago frame. This word is used to signify the frame is painted with a Decor (or Art Decor) paint scheme. How to identify a Colnago Decor bicycle.
Frame Size Chart
I am hoping this article will help you determine the frame size and geometry of a vintage Colnago road bike.
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.
128 thoughts on “How to identify a Colnago vintage bike”
I bought a colnago bike with gilco tubing a few weeks ago.
It does not seem to be a master or arabesque. The seller told me it would be a colnago super from the late 70ties or early 80ties but I am in doubt because of the gilco tubing and the rear brake cable in the upper tube. (On a first glane it looks like a super because of the classical saronni red and the decals.)
I put photos on
Thanks for any help to identify the model name or production year.
Good photos. It is a Master Piu. Those star shaped tubes make it easy to identify and the Columbus Profilo S4 sticker is correct. Please read how-to-indentify-a-colnago-master. With a straight fork, rounded seat stay caps and a set of bottle cage bosses on the seat tube, definitely a later model, maybe 90’s? Not a Super, they have round tubes. The Master frame is stiffer and probably lighter. Looks like a Saronni red re-spray with reproduction decals. Groupset is Campagnolo Super Record 1980’s. Nice!
Thank you very much. That helps a lot. I had already thought in that direction but could not imagine that someone would spray the chromed parts of a master just to get a super-look-alike.
The seller told me the bike had never been used so I believed it would be in an out-of-production state. So maybe I paid a bit too much to honor this. On the other hand I wanted to ride the bike anyway and the stiffer and probably lighter frame ist not too bad.
You are welcome. If the frame is resprayed, it is a hard to know what was chrome on the original frame (unless you strip off the paint). Usually the RHS chain stay is chromed to avoid paint damage from chain slap. My guess is possibly the chrome was not in good condition, so they decided it was easier (and cheaper) to spray the whole frame instead of getting the frame polished and re-chromed. Polishing bicycle frames for chrome plating requires special care as the tubes are thin. Whilst it may not be original paint, it is still a Colnago Master! In an iconic colour and with a Campagnolo Super Record group set. The most important thing is you get out there and enjoy riding it for years to come.
Thank you very much for your encouraging words! The last days I felt so bad about this confusing bike (having been cheated once more?) but this morning I came to the same conclusion on my own as a result of reading your articles and your answer. According to your articles the gilco tubing is 3 or 4 bike generations ahead in time compared to the tubes of the Super (with all those crimps in the meantime on the Mexicans) and probably one of the best Colnago steel frames ever been built and the groupset also is even better than I expected. The photo of Saronni’s bike on your website with the same colour and that you are intending to write an article about the mid 80ties Campagnolo’s Super Record grouset also helped me a lot. So now I am looking forward to your article on the Super Record groupset!
I have a Colnago bike with columbus slx tubing.
In my opinion, it can´t be Superissimo model. It has a Colnago logo in seat tube and no colnago name.
I put photos on:
Thanks for any help to identify the bike.
Juan Antonio 🙂
That is a very nice bike. Paint looks to be original and in very good condition. From looking at your photos, it looks like the 3 main tubes are all round, so I would say it is some variety of Colnago Super. Based on the rounded seat stay caps, it appears to be a mid-late 1980’s frame which would match the Superissimo SLX timeline. If the Columbus SLX sticker is original, I would say it is a Superissimo. It would be great if you could take out the cranks and bottom bracket bearings to look inside the frame and check for the helicoidal reinforcement of the bottom bracket tubes. If you can do that, please share a photo, I haven’t seen inside an SLX frame. In regards to your concerns about locations of the Colnago stampings, they vary a bit between the years of production.
Thanks a lot for your answer, Rouleur,
I spoke with the owner of the store where the bike was sold. He said that the color and columbus SLX sticker is original, he remembered the bike because it was a very rare and expensive model when he sold it.
I have searched a similar bike with gray bands and colnago logo, but I don´t find anything. Maybe it can be a limited edition…
Nowadays I don´t consider dismounting the bike, but if I do it, I´ll send you the tube’s picture, for sure.
Hello – any ideas on how to verify if a bike purchased in 1980 was truly made by Ernesto Colnago himself? It is hand written on the receipt my father still maintains, and he hopes I can assist on any verification or further information but this is beyond my area of knowledge. I have a few photos, but doesn’t seem I can attach/upload them (and they aren’t on a site to link). Any insight or contact information? Thank you!
Well if the bike was built by Ernesto Colnago himself, that would be very special. At a guess, I’m not sure how much frame building Ernesto was doing in the late 1970’s as I expect he may have been very busy running a large and successful company. Maybe the frame was built some time before 1980 or built for a special event or rider to use? Was the bike purchased new or used? Do you know what model the frame is? I’m not sure I will be able to help validate that claim, but I would definitely be interested to see the receipt and any pictures you have of the bike. I will send you an email directly. Be sure to check in your Junk mail folder if you do not receive it.
I have a Colnago Sport. I see no mention of this model, all round tubes.
Yes I originally didn’t list this bike as it was not referenced in any of the Colnago literature of the era, however I have now added it to the site. Regards.
The master in question is not 99’s , it’s 86/88 , has rounded Colnago stamped stay caps , 90’s had rounded with ♣️Stamped stay caps
After reviewing both the 1988 & 1989 Colnago product catalogues, it is definitely likely be a late 1980’s frame. The Precisa straight leg fork first appears in their 1989 catalogue along with the seat tube bottle cage bosses. However, the Colnago lettering and rounded seat stay caps on this frame match the 1988 catalogue.
