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Colnago super unknown year saved from life of mediocrity

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Colnago super unknown year saved from life of mediocrity

Old 12-23-20, 10:23 AM
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Colnago super unknown year saved from life of mediocrity

While hunting parts I came across a listing on CL for a "Women's Italian racing bike". It had only one horrible photo of non-drive side with bad lighting (could not even determine color) and focus. I could only make out the large white and black Colnago decals which pointed to an earlier model, but that was all I could tell. It was definitely a small frame, listed as 51-53cm; but I could tell it was 51cm or smaller. If it didn't have the decals still on it I would have (and almost did!) passed it by upon seeing the rear rack and foam rubber on the handlebar; it is only missing spoke reflectors, spoke and chain guards!. The owner did not have the bike on hand, but brought it to a bike shop who was selling it for her. Contacted the shop and they were not very familiar with the bike, but after asking some specifics to ensure it was not fake I found out that it was an authentic "Super" frame with a mishmash of non-original (if originally bought as complete bike) '80s parts rolling on new rims and hubs. Essentially bought it unseen except for the poor photo.

Although dirty and dusty, this frame turned out to be in excellent condition with essentially no rust (light rust/oxidation on components; owner lived near ocean for decades) and only a couple paint chips. It would be odd to build this bike up with parts it has, but who knows what it went through during its past life; owner (possibly only the second owner) had it for some 30 years or more. Basing from experience and other examples I figure this to be from 1977-1980. My other "Super" frame circa 1976 is nearly identical in construction except for the chainstay "bridge" being a few mm's closer to the BB shell on this newer frame. I would assume chainstay length to be the same (have not measired) even though on a smaller frame. All other features match my early frame (except decals) before changes made in the early '80s: stay caps, Colnago stamped into chainstay, BB shell cutout/stamp, chain stay bridge style, etc.

Columbus "SL" frame, 48.5cm (c-c)/50cm (c-t) seat tube and 53cm (c-c) top tube; 3ttt stem (60mm); 3ttt bar "Mod. Gran Prix"; Campy "Record" seat post (27.2mm, 2 bolt with non-factory flutes and Colnago "C/clubs" logo pantogragh) and Campy clamp bolt; Shimano 600EX/arabesque headset; Campy "Super Record" shifters; Campy "Super Record" cranks (165mm date codes "0" non-drive, and "3" drive; both in circles, 1980 and 1983) with "Super Record" 52T ring (with "COLNAGO" pantographs), and OFMEGA 44T ring; Campy "Gran Sport" pedals (missing dust caps); Campy "Gran Sport" brakeset; Campy "Triomphe" front derailleur (I believe?); Campy "Athena" (I believe?) rear derailleur. Sun Tour 6 speed freewheel, Campy "Record" BB, and new Wienmann LP18 rims with new 25mm tires.

If you have Colnago "Super" with the same decals and know it's year of manufacture/model year please comment here so I can better date this frame. I would put a Campy "Record" group on it for restoration correctness, but since I'm doing that with my '75, I will just make this a better version of what it is now, of course removing rack and putting on proper bar tape, already have a Mavic rim/Campy "Record" wheel set built.
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Last edited by HPL; 12-27-20 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:13 AM
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More Colnago "Super" stuff.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:15 AM
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Great little project, nice job seeing through the potato pic.

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Old 12-23-20, 11:25 AM
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My Ď77 Super was obtained from the original owner/builder that was from a bare frame order. He put Campy NR, Cinelli parts on it. He raced with Greg LeMond back in the day and set state records in the Jr class. Quite a history. I found it untouched in his barn in a sad need of a restoration.

