We’ve already taken you behind the scenes of the Colnago factory itself in Cambiago, along with the paintworks, so you can get a flavour of how bikes like the Colnago C-68 are still produced entirely in Italy. But while I was at the brand’s headquarters, I was also led down a corridor and through an unassuming set of double doors into a room so crowded with historic bikes that I needed a second to have a sit-down. Hidden away out of sight, Colnago has slowly been amassing rare specimens from across the entirety of its history. Limited runs, gold-plated bikes for the Pope, pioneering tech, hyperlight carbon builds; the works.
From this room of hundreds, I picked out ten that were most interesting, eye-catching, historic, innovative, or some combination of all four with the help of Alessandro, the resident Colnagologist. Because I’m extremely indecisive, I then picked out another one to make a total of 11. What follows is what I hope constitutes a virtual museum. Think of each mini bike gallery as an exhibit with a blurb. Take your time, sit and look at the details, make a sketch if you like, and remember this is just the tip of the iceberg of what will hopefully in due course become a real museum.
Titanium Oval Master
In the late ’90s, carbon fibre was beginning to establish itself as the material of choice for performance race bikes. Before it completely took over there was a short period where titanium enjoyed the limelight at the very apex of performance. Still relatively rare compared to steel and the recently proliferated load of aluminium options, titanium options from Colnago and others never really got a foothold in the same way thanks to high production costs and the cost of raw materials; Ti is expensive and tricky to weld – just see our Passoni factory tour for evidence.
The Titanium Oval Master aimed to provide a more aerodynamic alternative to the Colnago Bititan for riders of the era like Tony Rominger. Despite the Mapei livery this model never really saw much competitive use, nor did it see much commercial success thanks to the high price tag. The pros tended to opt for the carbon Carbitubo and then the C40 due to the weight improvements, and the high price kept sales back. That being said, it was also only produced in very small numbers, so is worth a pretty penny nowadays, and the horizontal top tube keeps the ‘Master’ look.
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