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Thoughts on a Colnago Super

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Thoughts on a Colnago Super

Old 04-16-23, 09:31 PM
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PTL011
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Thoughts on a Colnago Super

So recently I finally picked up a bike I was very curious about, the Colnago Super (picture below). It's got all Campy Super Record with Modolo brakes. I was told that it was a mid to late 70s. Paid at a price that's a steal.

Put on a better set of tires (wolbers) and rode it for maybe 3-4 miles around the block. Call me a noob, but I honestly could not see how this bike was so great or greater than a much cheaper Formula II Bianchi Campione D'Italia I own. The feel is very similar...maybe the Colnago is somewhat more 'grounded', 'even-keeled', 'centered', 'balanced' perhaps just like the Bianchi. But the Bianchi was much more responsive. I tend to think of my Bianchi as a more balanced, grounded, and stiffer version of my beloved Centurion Ironman.

Have yet gotten to try my red De Rosa, but I am just writing this out of curiosity to why you pros think this bike, the Colnago is worth such the hype..At this point having tried the Masis (Gran Criteriums 74), Colnagos, Bianchis - including higher end ones, the French (high end Motobecane), British (Raleigh Prestige, Competition GS, Team Competition), and a smatter of upper mid leveled Japanese bikes from the late 70s and 80s, I really cannot see why the Italian or European bikes in general are considered better than the Japanese ones. They are so much stiffer and not necessarily faster. I will take a Japanese bike like a Nishiki Tri-A or a Centurion Turbo, Prestige, Ironman, Miyata 912 any day over a Italian bike from that era. What is it about the Italian bikes that makes them more desirable?


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Old 04-16-23, 09:46 PM
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Nice pick. Difficult to judge from that single pick, but first impression looks clean. Possibly 1980.

Not a 'pro' as you're looking for replies from but from my experience, the Colnago Super had much going for it and one reason why it became legendary. Ernesto pretty much set a standard in its geometry, good neutral balanced, confident and nothing nervous. Italian marques for the most part followed those characteristics. Columbus SL tubing has little to argue about.

The late Brian Baylis was quite fond of the Super model and inspired by its handling, something he liked to put into his frames.

To each, their own, some bikes are favored over others for a million different reasons. Ride on!
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Old 04-16-23, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by PTL011
What is it about the Italian bikes that makes them more desirable?
La Passione
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Old 04-16-23, 09:58 PM
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For starters, letís talk about the geometry. Colnago supers, unless custom have the exact same size seat tube and top tube with a tighter angle on the headset. ColnagoĎs also were famous for lowering the bottom bracket which increase chances of clipping on a tight corner, but gave the rider more power by having the bottom bracket closer to below your hips.

at the time, racers on other bikes were complaining that when pedaling hard while heading up hills, their frames had so much flex, they would often shift gears on the rear derailer.

my Raliegh professional/Carlton would do this. Thatís why I sold it.

Colnagoís goal has always been, to make a stiffest frame possible. After the super, he was instrumental in trying all sorts of tube development, from pinching tubes, adding ridges, both external and internal, hiring engineers to help design tubes, and shapes other than round, and was on the forefront of using current fiber.

The super did not change after 1981. But still, it compares nicely with MASI, Derosa, and Bianchi of that era. All of those bikes, I mentioned used Columbus SL except for MASI, who may or may not have used Columbus.

MASI would mix-and-match Columbus and Reynolds and never told you what you got.


I canít recall the first year of the Mexico, or the New Mexico, or the master, but after they came out, the supra was no longer considered the flagship of the fleet.

people loved the super, they continued to make him money, so he kept it in the catalogs probably longer than necessary.

personally, I have two. I love the way they perform. Very little flex. But you have to pay attention and donít take your hands off the bars for extended times.
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Old 04-16-23, 10:11 PM
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That seat post from the one image sure looks like it is beyond the limit line. Saddle is pretty tilted up, to the point that it is set that way by error or to compensate for something else that is amiss.

I ride a smaller frame but I find the Colnagos I have entertaining. From 1968 to 1985 there was a migration of geometry, my bikes present that, older are longer. Mid 70's are pretty stable to one another. Then rear triangles got shorter, later top tubes a smidge smaller.

"A lower bottom bracket provides for more power from the hips..." I cannot concept that.
in General the bottom bracket is the reference that the bike is set up from.

that said, not all like the same geometry. If you don't like it, and I think a chance it is too small, pretty sure you can find a buyer. Terrific color.

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Old 04-16-23, 10:30 PM
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Old 04-16-23, 10:52 PM
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Take this as an opportunity to focus on the bike brands, eras, and builds you like.

There is nothing wrong with failing to find what others love in a bike.
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Old 04-16-23, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by billytwosheds
Take this as an opportunity to focus on the bike brands, eras, and builds you like.