I say hang era italian parts on it and ride with pride.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:07 PM
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don't necessarily go by the graphics, the bike no doubt has been repainted, Colnago forks of this style were chrome.
Frame is of the "chain rest" period.
Reads like a good purchase.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:37 PM
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Beautiful bike and great find! I’m a sucker for a green bike. I couldn’t tell for sure but it looks like recessed brake bolts. I’m going to guess ‘79 or ‘80. The rear derailleur is Athena 7 speed btw.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:02 PM
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If it fits, good score.
If it doesn't, I know someone....
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Old 12-23-20, 01:08 PM
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Different "Super" circa 1976 but same details (note: not sure if chainstay guard strip was original, was on when I got the bike; I'm the second owner). Raced and ridden for 35 years as a second owner, getting full mechanical period parts refit (orig. parts date coded from 1974).
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Old 12-23-20, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
don't necessarily go by the graphics, the bike no doubt has been repainted, Colnago forks of this style were chrome.
Frame is of the "chain rest" period.
Reads like a good purchase.
I agree on the chrome forks, except I have seen factory painted forks and crowns (do not know if chromed underneath); back in early '80s in Italy and France. My circa '76 Super was originally owned by my friend who bought a new frameset at the Colnago factory when we were in Italy and ordered no chrome or braze-ons for cost savings. The owner of the green Super was from Europe, I did not ask where, or whether she was the original purchaser; I know she lived in the Caribbean Islands for many years thus the corrosion. I might try to get in touch with her, she was not available when I picked up the bike. When I pull off the fork during rebuilding I should see chrome on the lower part of the steerer if the crown is chromed; still may have been a factory paint over. Maybe the previous owner can shed some light on that front.

Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs View Post
Beautiful bike and great find! Iím a sucker for a green bike. I couldnít tell for sure but it looks like recessed brake bolts. Iím going to guess Ď79 or Ď80. The rear derailleur is Athena 7 speed btw.
Yes, the bolts are recessed, my circa '76 has nutted mounting. Thanks for the "Athena" help, I was not sure since I have never used or worked on that model before.


Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
My Ď77 Super was obtained from the original owner/builder that was from a bare frame order. He put Campy NR, Cinelli parts on it. He raced with Greg LeMond back in the day and set state records in the Jr class. Quite a history. I found it untouched in his barn in a sad need of a restoration.

I say hang era italian parts on it and ride with pride.
Cool story. I will put all Italian parts on it except the freewheel. A Sun Tour FW makes a vintage inline Campy derailleur work much better than a Regina or Everest of the same period.
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Last edited by HPL; 12-27-20 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by HPL View Post
A Sun Tour FW makes a vintage inline Campy derailleur work much better than a Regina or Everest of the same period.
Thatís what mine has. Good choice!
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Old 12-23-20, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Thatís what mine has. Good choice!
I've been using a Sun Tour on the other frame for decades because the first owner built it with one instead of a European FW. I did not realize the difference until riding a bike with a Regina FW and Campy mech.
What decals were on the '77?
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Old 12-23-20, 02:57 PM
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My beat up 85 came with a Suntour FW also.
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Old 12-23-20, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by HPL View Post
I've been using a Sun Tour on the other frame for decades because the first owner built it with one instead of a European FW. I did not realize the difference until riding a bike with a Regina FW and Campy mech.
What decals were on the '77?
Factory stock from Eduardo. Getting those off were touch n go. I found the exact set (water app) from Greg Softley in Australia for 35.00 if I recall.

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...nt-decals.html

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Old 12-23-20, 06:01 PM
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Nice find!

But what's so bad about a life of mediocrity? I have mostly enjoyed mine, so far.
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Old 12-23-20, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Thatís what mine has. Good choice!
SunTour Perfect on my 75!
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Old 12-23-20, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Kabuki12 View Post
SunTour Perfect on my 75!
Winner on mine. Has 15, 16, 17, 19, 21 gearing. Amazing durability.
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Old 12-24-20, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Nice find!

But what's so bad about a life of mediocrity? I have mostly enjoyed mine, so far.
Only saving the bike from mediocrity not you or myself. I'm pretty happy being mediocre also, but a real race bike with a rack is somewhat depressing. I will not be commuting or running errands on that frame; I've got some 50 lb 3 speed bikes for trades purposes, plenty of racks.
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Old 12-24-20, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Nice find!