Morning. I’m trying to track down some details on my Colnago and google seems to be drawing a blank. I am the second owner, according to the first the original purchase date was 2009.
I have uploaded some pictures here… https://flickr.com/photos/155024068@N06/sets/72157714111386976
It you could help it would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Ben, nice looking single speed bike in Saronni red with 1980’s decals. Unfortunately, 2009 is outside the timeline of my research. Looking at your photos however, the frame tubing looks to be plain round (like a Super) which doesn’t match the seat tube decal which appears to say ‘Master’. All Colnago Master frames have distinctive 4 sided profile tubing, refer to my page How to identify a Colnago Master.
I am tracking a possible early, single downtube crimped Nuovo Mexico frame on the big auction site. There are no decals on the white frame, but I am trying to distinguish it from a Super Profil of the same vintage. Here is what I see in the photos:
1. Likely single downtube crimp on each side (I think this was the early version of the Nuovo Mexico)
2. Flat-faced seat stay ends stamped Colnago.
3. Fully-chromed fork and rear triangle (up to the brake mount on the seat stays)
4. Braze-on front derailleur hanger (distinguisher for a Nuovo Mexico?)
5. No bridge across the chainstay (distinguisher for a Nuovo Mexio?)
6. Cannot distinguish from the photos whether the inside of chainstays have a crimp or not.
Thank you for your help!
Hi Shawn, I believe the number of crimps and locations on the tubes are the main determining factor. My understanding is the Super Profil had no crimps on the down tube, only the top tube. This article may help you figure out the frame you have described SARONNI’S 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BIKE CONFIRMED
Thank you for the reply and your thoughts. I had been thrown off by another website stating that Super Profil frames had a single downtube crimp whilst showing the pictures of Sarroni’s bike in the museum with the sign saying Super. I now think that this was the first version of the Nuovo Mexico. Whilst not completely an indicator probably, it also seems that the Super frames I’ve run across have chromed head tube lugs top and bottom, but the Nuovo Mexico frames do not.
Hi Shawn, yeah almost 30 years later, it’s hard to know exactly, we just have to go with the best info we can find. Cheers.
I like your site, very informative.
I have my dad’s old bike(he recently passed away). I read through your piece on how to identify Colnagos. My question is; the forks on this bike(please see pics), they don’t look like the same as the Arabesque you have pictured. Would they be original or possibly a replacement set? Any help would be great. Thank you.
Sorry, try this link:
Wow! A Colnago Arabesque. Sad circumstances with your Dad, but he made a good investment buying that bike. It’s a big personal favourite of mine (and looks like it might actually be my size)!
The frame looks to be in very good original condition. It seems your father was a fan of classic Italian brands as it is quite unusual to see parts engraved ‘Pinarello’ on a Colnago as they are COMPETITORS.
In answer to your question, I believe the forks on your bike are original. In the early to mid 1980’s it seems there were 2 different Colnago designs on the fork crown at that time. I believe the ‘club in the C’ was later revised to a club on it’s own with COLANGO written on the side. However, if that were my bike, I would make 2 very cheap and easy cosmetic changes;
1. Get a new wrap of white bar tape.
2. Change the white brake hoods to beige – they look great with beige tyres and white bar tape, but don’t throw out the original white hoods.
If you really want to increase value, remove the Pinarello stuff and change all the components to the same group set, preferably Campagnolo Super Record which was the premium group set at the time. But if you just want to enjoy riding it, then that is fine too! I would be..
Im ‘interested in buying a Colnago. But I just dont have an idea of what it is exactly.
I almost think it has been resprayed.
Do you have any idea?
Whilst the photos don’t show any close-up detail, my guess would be something like a 1990’s Super Piu – based on the 2 bottle holders and Precisa straight forks. I think the paintwork may be original. It looks like a Colnago paint job and from a distance the bike looks to be in very good condition. If it were my bike I would probably change a few things to make the frame the centre of attention ie. spend $100 to swap out the bar tape (to black), tyres (to plain black) and bottle cages (to silver, grey or black to match the frame). Or leave it as is and just enjoy riding it!
Hi, I was wondering what was the hierarchy of rareness / collectibility for the vintages Colnago’s.
How would you order them from most rare to most common?
That is a very interesting question. As I am simply a researcher & presenter of information, I am not really qualified to answer, but I can say that these factors will greatly influence the value of any Colnago bike;
I am happy to list my top 5 collectible frames, however it is only my opinion (and biased).
Additionally, all of these models can be purchased online, although you will have to have big pockets and time to buy some of them.
1. Colnago Arabesque or Regal – my all time favourite Colnago frames – would love to own one – expensive & rare.
2. Colnago Mexico – quite limited and was released in celebration of Merckx’s world hour win.
3. Colnago Master (1st edition) – This was the start of Colnago’s most illustrious steel frame (plus I own one).
4. Colnago Nuovo Mexico – Shares the same clover shaped down tube with the Arabesque (plus I own one).
5. Colnago Esa Mexico – Interesting frame crimping, relatively short production period & same frame tubing as Colnago Regal.
So what about the Colnago Super? Whilst it was a very successful bike with many race wins, but for me it was produced in too many numbers over the years.
Wondering if you have some thoughts on my road bike? This was gifted to me and I would like to get some information on what Colnago frame/bike this might be. It was painted all one color it seems; I looked through your identification description, but am not sure what frame/ year. If ok, I will send you pictures for you to review. Thank you!
Hi Paul. Happy to have a look, you can post a link to the pics here.
