colnago c40 | colnago c40hp | colnago c50hp | colnago dream |
50th anniversary interview with ernesto colnago | colnago teams since 1968
robert millar colnago c40 review | colnago clx | colnago c50 2007 |
colnago arte | colnago eps | colnago cx-1 | ernesto colnago interview 2008 |
colnago clx centaur | colnago ace 2010 | colnago clx 2.0 2010 | colnago super | colnago c59
colnago m10 | colnago world cup 2.0
welcome to colnago.cc the favoured place on thewashingmachinepost for colnago bicycles.
in response to our (fiercely prejudiced) enthusiasm for the marque, many others have shared their own enthusiasm through e-mail, sending of photos and even talking to us when we have plucked up the nerve to attend cycling functions. colnago.cc, with co-operation from colnago uk, will endeavour to be the most comprehensive source of information on our favourite bicycle that we can manage. we're not called anoraks for nothing:-)
you might also like to take a look at molto colnago, a flickr group featuring a lot of photos of the finest machines on the planet. (but only after you've read everything you need to here:-) and perhaps this expression of colnago love too.
suggestions will be cheerfully entertained, so if you've thought of something, or just want to share, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: ben ingham
ernesto colnago has a reputation for pushing that which many figure he ought not to push. though not the first to nip over to taiwan in order to avail himself of their carbon monocoque experience, at the time, it wasn't the most popular move he'd ever made. but then you don't get to remain at the cutting edge without breaking a few eggs along the way. which is not to say that the current range in any way resembles an omelette.
but almost a year ago, and quite obviously something that had been receiving many hours of craftsmanship in a small cupboard in a corner of cambiago, colnago produced a version of the c59 with disc brakes attached. and not only a pair of 140mm perforated rotors, but discs that operated via hydraulic control. adorned with shimano di2 for the launch, colnago has now aligned itself with campagnolo, so the review model that arrived for a short holiday on islay switched gear via vicenza's super-record eps groupset.
the uci have so far declined to allow disc brakes on bicycles competing in their races, so, other than column inches, you have to wonder why cambiago has produced such an expensive race bike that can't be legally raced? and the purists amongst us simply stand with jaws dropped at the audacity of such futuristic contemporaneity in removing those dual-pivot calipers. for surely hydraulic power such as this, when applied to lightweight carbon fibre will have each and everyone of us enjoying a face-plant after travelling over the handlebars.
tuesday 26th february 2013
it has long been a mystery why women's road-racing is not only less popular than the male equivalent, but quite why there is so little of it in existence at all. though i have no statistics to prove it, the usual assumption is that women make up fifty percent of the world's population, and though sociological demands perhaps minimise the number wishing to participate in the professional end of the sport, a touch more encouragement from the sport's governing bodies would go some way to improving the situation, i'm sure.
however, a mere matter of months after britain's considerable success at the london olympics, three of team gb's female track riders have joined a new women's road team fostered by australia's rochelle gilmore and sponsored by online retailer wiggle in co-operation with japanese carmaker, honda. the team also receives financial aid from the bradley wiggins foundation.
and in something of a surprise, but nonetheless welcome choice of bicycle, the twelve-woman team will compete aboard colnago c59 carbon frames powered by campagnolo componentry and wheels.
the bicycle deal seems to have been concluded with cambiago rather than with uk distributor windwave, but managing director, peter nisbet said that this ought to be a great boost, particularly with the inclusion of the british girls; "a fantastic bonus."
anthony mccrossan's cyclevox have been engaged to film the team's progress. "Over the next few months we are going to follow the team as they race. We will be working with team sponsors to bring unique video content to the team website, as well as providing content to other outlets.". i hope to have colnago.cc included as one of those 'other outlets'
saturday 26th january 2013
many a colnago aficionado has a soft spot for steel. were that not the case, the master x-light would have been buried many a long year ago. but ernesto maintains that not only do many of colnago's customers still want bicycles that are built in italy, they still want italian steel. so the master continues to have its proprietary drawn columbus steel tubes brazed into chrome lugs, even going so far as to leave the bottom bracket shell as italian thread, the last of the colnago range to do so.