But what's so bad about a life of mediocrity? I have mostly enjoyed mine, so far.
And I look up to you.
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Old 12-24-20, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by HPL View Post
Different "Super" circa 1975, but same details (note: not sure if chainstay guard strip was original, was on when I got the bike; I'm the second owner). Raced and ridden for 35 years as a second owner, getting full mechanical period parts refit (orig. parts date coded from 1974).
I would re-evaluate your 1975 assessment, the foil chain slap sticker, the COLNAGO cast top eyes suggest a bit later.
Does the drive side rear dropout have the threaded screw points for the portacatena?
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Old 12-24-20, 09:19 PM
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Think about it this way,
The "mediocre" life that Colnago lived might have been why it is in such good shape under the grease l, dust and grime that's covering it, because of the easy, possibly very short miles it had traveled all its life......
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Old 12-25-20, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
I would re-evaluate your 1976 assessment, the foil chain slap sticker, the COLNAGO cast top eyes suggest a bit later.
Does the drive side rear dropout have the threaded screw points for the portacatena?
The history of the blue Super: original owner purchased in Italy (custom order bike: factory stock frame size with full braze-on package: TT guides, DT shifter & cage bosses, BB shell guides, stay stop; fully chromed fork and crown) and fit with a Nuovo Record/Record complete gruppo in late 1976. I purchased the bike in mid 1986 and was told it was over 10 years old at that time; verified later for year/season of original purchase. Owner (a friend, coworker, and ride partner) sold bike to me in order to purchase another Super custom ordered larger size frame (no braze-ons, no chrome, but with custom fit frame) again direct from the factory. All original Campy dated components (cranks, rear derailleur, hubs) are from 1974; front derailleur is of the post-1972 to pre-1978 design. Original parts as it sits: Campy Nuovo Record front & rear mechs and brake calipers; Campy Record hubs, cranks, shifters, seat post, and headset; 3ttt Record stem; Gerry Burgess bar. Replaced/Modified parts Super Champion Gentleman rims built-up on original Record hubs with Sun Tour 6 spd FW (unknown what original FW make was or if 5 or 6 spd)(1980/81), Campy Super Record brake levers (new in box, received with bike) replaced Nuovo Record levers (1986), Bullseye pulleys replaced Campy pulleys (1987), LOOK pedals replaced Nuovo Record pedals (1988), Campy Athena BB assy replaced EDCO Competition BB assy (1994) which had previously replaced the Nuovo Record BB assy (yr unknown). Unknown if chainstay foil guard was from the factory or added before my ownership; one would think it would match the other stay decal, but it does not. There may be another factory decal under the foil which does match the left stay; who knows, I am not restoring any frame details just parts.

Nutted non-recessed brake mounting, Campy portacatena pre-drilled dropout.

As far as I know, Campy introduced the portacatena set-up around 1977; but I do not know if this was just when the general public was first able to get it. I had a bike of known history with a frame made prior to 1977 which also was built from the shop with Campy dropouts for use with the portacatena system. One would assume that Campy had this system in development stages for years prior to its official introduction making it quite plausible and more than reasonable for frames to have been made in anticipation of the new gadget/gimmick soon to hit the market before circa 1977; also evident of how much of a flop the design was: you would still see those portacatena dropouts being used on some new frames well after the system was discontinued (have to get rid of the old stock somehow).

The frame may be of 1977 design (even though purchased in '76) given the fork features, but I have never seen those decals (paint and decals are original) on any Super or any other model. I have compared those decals to assumed model years from the early '70s up to 1980 on beyond, and I still have not seen those decals on another Colnago frame. Any ideas? The decals on the green bike are the closest in looks, but are quite obviously different; and I have seen those decals on many frames although without knowing the years of frame manufacture.