There is nothing wrong with failing to find what others love in a bike.
Bingo. Spot on. YMMV, vive le difference, etc.

The top-drawer bikes, including but definitely not limited to Colnagos, are top-drawer for a reason: lots of people like how they ride. But what I like in the way a bike rides and what you like may be quite difference.

The one thing I would say is you need to ride more than a few times around the block to know that it isn't your cup of tea. Give it a month or two of regular use. It may grow on you. If it doesn't, someone else will want it. If the price you paid really was a steal, someone will take it off your hands for a similar price, maybe more, and you will not have lost any money but gained some experience about what you like and don't like in a frame.

Also, repechage makes a valid point about the size. If the saddle height in the photo is right for you, it does look to my eye like the frame is small for you. That can make a significant difference in how much you like a bike's ride. I had a top-drawer frame in 60cm. It was good but not great. I know have the same marque in 64cm, and it's the best riding bike I have ever had.
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Old 04-16-23, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
...Terrific color.
...I agree. That color of blue on a Colnago Super of that time period is iconic.




Whether you like the ride of a particular bicycle is pretty much a matter of chance and personal preference. If you like the ride of Japanese production models, like the Ironman, better, then obviously you feel a difference. I have a couple of bikes I prefer over this one, but not by a whole lot. The California Masi frames are justifiably famous, and Cinelli's guy made some very fine bikes during this time period. Certain American custom frame builders are also famous.

I think you need to get past the idea that a steel framed bicycle "feels" different to you is somehow an indication that it is better or worse than another.

Japanese production frames feel a little more generic to me, but I've never owned any of the more desirable ones, like the Kono frames, or a Zunow.

You should own and ride what you enjoy. Is there a lot of hype about various old frame brands ? Sure there is.
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Old 04-17-23, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PTL011
. What is it about the Italian bikes that makes them more desirable?

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Old 04-17-23, 03:14 AM
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Yesterday, I took out three bike for a comparison for only 8 block RT. First was a 72ish Bottecchia Pro. Second was a '83 Colnago Superissimo The third was a 1988 De Rosa Pro.
The worst ride was the Colnago.
The other two have Vittorio Corsa G+ tires. One has clinchers and the other sewups. The Colnago has well used YJ 3/$50 sewups. I am going to swap them with the Bottecchia wheel set and do it again.
The Colnago was my first Italian and has several K mile on it, no tread on the center of the rear tire. Great memories of great rides. It is on the small size for me.
The memories are better than yesterday's ride. Requires a little more investigation.i suspect it's the tires.
As others have commented, the picture indicates too small a frame, if it's set up for you.

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Old 04-17-23, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by SJX426
Yesterday, I took out three bike for a comparison for only 8 block RT. First was a 72ish Bottecchia Pro. Second was a '83 Colnago Superissimo The third was a 1988 De Rosa Pro.
The worst ride was the Colnago.
The other two have Vittorio Corsa G+ tires. One has clinchers and the other sewups. The Colnago has well used YJ 3/$50 sewups. I am going to swap them with the Bottecchia wheel set and do it again.
The Colnago was my first Italian and has several K mile on it, no tread on the center of the rear tire. Great memories of great rides. It is on the small size for me.
The memories are better than yesterday's ride. Requires a little more investigation.i suspect it's the tires.
As others have commented, the picture indicates too small a frame, if it's set up for you.
Yes, Tires can be a game changer. Also , as we get a bit older , bikes that are on the small size tend not to be comfy any more. I used to ride my 60cm bikes on long rides and loved them. Lately , I can only do 2 hours or so before it ain't that comfy. My normal riding favorites are 62-64 cm. Fortunately , for me , my 1975 Super falls in my sweet spot at 62 cm!
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Old 04-17-23, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz
Colnago‘s also were famous for lowering the bottom bracket which increase chances of clipping on a tight corner, but gave the rider more power by having the bottom bracket closer to below your hips.
Maybe it's the pain meds but I'm having a hard time understanding this. A normal fit setup is making my saddle height a set distance above the BB and then the centerline of the saddle a set distance back from the BB. So how can any one bike be putting the BB closer to below your hips? Just curious if I'm missing the point here.
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Old 04-17-23, 10:12 AM
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As I wrote it, I struggled with finding the right words to get the point across. I'll go through old reviews and brochures to find the right verbiage.
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Old 04-17-23, 11:05 AM
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I've got to admit I really did like the ride of the one I had for awhile. It was just a size too small so I passed it on. I would put the feel on the road as being very much to my liking and would certainly pick up another in my size if it ever worked out that way.