Just looking for some info on a Saronni I have, I’m trying to identify it as it looks to be a respray as it’s black with no decals. It’s a bit of an odd duck as it has the full chrome chain stays and chrome Saronni stamped fork, but no Colnago or Saronni stamp anywhere on the frame, although it shares the same heart shaped lugs the Colnago Saronni does and is equipped with Campagnolo derailleur and shifters, but Miche cranks. Am I looking at a partscaster or did Saronni make different (budget) models under their name over the years?
Thanks for any info you have!
Unfortunately I do not know the answer. I doubt Colnago made a budget version, as this bike was a special model to celebrate Saronni. The forks definitely sound like Saronni, but I would have expected also to see the Saronni lettering on the seat stays. I just did a Google on heart shaped lugs and it appears they were used by many brands from 70’s onward so frame might not be Saronni.
I’m searching for information about a Saronni Sprint made by Colnago. I don’t know if this thing is original by means it left the factory like this, but the valued components alone must have been top-notch back then. It’s not a Colnago Saronni nor a Saronni with cheaper components offered in the 80s. It seems to be manufactured BEFORE.
I got this bike after the father of my best friend died, so again, sad circumstances. So this alone makes the bike very valuable to me.
I’d like to know when the bike was built. The 4-hole Campagnolo derailleur should have been produced in 1978, only, right? The Frame and fork look like a Colnago Super but the Super you are showing on this page had Colnago lettering on seat stay tubes, mine has nothing but features a club symbol brakeout in the bottom bracket.
The decals show a “strange” font, very simple compared to other Saronni or Colnago bikes from that area, they could be aftermarket or original, i don’t know. Only the front decal looks realy “original” to me as it’s more complicated ;). Sadly, the decals are peeling off. 🙁
On the lower tubes, “Saronni Sprint” is written, so this is how i should call it. 🙂
What’s very unique is the Saronni-engraved headset. Colnago Saronni bikes use stock Campagnolo, on this one, no manufacturer is visible. What’s really sad is that the top part has a lot of scratches because wrong tools were used once in the past.
The 6-arm crank is also very special, I found some information online, that this was produced by Ambrosio and was available as an addon from the factory.
So my conclusion is that this must be one of the first bikes sold as a Saronni. They must have taken the good parts in Colnagos factory and sold it to rise money for the later champion?
If you need more pictures, let me know.
I’m now trying to find the right bar, brake levers and stem for this bike. Saw a black Colnago-panto stem on ebay, but I think it’s for a younger bike and I should go with the aluminium ones. The ones with the tricolore-panto on top are expensive but should fit perfectly, but are they period correct?
Best, Andreas from Berlin
Hi Andreas, the bike certainly sounds unique. My knowledge only extends as far back as the information I could find online. The markings and decals definitely don’t match the Saronni model as depicted in Colnago’s catalogue. A quick search of the internet however has found several mentions of a ‘Saronni Tipo Sprint’ (Saronni Sprint type translated to English) which matches the model name of your bike, but the decals were different. Regardless the frame is from the 1970’s looking at the basic features. In terms of matching period correct parts for the 1970’s, any parts of Campagnolo Nuovo Record (or early Super Record) group sets would be perfect as they were prominent in that period. If it were my bike I would definitely replace the brake levers, install new black brake cables and change the bar tape to a gold colour to match the decals. If the stem is the correct size, you could polish it with metal polish, otherwise I would replace with a silver stem instead of black. Please post links to a few more pictures, it will be helpful for others. Hope this helps.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for your hint. I didn’t include tipo or type in my search and bam, I found something! I had a feeling that the bike is from 1979 and thats correct, same year as my BMW classic car! https://www.fotocommunity.de/photo/1979-bmw-e21-3206-berlin-original-andreas-brendle/44031742
And the Decals are Original. So this must be one of the first Saronni-branded bikes, the Graphics department at Colnago must have been lazy first compared to the complex decals later on. 🙂
Have a look:
These decals are identical, just another color.
I’m so happy, this is just like a treasure hunt. 😉
Now on to the next chapter. Finding the missing parts. I think I NEED to go with panto brake levers and stem. It’s just very obvious because of the crankset. The bad thing is that even this bike on the Ad features a Saronni panto stem. Finding one is very hard I guess. 🙁
Will post more pictures soon. 🙂
Btw.: I’m very pleased that the chain on the pictures is a golden one. So I can continue my color theme and I even checked availability of golden Regina chains before. 😉 Oh boy, it’s getting expensive now I think.
Hi Andreas, nice find with that catalogue page that matches your bike. I have updated my Colnago Saronni page with information relating to your model. It would be good if you could provide a picture of the Saronni Sprint markings on the frame?
Also, if you are not able to find original Saronni panto parts, there are companies out there that will engrave regular bike parts for you, you just need to provide a sample image of the design you want. It may not be identical to the original part, but a lot easier and cheaper.
Love you site! Very informative.
Never knew I was riding something special.
I’ve put my Colnago Nuovo Mexico on sale because it is a little bit too small for me. I will try and find another vintage bike with the right frame size for myself. This one was a present from my mother to my father back in the day’s.
In my research to ask the right price I found your site and start wondering about the colour scheme on my bike. I did not find anything with this colours on the net. Do you might know if this colouring was original or was the bike repainted? Maybe you have some more detailed info on my specific bike you like to share? Or is it just a standard one? See below the link with some pictures.
Thanks in advance for helping out.
Kind regards, Sietse
Hi Sieste. Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately that link you provided requires a logon. If the colour scheme doesn’t match anything you can find on the web, there is a likelihood it was repainted or just rare. Do the decals look original, that sometimes helps to determine originality. If you can post the images on a different site I would be interested to have a look at it. Thanks.