With the known facts I would not be able to call it a 1977 (or later) model, nor given specific features (portacatena dropout, fork crown pantograph) call it a 1974 model (or earlier). It does not match anything so I'll stick calling it circa 1976 model until someone has definitive proof to show otherwise. If there is evidence that Campy never had a dropout pre-drilled for using a portacatena in 1976 then I'll call it a 1977 when I am sure Campy already had the portacatena dropouts being manufactured.

Unfortunately, Colnago (and many other builders) often changed features mid-stream during a "model year", had most features available as build options (chrome, paint, braze-ons); and their own catalogs were often inaccurate, both in description and image (poor images, stock photos used for multiple years even when features changed); pretty much until late '80s to '90s. If Colnago themselves do not know, how are we ever going to establish something definitive? We cannot; it will just be best guesses unless a "Colnago Rossetta Stone" is unearthed by anthropologists in the distant future.

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Old 12-26-20, 09:41 AM
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OP-Can you post the original listing photo that caught your eye?
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Old 12-27-20, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jingy2 View Post
OP-Can you post the original listing photo that caught your eye?
The photo is no longer online. What first caught my eye was the listing header "Women's Italian racing bike". Since I was searching for Italian parts I assumed it would have some, and also assumed it would be a smaller frame (possibly even a junior frame) so it peaked my curiosity. When I first saw the photo I really could not make out the brand until I took a closer look. It was written up as a Colnago bike 51-53 cm in the description. I could tell from the photo that it was a smaller frame than 51 cm and had what appeared to be Colnago decals; I assumed if a Colnago, it would be a lower model than a Super or it was not a Colnago, but just had those decals added; mostly due to asking price. I could not discern the color; I had to ask the seller what is was.

The added part of this story is the fact that the bike had been "purchased" before I called the bike shop for its specifics because of the lack of photographic details, and also since I lived 2.5 hours away and I did not want to drive without good cause. During his description of the bike another employee informed the person to whom I was talking to that the bike was already sold (which did not surprise me given the price). I said good day and figured that was the end of it and sent a message to the seller thanking her for her time and informing her that the bike had already been sold (why did she not already know?). Early the next morning (and I mean early!), I get a message from the seller saying she will be off during certain hours, and should she come to the bike shop? I was thinking she was confusing me with the actual buyer; I did not reply, but I did call back to the bike shop minutes after they opened hoping to hear good news. Apparently, the "buyer" never showed up or called so the bike was still available to first comer. Given that the shop knew I had already talked with the owner and I had already told the shop when I would arrive (before I was told it was sold), they assumed the seller would contact me due to my interest in it, and they were already holding it expecting me to show. I told the shop I was on my way, and would they please hold it until I got there; but they already were! Finally got back with seller during transit to give my arrival time frame if she wanted to meet. I got to the shop, and now seeing the bike clearly for the first time, was extremely impressed by it; it certainly exceeded my expectations after seeing it as a dim photo with a rack and the thick foam bar grip (obvious even in the poor photo). This time when I contacted the now previous owner to tell her that the bike was sold it was a fact. So I am lucky to have it; just needs a better set of parts even though it is not bad as it sits now without the rack, computer, reflector, saddle, and foam grip which were quickly removed; cleaning, quick maintenance and safety check before a ride with present set-up excepting a proper saddle. I know it needs about a 110-130mm stem for me, and might put 172.5-175mm cranks on it, smaller frames make better climbing bikes for me and I like the extra leverage of a longer crank on hills; I am not that large or heavy so it helps.