trawl through the pages of e-bay, and you'll find many a steel colnago frame from years past being offered either at the end of a refurbishment project or as the start for someone else's. though both the north american handmade bicycle show and its british equivalent have proved there is a great deal of mileage still to be gained from lugged, tig or brazed steel, most of these projects are intent on producing a snapshot in time. thus, if the frame originates from the late seventies, there will be a concomitant search across other corners of e-bay to find componentry from the selfsame period.
many of the resultant bicycles, and it has to be admitted that, for the nostalgic amongst us there is a great deal of viewing pleasure to be had from looking closely at every aspect of these, end up as showpieces or perhaps only ridden to church on a very dry, sunny sunday morning. the intention is rarely to prove that steel is as relevant today as it was when there were no alternatives.
that's a bit of a shame, in my opinion, and it's an opinion at least partially shared by the guys at dutch and wolf. the saronni colour scheme offered by colnago on the master frame is in celebration of the great italian cyclist's world championship win at goodwood in 1982, some thirty years ago. that, however, seems no real good reason to date the purpose of such a finely crafted machine, so dutch and wolf decided to build a complete bicycle to reflect just how contenporary a machine it could be without looking in any way incongruous. (i'd temper this last statement by drawing your attention to the oddly shaped aero bottle on the downtube. not sure i'd want one of those on my master x-light).
the component listing is pretty much as modern as it gets: deda carbon stem, deda zero 100 bars, that oddly shaped arundel bottle and cage, campagnolo athena carbon groupset, chris king r45 hubs laced with sapim cx ray aerolite spokes onto starley tubular rims, tufo race tubs, selle carbon slr saddle, a deda drittissimo carbon seat pin and speedplay pedals. with that combination, beppe would have finished a whole lap of goodwood ahead of the peloton.
according to mark at dutch and wolf, they set out to "make a steel bike that would ride like a bat out of hell, something with attitude to tempt people from their carbon frames." if that doesn't do it, likely nothing will.
i don't have an all up weight for the bike, or a retail cost, but if you give the guys at dutch and wolf a shout, i'm sure they could supply both numbers for your riding satisfaction. do please remember however, that steel is real.
friday 28th september 2012
when colnago uk informed me that my review model was not only on the freighter from taiwan, but that my name was on it, it ended a lengthy period of waiting. this particular edition of the clx was announced mid-summer 2011, but it has taken the best part of a year to find its way to the inner hebrides for a holiday. i know not whether this is because colnago were errant in their frame production or whether the blame ought to be apportioned to shimano for providing insufficient quantities of their electric ultegra groupset. either way, the review model was not amongst the first shipments to arrive, but previous bicycles have been snapped up by orders from colnago dealers.
supply and demand. an excellent problem to have.
when the bicycle did finally arrive, a few days earlier than expected, it turned out that far from having my name on it, some chap called ernesto haad beaten me to it with a white felt pen. the clx was colnago's first foray into far eastern monocoque production, creating a minor furore at the time. the fact that the clx 1.0 was considered something of a success has pushed all that to the background for most, though i have no doubt there are still a few members of the underground resistance who bemoan the lack of a made in italy sticker on the seat tube.
this particular model tips the price scales at a few pence less than £4,000, a £1,000 premium over the regular ultegra equipped version, so are those extra pennies justfied? is electronica in this case to be considered a value add or a masking agent for lack of frame innovation?
sunday 12th august 2012
once upon a time, far, far away (well, not really, but it ruins the beginning otherwise), all bicycles were made equal, thus promoting much dissension in the ranks. as procedures go, constructing a bicycle frame varied little, if at all, past a collection of steel tubes and a modest number of cast steel lugs which would subsequently be brazed together by an experienced artisan of the craft. with those steel tubes often arriving from the same manufacturer of steel tubes, there was little opportunity for individuality other than that of the paintwork, something that was seen as simply a fundamental manner of staving off any ferrous oxide in the damp british climate.