Will this link work?
I just checked out your photos, that bike looks totally original.
The fishnet paint work was common on Colnago bikes. I have the same styling on my 1980’s Master.
It’s one of the later Nuovo’s due to the rounded top seat stays. Shame it isn’t your size.
I do not fond the Tecnos in Your list.
Is there a reason for not putting it info it?
Is it comparable to ESAMexico?
The list is currently only up to late 1980’s.
Tecnos was released in the 1990’s, however I plan to add it some time in the future.
Thanks and congratulation for your intersting Colnago web site. Big job done.
I have could learn more on my Colnago with his crimps each side of the top tube. Same frame that the blue one on your web site.
I introdused to you my Colnago:
It’s nacre-white frame. The fork too. Without stikers. Just the one on front tube. Handlebar tube and saddle tube are engraved with Colnago Signature.
It’s a brand new bike. All seams original. Full Campagnolo. Rear gear shift is dated in 1978 (Engrave inside)
His owner told me it used it two times after bought it early in 1980 and before stored it during 40 years in his cave. He gave me it two years ago.
This man, no handyman, who was banker, told me, he never tinted it.
The bike wa whole and nothing was missing. After removed and clean all parts it regains his new bike shine.
I thought it was a Mexico but following your informations it would be a “Super Profile”.
In my frame, the rear brake cable pass through the top tube. Not outside.
Following my researchs this model (with cable in the top tube) appeared around 1987.
May be would you be interesting by this information. And may be, have you more information on this frame.
After some researchs on website, I never found the same frame.
Hi Fredy, thanks for your kind words, it’s appreciated! It was indeed a big job and I learnt a lot in the process.
If your frame is a Super Profile, it is quite possible the bike was either custom ordered (or simply built) with holes in the top tube for the rear brake cable to travel inside the frame.
I looked through all the old Colnago catalogues I have on file and in the 1983/84 Colnago catalogue, the Oval CX was designed with this feature and was in production around the same time as the Super Profil.
Frame’s designed with this internal rear brake cable routing were commonly referred to as a ‘Piu’ in following years; like the Master Piu, Super Piu etc. Be great if you can post a link to some photos so we can all see the bike.
How to e-mail you some picturfes on your site?
Hi Fredy, you will need to upload your pics to another website like Flickr, Google Photos or Dropbox and set them for public viewing. Then you can post a link to those pictures in the comments section like. Thanks.
I have a steel Colnago which has “Sprint” stamped onto the frame by the left pedal. Its a size 58 that I bought used in the mid 1990s. Not sure if this is enough information to identify year and model. If more information is required, please let me know. I appreciate any help. Thanks.
Hi Dan, based on your description, you may be interested in this How to identify a Colnago International or Super Sprint
I have a Sprint as well, with the Sprint engraving on the bottom bracket and it isn’t an International or a Supersprint according to your photos and data.
None of those models have a Sprint engraving on the B.B.
The brake bridge doesn’t have a club
No engraving on the seat stay cap
No Club cut-out in bottom bracket
No club cutout on the BB
SL Cromor label as the one in your link.
I’d be happy to send pictures if you want to make a record of the Sprint, to complete your very nice initiative. Also to Dan if interested.
I think it’s a model in it’s own right but I havent found many others on the internet and almost all of them have a different paint scheme.
Mine was imported/sold in 1988 according to the compulsory serial number added to it before sale.
OK Poul, please upload pictures to a photo sharing website and post a link in the comments and I will check it out.
I recently bought this bike from a local bike store and am wondering about more information about this Colnago Master Decor (Color and year?) because I haven’t been able to find a frame with these colors. I wonder if it’s perhaps repainted.
Thank you in advance and your website is very informative and enjoyable!
Here is a link to the photographs:
Hi Brian, glad to hear you are enjoying the content on the site. That is a nice looking and well kept frame in what I’m going to call Tour de France yellow!
No expert, but I would most probably say it’s a mid-90’s Colnago Master based on the 3 point lugs, small club logo at rear drop-outs, Precisa straight leg forks and dual drink cage bosses. Whilst paint, decals etc. can be replaced it looks like original paintwork to me, the styling is definitely something Colnago would do. Looking at the catalogues there were often many different colour-ways available to order throughout the years. I’m thinking a nice white bar tape would really look good with that frame.
I recently bought a colnago master. Somewhere from early 90’s. It was stored like this in a cellar from 1998 the seller told me.
It is fully equiped with dura ace 7400 which i find a great group set to ride with.
1) The color is quite unuasal for a colnago I guess. Could this be a custom order? It still has the dealer sticker on the seatpost tube.
2)Coul you exactly nail down what year it is?
3) On the left side of the rear chainstays there is a master colnago sticker. I find it strange that this is a sticker. Would this have come from the factory like this with a sticker?
4) Also the chrome ending on the seatstays is different on anything I’ve already seen on a Colnago bike.
Planning to do rehousing of white brake and gear gables. New white bartape and the limited edition Selle Italia Coppi saddle is being restored at the moment.
Your frame has the Precisa straight leg fork first and second drink bottle mount which first appears in their 1989 catalogue. The 3 pronged lugs first appeared in the early 1990’s so the model would be from that period on. I didn’t see any similar paint scheme or detail on the stays where the chrome meets the paint in any of the catalogs I have. The decals however match the placement and style of my 1984 Master. Looks like the bike has been well preserved. Just read about Dura-Ace 7400 and it was apparently the first SIS system produced by Shimano, so some history there. Saddle restoration sounds perfect.
