[CR]Colnago on CR

(Example: Framebuilding:Restoration)

From: "The Maaslands" <TheMaaslands@comcast.net>
To: "CR" <Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]Colnago on CR
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 00:39:04 -0400


Welcome To the CR list Michael!

I am very impressed that you have stood up fo your beliefs so adamantly and can give you support on a number of issues discussed.

Bikes for European markets often were quite different than those sold in the US, so basing things on brochures or what was sold in the US is often a sure road to "foot-in-mouthitis". I can state unequivocally that Colnago did build bikes without the chromed fork crown in 1974. This possibility is all the more likely if it was one of the last minute bikes prepared for the fall show season (this is the norm for Colnago, as the bikes were invariably completed only days before the shows). I own a 1974 bike without chromed fork crown, a bike that comes with immaculate provenance, given that it was a SCIC team bike built for Franco Bitossi, as confirmed by both Bitossi and Ernesto Colnago.

With regards to the other details raised by Charles, I can't be as helpful. My bike has pantographed and milled chainrings that correspond to Charles' description of only a relieved clover at each arm and substantial milling of the interarm portions of the chainrings, with no Colnago name anywhere to be found. This would be the most common treatment for bikes in 1974 (however this would not exclude that the design of yours could not also be correct late in the year.) As far as the front derailleur, there is no doubt that this is not original and I believe that you have already recognized this. As for the shift levers, I have been told by at least three Colnago old-timers (all with at least 20 years of working for Ernesto) that the shift lever pantographing came somewhat later and that in 1974 they would much more likely have been the straight drillium ones. By this I mean that the standard Campagnolo lever was simply drilled out, leaving little more than an outer ring. While not very stiff or strong, they did look neat and racy back in the day. The 1974 version levers did not lend themselves overly well to the pantographing seen on yours as they were not overly thick in the center where the deeply relieved part on your levers is seen. This is not to say that it is not possible to be period correct, only rather unlikely. In fact, if they were period correct, this would quite possibly tie into the German show story, as they would be quite rare. If you look at the bottom side of your levers, you should be able to verify yourself if they are possibly period correct. The late 70's and early 80's versions had a dimpled ring around the outside of the levers with a raised center section with relieved marking saying patent Campagnolo. This gave plenty of "meat" to the pantographers to be able to do their magic, whereas the 1974 levers had the same dimpled outer ring with the center fully relieved except the raised Campagnolo lettering. So do check the bottom side of the levers.

As far as the statement about the bike being a Munich show bike, there must have been some miscommunication here. There is no 'bike show' in Munich and to the best of my knowledge there has never been one either. There is the Friedrichshafen show that is not all too far from Munich, but Ernesto would never mistake it for Munich. Besides, the Friedrichshafen show did not exist in the 1970's. In the 1970's, the only official shows in Germany were held in Cologne. So I take that this is merely a misstatement and that in fact the bike was a Cologne show bike.

As far as trading the bike for a custom carbon bike, I can assure you that Ernesto would not personally go for such a deal. The scenario where a Ferrari dealer is involved, could however make the whole thing plausible as Ernesto always gets gassed when he gets to chum around with the Ferrari people and there is a considerable amount of backscratching being done. I have seen some incredible work done by Ferrari people for Ernesto for free. In exchange, Ernesto is known to treat them very well. In fact, after Ernesto built Michael Schumacher a racing bike, Ernesto ended up supplying similar bikes to almost all the Ferrari team mechanics upon Michael's suggestion. Ernesto is also one of the rare people (perhaps the only person!) who can use the Ferrari trademark to co-brand a product and have their own brand be larger than the Ferrari one.

Anyhow, I think the final outcome that sees a restored bike returning to Cambiago as fitting, especially as it will apparently give the present owner good vibes. Unfortunately, even if perfectly restored, it will have a mighty tough fight to be displayed anywhere in Cambiago as the droolworthy bikes are many and the space to display them almost non-existant. The only people to ever get the chance to see most of the most significant bikes in his collection are business partners and friends, as they are located in parts of the Colnago premises where access is severely restricted. He has the bike that was donated to the Pope in the third floor conference room, Saronni's Word Championship winning bike and one of the Merckx hour record bikes in the workshop under his private home, Rominger's hour record bike in a warehouse storage room in the basement...

Steven Maasland
Moorestown, NJ