thus it can be seen that there was little to choose between the craft of one lightweight bicycle purveyor and the next, choice being often decided by proximity.
although we are well used to the bombardment of marketing hyperbole nowadays, it is possible that the dawn of cycle marketing was fostered by this ubiquity imposed by a uniformity of supply. it would have been hard, if not downright impossible for any framebuilder to claim important advantage over any of his competitors if, paintwork aside, there was little if anyhting to choose between them. those cast lugs, however, offered some limited scope for individual expression, happy and willing to be filed, cut and sanded into a myriad of intricate shapes probably not thought of by those who had poured the molten steel into the moulds. thus was the marketability of the modern lightweight cycle born, counting solely on the number of distinctive flourishes that could be carved from a steel bicycle lug.
it likely says more about the purchasers of said frames than of the builders that something so seemingly trivial and insubstantive could persuade the choice of one bicycle over another, but as neddy seagoon once said "you gotta start somewhere". such tender moments in the history of marketing the home product were apparently short lived, for nothing stands still for long. though we nowadays think little of obtaining items manufactured in the far east, north america and mainland europe, such was not the case in the land of once upon a time.
italy has held inestimable sway in the word of bicycle racing since the mid nineteen fifties, promulgated by the exploits of the campionissimo, fausto coppi, that of bartali and many others. such adoration extended to the bicycles on which they rode to victory, the very reason why the manufacturers of same were pleased to have them aboard. taking advantage of this fascination for italiana not unnaturally led to an increase in the number of imported frames from the boot of europe. it is not hard to imagine the kudos to be garnered from arriving at the sunday morning ride on steel tubes and lugs with an italian name on the downtube.
this did not confer any legitimate superiority over the home-grown product, for names such as bottechia and pinarello are undoubtedly the italian equivalent of yates and waugh, but many had chromed lugs embossed with the maestro's coat of arms (so to speak) and an aura that no amount of british marketing could easily surpass. however, no matter from which part of the world such exotica originated, it was as subject to the implacable laws of fashion as any item ever was and continues to be. demonstrable superiority was extremely hard to come by and the italians found themselves in a similar situation to that of the indigenous market only a few years previously.
the lug thing had been done to death. the modern day cyclist (of the time) was no longer impressed by the work of curly hetchins, at least not in the manner that had once been the case, so other forms of subterfuge had to be fomented. even careful crafting of individually stamped and pantographed componentry did not a substantial bank balance create, aside from which, those were impressions on a macro level, when the true race fan and fast rider was looking for something of a more graphic and visible nature. were not the italians famed for their style and artistry? had it not been leonardo erroneously credited with the invention of the bike in the first place? had michelangelo not painted the ceiling of the cistine chapel?
guilty as charged on all counts.
taking advantage of this italian heritage, ernesto colnago, already a progenitor of superior italian frameology took to having the frames of his master frameset individually painted by craftsmen of the airbrush, and art decor was born. search about the interweb for photos of the all conquering wordperfect cycle team, that which morphed across the decades to eventually become rabobank as it is today, and marvel at those beautiful colnago masters with chromed lugs and unique art decor paintwork. it would have been hard to concentrate on any breakaway from the peloton while confronted with such delicate brushwork on the top tube.
though the design when applied to colnago frames, and it did eventually find its way onto the carbon colnago c40, was ostensibly of similar imagery, the fact that each was hand-painted meant that they could be nothing but unique. minute differences added a certain je ne sais quoi that could be individually exploited by each owner. the cognoscenti delighted in this distinction as applicable to their choice of bicycle, making it quite literally no competition when it came to walking satisfied from the showroom floor.
however, as previously mentioned, little is immune from the vicissitudes of fashion, particularly in italy where such seems inherited at birth. as anyone more experienced in their dealings with italians than i, will doubtless agree, it has been often said that the italians are so blissfully unaware of what it is they have that endears them to others, that they are blind to any intrinsic dismissal in favour of the next big thing.