Hi, I just came across your site as I was researching a potential purchase. I just want to be sure it is actually a Colnago before I buy it. Here is a link to some photos of the bike, Thanks in advance. https://arturosalcidophotography.com/p283173833
Hi Arturo, the frame doesn’t match any of the Colnago vintage frames I have documented on this website.
Yes I had my doubts and did not purchase it. It also did not have the clover cutout on the bottom bracket, thanks.
Just saw your brilliant list for the first time. One possible small addition is the Master Arabeaque. Which is basically a master with the Arabesque lugs. Sorry if I missed on your list!
Hi Henrik, thanks for your comment, yep I have the Colnago Master Arabesque documented on it’s own page.
Fantastic site and very useful post in identifying Vintage colnago’s. I have an interesting one here which has characteristics of several different models as you have described. I would be very grateful if you could have a guess what the background of this one? Any thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks in advance. Chris
Hi Chris, thanks for your post. Unfortunately 1 image is not enough to make a determination. Looking at the frame it looks to have features from the 1970s. But, the top of the seat stays look a bit different to what I would expect for a Colnago frame. Excluding the Colnago decals, are there any Colnago club shaped markings (engravings) on the lugs of the frame? Is there a club shape cut-out under the bottom bracket of the frame?
These markings will help to verify it is a genuine Colnago frame (as people have been known to put Colnago decals on frames made by other manufacturers). If you find these markings on the frame, then it should be possible to determine the model from the guide as there were only a small number of models sold by Colnago in the 1970s, the Colnago Super being the most common. Best of luck.
Hello, I just picked up a colnago wth Tange steel tubes. Will the model be the same even though Columbus tubing wasn’t used? Is there a resource to help ID titanium frames?
Hi Lee, I can see you have a Colnago Master. Unfortunately my research was only up to the 1990’s, but after a quick search on Google, here is some information on Colnago’s use of Japanese Tange tubing. As for Titanium frames, there is a list of models on Wikipedia that may get you started. Good Luck.
Hello, I’ve been trying to find information regarding Colnago Decor. Cannot find anything about this model except for photos. In which years were there built, where they stand im the specification order to bikes? Thank you,
Hi Fede, the Decor is a bit outside the timeline I have covered on my website as it apparently was released early 1990s, you can read a bit about it here.
Thank you. What it strucks me is that it states is on the “top models of Colnago’s catalog”
and there is no literature on this model.
Furthermore, wikipedia does not even mentions it.
Hi Fede, I believe Colnago Decor is actually a reference to a type of paint scheme rather than a Colnago model. Sometimes this finish is also referred to Art Decor and can be ordered on bikes like the modern C64.
awesome and very helpful guide, thanks a lot.
I have just stumbled upon a bike with with Colnage Decals and a strange paint scheme. I have no intention of buying this bike, but just would like to find out, what it actually is.
Looking at all the details available, I stil haven´t managed to figure out, whether the frame is fake or was just repainted in a bad way.
I would be very interested to hear your opinion.
What do you think: https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/colnago-super-campagnolo-nuovo-record-/1551865298-217-1309
Thanks a lot in advance.
Hi Guido. Thanks for your comments. This bike has all the features of a Colnago Super as advertised. I’m guessing early 1980’s. It’s hard to know if the paint is original, but judging by the condition of the paint and decals as well as the complexity of the paint job, it may be original paint. If it was repainted, that was a long time ago.
thank you very much for your assessement.
Today I bought another bike from the same seller(not a Colnago) and also had a closer look at the bike we are talking about.
The bottom bracket has the typical Colnago club cut-out also (not shown in the pictures in the ad).
In my mind I tried to go through the check-list you provide in your guide and to me – definitely not a Colnago expert – all the typical details of a Colnago Super seemed to be there.
It might well be that this is an original paint scheme from 1982, although I haven’t found a similar one online.
Unfortunately there are some rusty spots near the bottom bracket and quite a lot of scratches.
In my eyes this bikes probably needs a full repaint, at least a very good spot repair on the top tube and in the bottom bracket area.
If someone is looking for a Colnago Super restauration project and would be willing to spend some money for a nice repaint, the bike might be a fitting object.
All the best
Thanks for the update Guido. Sounds like it will need the rust removed and a new coat of paint to get that one up to scratch. A nice project for some enthusiast.
At first I would like to thank you for the awesome page full of the great information.
I found a treasure like this 😍
Unused Colnago Master.
After many hours searching I haven’t find excatly the similar bike from the web. Could you please help me know are this frame and components from different years? Or is this some special painting?
Hi Pasi. Thanks for the compliment. That is a wonderful Master frame in Saronni red and looks like a Campagnolo C-Record groupset which replaced the Super Record groupset. Vintage-wise I believe everything matches (mid to late 1980’s). Too nice to ride though?
Thanks for the answer.
Yeah, I think it’s too nice bike for the ride, propably it’s better not even build it up complete. I really didnt know anythibg about vintage steel bikes, but this bike quality and design looks so good that I need it to bought it. When I got it to home and look in to it more, I found your site and all this information. Now I understand that the bike needs good caring and handling as it deserve.
Private for you (If you know someone who is interesting to buy it, or the place where to sell it, please contact to me by email)
I’m sure it will generate a lot of interest on e-bay, it just comes down to your asking price.
The frame looks like a popular size and the Campagnolo Delta brakes are always sought after, particularly all the parts in NEW condition.
Specialist shops like https://steel-vintage.com/ would also be interested in it.
Or build it up and keep it in your house as a nice piece of art!
All the best.
I’m in my mid 70s and ride a 1989 steel bike (not Colnago) but before my time runs out I have decided to buy a C40. You don’t list this in your excellent feature on vintage bikes. A guide to the various C40s would be great. Have you considered adding this model?