The photo below is modified to approximate only listing photo which was of the non-drive side, was much smaller in the picture frame, and was out of focus; thus making it useless to enlarge the photo. It looked like a photo of a photo if you know what I mean. It certainly did not help sell the bike. Good photos could have easily doubled the price; but the bike shop is to blame for the low cost since they told her that $1000 was too high (not for an asking price which I expect to higher than the selling price), and gave her an asking price that was so low I would not think of haggling about it; someone did make a lowball offer (could have been photo related) which was rejected (and rightly so!).
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Last edited by HPL; 12-27-20 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Added info
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Old 12-27-20, 04:09 PM
  #24  
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I would like to apologize for the representation of the blue Super as circa 1975 since I had been told it was the year of purchase. Because I am certainly no expert, nor was I present when said purchase took place, although I knew of the general details regarding it, and because of comments given providing expanded insight into its vintage; I sent a message off to my friend telling him to research his personal history around the time he said he bought the bike in 1975 which is all I had to go on regarding the year of manufacture. We were both in the US Navy, but he was in Italy before myself when he had travelled to Europe and purchased the bike; I was with him when he bought his new frame to replace it. Knowing we had "cruise books" for our naval travels I figured he could determine when he was there. Voila! He replied and apologized to me because he was one year off of when he originally told me he had purchased it. So it becomes that he purchased the frame in the latter half of 1976 vice '75. It could be a '77 model frame, I do not know. Decals remain a mystery! Everything else holds true for what was previously stated except for the one year time differential. I have amended my entries to reflect this information. At this time I cannot verify the brake mount (exposed/recessed) since frame is at another property (far away and a 2 week quarantine to get it now) and photos were what I had on file.

Thanks again for all the help!

Happy New Year! Stay safe people!

Last edited by HPL; 12-28-20 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 12-28-20, 07:12 PM
  #25  
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Update on the green Super. I was planning on contacting the previous owner and ask some specifics about the bike since we never met, but she contacted me today and said she found the original toe cages and straps that essentially had my been unused and wanted to know if I wanted them; yes, of course. I then asked her if she was the original owner, year when she came into possession of it (whether new or used), and if it had ever been painted. She knew she had gotten it after graduating from college and getting married in 1981, so latter 1981 at the earliest and no later than 1983 by her accounts. It was bought new as frameset only; her now ex-husband bought it and "ordered part, by part, and had it put together for me. Nothing was used"; her words exactly. She actually told me that she would try to find her ex's number to call and find out more. It has never been repainted or had decals replaced. She knows some parts have been changed, but other than the wheels and saddle she is not sure. It may have had a Campy "Gran Sport/Nouvo Gran Sport" full or partial group since it still has pedals and brakeset from that group. The other components span a wide range of years from the late '70s (arabesque headset) to the early '90s (Athena derailleur); excepting the fairly modern wheels and saddle. If brakes and pedals are original then this bike has not been crashed; brake lever blades are nearly unmarked and pedal cages are not bent or badly scraped up.

From a supposed 1983 Colnago catalog was I able to discern "COLNAGO" stamped into the chainstay, chainstay bridge was different, and bottom cable routing on the BB shell. Fork, head lugs, decals looked the same. Chromed drive stay and fork/crown in '83 photo.

I figure '70s are out of the picture, but it could have been an old stock frame from 1980 (nobody wanted a no chrome frameset?), or possibly up to an '82 model before features changed by 1983. I do not know when the chainstay stamping was added, or when the chainstay bridge was altered. I now assume '81-'82 based on the decal match to '83, which also fits properly with her recollections.

Now that I have had a chance to think about this bike I have decided to go green and yellow color scheme. I have, if they are with my on hand parts: Modolo gold anodized brakeset, black Hoskar saddle with yellow Colnago embroidery, yellow toe straps (needed), yellow bar tape, yellow bottle cage (needed, or paint one), green bottle (needed), and repaint chain ring and seat post pantographs yellow and green.

If I find out anymore information about this frame I will update this post, and if I get to it add a finished photo (which I rarely seem to do).

My only questions are does anyone have a known '81 or '82 model that uses those same decals? And if so, is the chainstay stamped with Colnago or not, and is the chainstay bridge tubular or hourglass shaped? Do the shift cables run above or below the BB?

Thanks again!

Last edited by HPL; 12-28-20 at 07:22 PM.
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