i am inclined to blame the chaps at cervelo, though that may be a slight innacuracy, for the current bland, illogical and downright inscrutable fad for painting random geometric shapes across the carbon fibre now ubiquitous in the industry. i cannot hold colnago entirely to account for their slavish need to follow the geometric folly, for many others have done the very same. the more each manufacturer tries to differentiate themselves from the opposition, the more they resemble each other.
however, 2013 sees the 30th anniversary of the colnago master, the first model having been carefully brazed together in inimitable italian fashion in the 1980s. in an interview with ernesto a few years ago, he intimated that this would be a model that would always be at the heart of the colnago range, no matter how far each foray into carbon fibre subsequently took them. it is the only model in the range to remain faithful to the one-inch steerer and external headset, along with italian threaded bottom bracket. yet it manages to look every bit as contemporary as it did last century.
however, the crowning glory of the 30th anniversay model is the glorious return to art decor, available soon in three distinct flavours: red, blue and black. peruse these variations on the latest incarnation of the colnago website and tell me that it doesn't outshine every other colour scheme apart from the almost and understated art decor on a colnago c59 iltalia. it is hard to play down an overwhelming desire to phone colnago uk and ask them to put one aside the minute they arrive from cambiago later this year. price is likely to be around the £2,100 mark for frame and fork, but if you take into account the fact that colnago have estimated the art decor finish to cost around £300 per frame, i'm happy to consider that a bargain.
the italians may have their foibles (which nationality doesn't?), but they do have an amazing propensity for producing art of the highest standard, and we can only stand and applaud that ernesto has decided to have some of that applied to one of his most famous bicycle frames. perhaps sense has begun to regain a foothold at cambiago, and eventually the option of art decor will be an availability on all the italian made frames.
thursday 5th july 2012
there's a momentous part of a first day at art college when the college shop opens specifically for the newbies to stand in line ready to collect that first year pack. the occasion is so rife with excitement and anticipation, partly because the newness of everything still holds great intrigue and because the majority of those you're queuing with are folks you've never met before. several, like me, were unconcerned about hiding any naivete in new surroundings, while others were trying (too hard, in most instances) to let it all wash over and appear as insouciant as they could manage.
never once did the eye take a good long look at the contents list of that welcome pack to discern any particular reasoning behind its composition. why, for instance would we need prussian blue and light red? surely vermilion and ultramarine would suffice? why would i ever need ten sheets of mellotex; and just what was it anyway? insufficient experience gave rise to most of these questions, and at that very early stage, it never dawned on any of us that the materials prescribed might just be the result of institutional convention.
since our artistic abilities had yet to be tested in any way shape or form, anticipation played greater than just a bit part in the proceedings, but it still concerns me slightly that, at the end of my first year, i still had one or two items that lay unused in my locker, the reasons for which i never truly fathomed. but if education then was anything like it is today, several learning outcomes had probably moved on faster that the composer of the first year starter pack.
as one who fully intended to specialise in the art of either oil or watercolour painting, the inclusion of a large fold of unprimed canvas, several stretchers and a tin of white undercoat held the greatest promise. these were hitherto unknown components of artistic struggle, components of which, i don't mind admitting, i was a little unsure. it came as great relief, therefore, that day one in the painting class consisted of a demonstration as to just how such items ought to be usefully optimised for painterly expression. though the canvas was to be stapled to the back of each stretcher, it was of economic comfort to learn that this could be unhitched and the stretchers re-used at a later date. though the concept of so doing was far from anyone's mind at the time, that all but penniless third term encouraged great invention to continue assignments in the face of an empty bank balance.
the latter was of even more pertinence to the classmate who spent his entire grant on records before the first week was out.
though an idea poo pooed at the start of our collective art school career, economics eventually dictated that sheets of hardboard slathered with the very same white undercoat would ultimately suffice for the latest masterpiece. the secondary joy was that of leaving acres more room in the painting racks outside the drawing and painting classes. the downside was often that of taking an age to dry when using oils rather than acrylics, even though, unbeknownst to most at the time, this property of oil paint allowed constant reworking over a lengthy period of time, somewhat of a boon when continuing the one work for several weeks.