As an investment does a refurb/respray de-value a vintage bike in general? Thank you
Thanks, the guide was really only intended for steel bikes up to the late 1980’s as they were often hard to identify. More modern bikes like the C40 were a bit easier to identify as there is a lot more info online. However as time goes on I may add more bikes to the list. The C40 is a legendary Colnago frame and it would be nice to own one, I am tempted as well!
Over it’s 10 year reign, I believe there were 3 versions of this bike. Here is some information about the different versions and common problems, and here is an interesting write-up on the C40.
A collector would pay the highest price for a frame in good original condition. So if you buy one like that, don’t change it. There are a number of reasons why the original finish is more valuable, but it indicates the frame has not been damaged/repaired in it’s lifetime.
There is of course another type of buyer that likes old bikes (that look new), so they won’t mind a good quality refurb.
The C40 being a carbon lugged frame is obviously susceptible to delamination, tubes separating from lugs and fractures from crashes etc. However there are plenty of companies that specialise in carbon frame repairs. Also, there are specialists that can test the integrity of the frame using methods like ultrasound etc.
Thank you for your reply. The information provided is more than I expected and hugely helpful. I’m now trawling through numerous sites each day until I fid the right bike. I have seen a number already but sadly not in my size.
Best of luck with your search!
I have a colnago frame here an not sure which model.
How can I show some pictures?
Hi Gabriel, there are heaps of websites that allow you to upload and share images. Post a link (URL) to your images in the comments, then people can click on the link to view your images. Here are some websites.
thanks for the prompt reply.
May be this works?
Hi Gabriel, looking at the photos, the tubes look to be plain round with no crimping. The chain stays appear to be crimped near the bottom bracket. I’d say it’s a Super.
yes round tubes and crimped near the bottom bracket is correct.
What is with the inner cables for the rear brakes, I don’t find a super who has it. The same is with the socket for front derailleur, I think it was installed later, so that this is flat and not curvy.
I think its from 1982-1984, because of the pantos at the seatstays and the tube at the chainstays.
best regards and thanks for the help.
Hi Gabriel. Frames that had an internally routed rear brake cable were referred to as a Piu ie. Super Piu. I believe it was an option when ordering the frame for some models. I’m guessing late 70’s to early 80’s. The chain stay crimping and bridge on the Super changed in the early 1980’s. Check out how to identify a Colnago Super.
here the weight from the frame only size 54 cm – 1900 gramms
I can’t find any info on my bike with the marking: Colnago Classic Competion. Do you have any info?
Hi Georg, the Colnago classic first appears in a 2001 Colnago catalogue. My identification guide only covers frames up to the late 1980’s.
Thanks for the article. I recently bought a used Colnago from the early 1990s, probably 1992 or 1993. The tubing is Columbus Brain and the drivetrain is an 8 speed Shimano 600 (cassette), indexed. I sent some pictures to Colnago/USA to try and find out which model it is. The guy there said it is a “Decor”. I’ve seen a description of the Elegant and Decor bicycles (I think). Your article doesn’t include anything with a name like that. Were you only covering bikes from the 70’s and 80’s? What about models from the 1990’s. Have you heard of “Decor”? Was that a good frame/bike?
I stopped adding bikes when I reached the 1990’s as it was already a big job.
Many of these older bikes didn’t have much literature online. As it turns out, I learnt about them when I was searching to buy a bike for myself. I then decided to put all that information into an online guide.
The Colnago Elegant was definately a model, it was featured in their 1994 catalog and built from Tange prestige competition tubes. However, I have looked through my collection of Colnago catalogs from the 1990’s and there is no mention of a ‘Decor’ model. My understanding is ‘Decor’ or ‘Art Decor’ is the name of a special Colnago style of paint scheme. Many different models over the years have been painted in a ‘Decor’ paint scheme. Even the current Colnago C64 frame could be ordered with an Art Decor paint scheme.
Based on the information you provided, I suspect you may own the last of the Colnago Superissimo models. This model was listed in the 1996 Colnago catalog and featured Brain tubing and a Decor paint scheme. You can find reference to it on my page How to identify a Colnago Superissimo.
By the mid 1990’s, the Colnago Master was the undisputed king of steel frames, but the Superissimo is still a nice bike and a descendant of the original frame that started it all, the Colnago Super. It’s a nice bike.
Thanks for providing such a detailed guide to these Colnago bikes! I have recently bought what I think is a Colnago Super at a yard sale for basically nothing. However, I’m not convinced that I’m correct in the model, and I have no clue what year it may be from. I’m hoping you could maybe provide some insight as to what year and model this bike is?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Simon, yes that frame appears to be a bit of a mixture. Round tubes and chrome plated head tube lugs are ‘Super’ like, but the seat stay caps are not what you would expect to see on a Super. This is a really big frame. I suspect it was custom made and may have been built with a mix of frame tubes.
Looks like a different owner fitted an extremely offset seat post to effectively shorten the top tube and move their position further forward on such a large frame. I think it’s probably an early 80’s frame. Looks to be in good condition assuming the paint and decals are original. Enjoy!
Hi there, could you help to identify what model is this bike? Its a real colnago or not? Attach here some photi for your reference
Thanks in advance
Hi Syuk, this frame doesn’t have the features I would expect to see on a Colnago steel frame, but it is a nice colour scheme.