the lesson learned, if indeed it was learned at all, was that the medium and substrate prepared for any work of artistic endeavour were of secondary importance. many a great master expressed his greatness on materials considerably less worthy than cotton duck canvas. though works of art sell for millions nowadays, earning a living as a professional artist was, and is, a somewhat precarious existence and necessity truly is often the mother of invention. the great david bomberg, who lived a mostly penniless existence in british obscurity resorted many a time to painting on oiled paper, not the simplest of fabrics to have framed for exhibition. but then a determined need to keep painting has often been compared to the compulsion to go out and ride a bicycle or indeed write about it every day. neither are truly necessitous, but rarely is compulsion a respecter of logical thought.
this ability for art to be applied to various surfaces has its origins in the cave paintings of pre-christian times, many examples of which have been found all across europe, australia and africa. there are still tribes today who would consider a set of windsor and newton oil paints and brushes to be of singular curiosity. it is little wonder, therefore that the bicycle frame, though not perfectly adapted for expression writ large, has found itself on the receiving end of some exquisite artistry. the nature and material of this velocipedinal canvas rather precludes those characteristic crinkled tubes of artists' colours, more readily laying claim to the fine mist of an airbrush. in the right hands, however, many a frame has arguably come to rival the works on art gallery walls.
the pinnacle of such artistic proficiency i would regard to be encapsulated in the art decor series promulgated by colnago during the late nineties and on into the early noughties, an example of which sits patiently in thewashingmachinepost bike shed. there was little need to query whether one had acquired such a frame, for inevitably the words, art decor appeared at a strategic point of the frame in question. for reasons of which i know not, though doubtless fashion played its part, these were phased out via slightly less complex and individual paint schemes until they disappeared from view altogether, replaced most recently by most underwhelming and seemingly pointless geometrics, featuring little darts of colour or carbon overlapping the joint of one or more tubes.
a colnago video of one or two years back provided an insight to the skills of cambiago's paint shop, where a substantial amount of masking and colouring led to the pristine final state. ultimately, i found it almost a crying shame that such skill was, in my humble but regularly voiced opinion, being curtailed in its output. all those hours to look identical to many of the mass-produced outpourings from taiwan seems an utter shame.
all, however, is not lost.
on a recent visit to the colnago factory near milan, windwave ceo peter nisbet collected three prototype designs for the recently offered ottanto, built to celebrate ernesto's 80th birthday, one of which just happened to be a drop dead gorgeous example of the art decor that i and many a colnago aficionado would dearly like to have occupying our respective bike sheds. in the spirit of this, it might just be possible that such artistry could be persuaded to see the light of day in a limited edition, and i'd be very interested to know what any listening colnago enthusiast thinks of just such an idea. the finished work need not be such a blatant rabobank testament as the example illustrated, (the colour is malleable in this respect) but if you think this might set off those tanned thighs of steel, feel free to drop me a line and i'll have a word with the powers that be.
naturally enough, the art decor applique can only feature on italian built frames; the epq and c59 and it's not something that you'd knock off before breakfast and an italian espresso, so there is an additional cost factor involved, but ultimately allied to the not inconsiderable cost of such a frame in the first place. if you think you'd like it, this is a genuine entreaty to let me know.
and while we're discussing colnagos, nick bourne of pendragon sports has an offer that some of you might not want to miss out on. nick's been offered a dozen vip starts for colnago owners in this year's gran fondo colnago piacenza on 2nd september. flights will be from gatwick to milan malpensa and accommodation about 5km from the start at the picenza best western. if your incredibly busy calendar has an inexplicable gap between 1st and 3rd september this year, and you have a ready and eager colnago wishing to visit its ancestral home, send nick an e-mail for further details really, really soon.
thursday 14th june 2012