Alright got it! Thanks for response
I got a classic Colnago frame that I bought from Italy but none of those listed above matches it. It was marketed as a Tecnos but basing on your Tecnos description, it didnt match 100%, It’s closer to the SLX but also not 100%, any Ideas what could my frame be? for reference this is my frame https://youtu.be/WrJKfU-JSmo
I appreciate your time and effort for putting this website up. Kudos!
Thanks for your kind words Zack, it is a pleasure being able to help out like minded enthusiasts. I took a look at your frame and revised my page on How to Identify a Colnago Tecnos. I am sure it will be of interest to you.
I would definitely get those extra holes in the frame checked for safety and possibly filled (especially for aesthetic reasons). If you do fix them, your frame will probably need another chrome dip, but this initial extra cost would definitely benefit the resale value down the track. In terms of components, whether you go period or modern, either way you are still going to have pretty decent indexed shifting and some degree of gearing options. It really comes down to cost and reliability. Spend too little on used components and you can have issues with them.
Generally it is probably more expensive to buy a frame and then all the parts, rather than buying a complete bike initially, but it is far more rewarding doing a complete build. If you decide to use modern Italian groupset. You could get a Campagnolo 11 spd centaur group for about USD 700. But no matter what you decide, it will be fun.
Thank you so much Rouleur!
The early version model matched all the features. Now I can say it with confidence that my frame is indeed a Tecnos. I will give you a shout out on my next colnago build video, if you don’t mind.
keep up the good work.
Thanks Zack you are welcome. Always good to update the guides when something a little different comes along. Please feel free to mention the website on your next video. I hope the build goes well.
I read your guide really helpfull but still notice a few diffenerent things with the bike I have.
Bottom frame has no club and forks might have the dots but difficult to see.
Is this an early, 72 perhapse colnago super ?
Hi Clyde, yes there are some differences on this frame like the non-fluted seat stay caps, unmarked fork crown and plain underside of bottom bracket.
However the Colnago club markings in the lugs, crimped chain stays, round tubes and clamp-on components would indicate a 1970’s Colnago Super.
The frame is quite large, maybe some heavier gauge tubing was used or it was custom built (possibly by an external contractor) which may explain the differences. I’m not totally sure.
Hello! Would love if you could help me identify what model Colnago I have, and how much a fair price you believe I should sell it for? Thank you so much! I’m not sure how to post a picture to you? Can I email you directly with photos?
Hi Ken, happy to look at some pics to see if we can identify the model. But, best way to determine value is by listing it on eBay. How to share images on Cycling Obsession
Hello Rouleur, amazing article! I would like some help with the ID of this Colnago. I was told that it is a repaint but the paint job is extremely good. Any help with year, model etc?
Hi Kostas, the decal is correct, it is a Colnago Master, you can tell by the tube profile. However the looking at the seat lug, straight forks and rear drop-outs, it is a later model ( mid 1990’s onward). The paint is in perfect condition, and I’m not sure if the retinato style paint was used in that era, it may be a respray. Doesn’t matter it looks great.
I love your guide! Could you please help me identify my Colnago? I bought it a few years ago at a local used bike store. I have tried to research the bike several times in the past. I came up against so many contradictory opinions that I eventually threw my hands up in frustration. Your guide and expertise are much appreciated!
Hi Lance, from what I see in the photos, it looks like a Colnago Super (all plain round tubes with no crimping and spool shaped chain stay bridge). The rounded seat stay caps stamped Colnago probably date it between mid and late 1980’s. Interestingly there is a set of biddon cage mounts on the seat tube which I think were standard in the 1990’s, but curved forks were pre-1990’s generally.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your expertise. I ride the bike a lot and did a century on it. It ranks as one of the most comfortable rides I have ever owned.
Hi Lance, glad to hear you are out enjoying the bike. Steel frames certainly have a nice ride quality. You can tell how comfortable a bike is riding a century on it for sure..
Ik wilde graag uw mening over mijn racefiets , die ik onlangs van een liefhebber heb gekocht. Ik kom er niet precies achter wat voor type dit is. Ik ben er heel gelukkig mee. Hij rijdt als een trein!!
Bij voorbaat heel erg bedankt voor uw expertise!
I wanted your opinion on my racing bike, which I recently bought from an enthusiast. I’m not exactly sure what type this is. I am very happy with it. It drives like a train!!
Thank you very much in advance for your expertise!
Hi Harrij, looks like a Colnago Master.
Hello, I just saw an ad online for a retro Colnago, but I’m wondering if it’s a real one.
What do you think?
Felix, the photo’s in the ad do not show all areas of the frame, but I didn’t see the characteristics I would expect to find in a vintage Colnago frame. Maybe the owner can help with your query.
Hey, could you help ID this Colnago Master Olympic? Cos I’ve not come across a Master Olympic in red, so not exactly sure. Thanks.
Hi Markus, I haven’t done much research on Colnago bikes 1990’s and beyond. It is definitely a Colnago Master as you probably already know. Great looking bike. The condition of the paint work, chrome and decals looks pristine. Perhaps it is not original paint? Maybe a respray? I’m sure the owner could advise.
Thanks! The owner said it’s original paint but I’m finding it hard to believe since MO doesn’t exactly come in red. It’s immaculate condition though – may get it. Thanks again!
Hi Markus, just looking at the seat tube, there is no Columbus or Tange decal that would be on the bike originally. Considering the condition of the paintwork and decals, you would expect to see that decal. This is also why I suspect it is a respray. The Master Olympic was made typically with Columbus steel, but for 1 or 2 years around 1994, it was made from Japanese Tange “Ultimate Superlight” chromoly vanadium steel tubing.
Oh man! I went through all comments reading feedbacks and taking a glimpse on other users’ pictures… Some fortunate people have absolute gems on theirs hands!
I am a big fan of the master’s and from your answers you are an encyclopedia!! And while reading you and other users It came to my mind a master olympic that i have seen only in 2 sites years ago, but I have been lucky enough to find those websites again to share with you, so may give a bit of a background and share your knowledge about it.
Although one of the bikes changed the fork to a more modern one, both frames are the same paint scheme, and those were the only ones I could find around actually:
It is kind of “easier” to find yellow master olympic with the art decor scheme, but not easy to find like those frames in the links.
Is there any particular reasons these olympic frame paint scheme is not that common? Have you seen/read it before about it in some of your catalogs?
Thanks in advance for the feedback.
Hi Daniel, thanks for your kind words. I had a look through a few Colnago catalogs and the Master Olympic (in 1994) could be ordered in any of 14 different paint schemes, which is probably why it is difficult to locate frames of a specific color scheme. Whilst the catalog specifies the order codes for these color schemes, it does not show images of what each scheme looks like. I am also unable to advise which schemes were more popular than others, but I would guess the Decor schemes were probably the most popular, even though these paint schemes incurred additional cost. Interestingly of these 14 schemes, 4 were listed as Art Decor, 5 were listed as Decor and the rest were standard (at no additional cost).
14 different paint schemes! WoW! I did not expect that. Thanks for sharing.
It is a pity there is no images attached to the color codes, anyway, would it be possible for you to share that catalog’s page? I don’t know, maybe a dedicated “how to identify a Colnago M. Olympic” articule or with a shareable image link 🙂
By the way, I have noticed from one of the links I have sent you (this one: https://www.bricklanebikes.co.uk/colnago-master-olympic-frameset-54cm ) the precisa fork on that frameset is the second version with the 3 point crown but I thought that version it was realeased later (1995) than the last Colnago M. Olympic due to the copyright issues… Share your knowledge beloved Guru XD
Cheers man! And thanks again 🙂
Sadly I don’t have Colnago catalogs of every year to know the exact dates the Master Olympic was advertised for sale. But in answer to your question, I suspect most of the frames were supplied with the first version Precisa fork, however, in the 1996 catalog interestingly there is a photo of a Colnago Master Olympic bike fitted with the 2nd version (3 point) Precisa fork crown, so it is possible some may have been sold with this fork. Unfortunately that’s the limit of my Guru-ness regarding this model.
I see, it seems the very last versions of Olympic’s model before the ban for copyright on the word ‘Olympic’ were sold with the second precisa’s fork version. Interesting.
Thank you for sharing 😀
I have a very interesting NOS Colnago Master Arbaresque Piu that I’m building up for a customer. It’s completely chromed, has a curved fork with the clover and Colnago on it, has the rounded seat stay caps with Colnago on them, as well as the lower front brake cable hole instead of the higher one. Here’s the real head scratcher….. It has internal “aero” shifter cable routing through the down tube that I am guessing would go around a special internal bb cable guide. The shifters are mounted to a special paired mount that then mounts to the top of the down tube. It’s definitely not a standard feature but for sure came from Colnago like this. I’m just super grateful that I have the shifter boss parts!!! Now unfortunately I have to try and fabricate something that fits inside the bb shell, in between the bb cups that will keep the shift cables off of the bb spindle.
Would anyone have any idea as to the model name of this bike and most importantly any pictures of the bb cable guides?
I’m building it with a 50th Anniversary group so it should be pretty sweet when I’m finished with it!
Hi Bre, sounds like it will be a very luxurious bike when the build is complete.
At a guess this frame is probably just a special custom order of a Master Arabesque as opposed to a different model. Colnago produced several frames that featured aero design shifter location on top of the down tube. I have identified several including the Colnago Mexico TT Aerodinamica and the Colnago Profil CX. Both of these examples have different internal cable routing around the bottom bracket. I believe your frame has an internal cable routing like the Mexico TT, which can be seen in the photo of the bottom bracket.
I have not had any experience working on either of these frames. As you would know, the typical Campagnolo bottom bracket of the era features a plastic internal dust sleeve which is obviously not designed to route cables over the top, so the question is whether Colnago would normally supply an extra piece to place inside the BB shell or if a special bottom bracket was required (that featured a metal dust cover over the spindle). I believe it may be possible to fit a modern style bottom bracket which has a metal dust cover, but then the bike is no longer period correct and I’m not sure how long it will be before the cable cuts grooves into the metal cover with possible shifting performance issues?
I would contact steel-vintage.com as they have lots of experience with all types of steel bikes and may be able to advise the standard procedure for a bike of this design. Once you have figured it out, please add a comment regarding the solution and a link to some photos of the bike. I’m sure others will be very interested.
Currently baffled trying to identify this Colnago on ebay.
Has master decals but only round tubing. Closest match i can find is the elegant however thrown by the decals. Any clues?
Hi Ben, the photos aren’t really clear enough to be sure of the tube profiles, they look round rather than Master profile. It may be some kind of mid 1980’s Super variant. The lettering looks sprayed onto the frame rather than normal stick-on decals.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated. All the best, Ben
thanks for this great guide, I’m trying to identify a bike it has colnago decals but only the seattube with the gilco tubing, I only have this low quality photo to go from 😕 hope you can help
Hi Rein, pretty hard to determine much from the angle of that photo, but it looks like a 1980’s Colnago frame. I assume your saying the frame has the 4-sided Gilco Master tube profile only on the seat tube? The down tube and top tube are just plain round tubes? Not sure, it could be a custom build? My 1st edition Master has profiled tubes on all 3 main tubes.