I did run several wheel/tire sets on mine as I originally sorted it out and those do change the feel a bit. But from the getup the bike was always responsive and comfortable under me.
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Old 04-17-23, 01:15 PM
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I like the stable yet spirited ride on my '81 Super.... plus I agree, the color is iconic for Colnago, that blue is really something, here's mine, with Cobalto brakes and Mavic SSC bleu rims....


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Old 04-17-23, 02:46 PM
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It is all relative.

These bikes earned the reputation and following long before the late 70's. They were part of an elite class of bike for wealthy Americans and could/should be compared to "gas pipe specials" of the late 60's and 1970's.

Also, compare the workmanship to any Raleigh, especially one that must have been built on a "Monday morning or Friday after lunch".

By the late 1970's, the Japanese were copying everything they could get their hands on. They may have perfected the mass production of similar bikes but that came later. For my part, I always thought Japanese bikes felt "dead".

In the end, it is just a machine. Ride what you like.

My bike is red because I like red bikes. Red bikes are faster than your blue bike.

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Old 04-18-23, 01:30 AM
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Originally Posted by billytwosheds
Take this as an opportunity to focus on the bike brands, eras, and builds you like.

There is nothing wrong with failing to find what others love in a bike.
Turned out, out of now about 8+ bikes that I picked over the past year, most of them supposedly 'top tier', this one just turned out to be the perfect one of all. Forget about the RB-1s, Bianchis, Colnagos, Raleigh-High Ends, etc. I was very surprised. This honestly shocked me on how perfect it was. Whereas the Raleigh Competition GS was a pinpoint, razor edged, precise, short sprint type of bike, this thing was the long, nimble, dainty, but graceful glide at a fast pace.

Can any of you let me know if this bike was even considered 'good' in the line up back in the days? I did some research and found that Sheldon Brown thought Gitane bike mechanics were all drunks...but let me tell you, his recommended Motobecane Grand Record (I own the exact one that he had, the silver 73 with black nevex lugs) got NOTHING on this.

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Old 04-18-23, 02:39 AM
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Hi PTL011, I like Bianchigirll's answer - tradition. I have owned lots of bikes over many years and most seem to ride quite well (some don't) but I do have my favourites. I am influenced by that 'tradition' that Bianchigirll mentions but it is the 'tradition' that I have personally developed over my life with bikes. I love Italian bikes and Colnago is the brand I place at the top of my list. Why? probably because that was the brand I lusted after in my youth and couldn't afford. Why Italian? I was probably influenced by their personally perceived flair.

When I did get my first Colnago it fitted my average dimensioned body very well and had a very predictable ride. It was also responsive and stiff. That's not to say that I haven't found these same traits on many other brands of bicycle - I have to be honest. The Colnago did, however, quench my thirst for that bike I lusted after. All my Colnago's happen to be very nice riding bikes.

I do have a 1982 Bianchi Campione Del Mondo in great condition that is equally nice to ride but it just doesn't quite fill that little thing in my brain that says 'Colnago'. I have ALAN's and Pinarello's have had Olmo's, Tomassini's, etc and Also have a number of Australian marques .....and...... they all ride nicely but they are not a Colnago. If you blindfolded me and set me off on a ride (could be dangerous) could I tell the difference? Well ...... I think I now could - but they are all pretty close.

One other bike I do own and is perhaps closer to perfection for me is a Rossin Prestige. It does ride better and fits me better than my Colnago's (the best bike I have ever owned) but I will sell it before I could possibly part with some of my Colnago's (but not all my Colnago's).

I do have another bike I place above my Colnago's and that's a 1985 Cinelli Supercorsa. I will be buried with this bike. It is a bit of a pig to ride - very upright head and seat angles making it very 'twitchy' - but the Cinelli marque was and is the pinnacle of Italian bikes in my eyes. Yes, above my Colnago's. I LOVE this bike and, yes, I know, it's all just within my tiny little brain, haha. (Conditioned from my youth.)

Don't get me started on components - only Campagnolo for me. Why? Tradition. Is Campagnolo better than Shimano? Well, maybe, maybe not but it's Campagnolo for me.

What I'm trying to say is for many of us bike nuts, it's about the tradition and personal feeling. A lot of us, within this forum, feel this way about our favourite marques but we are not alone. There are also many bike riders that are more practical - a bike is a piece of sporting/transport equipment. And there are plenty of other bike riders that fit somewhere in the middle.

If you're happy with a bike that rides nicely and fits you well - that's fantastic. If it's cheap to buy - even better. We are all unique. If you don't get the 'spiritualness' of the bicycle....well....who really cares. Just enjoy the ride.

Your old Colnago Super: it's a lovely bike and, if you are of an average build, should fit you pretty well and it's geometry will be well sorted and pretty neutral. One of the good things about Colnago bikes is that they are all pretty consistent and well sorted out. It will do everything pretty well but won't be brilliant at anything: up hill, down the other side, on the flat, winding curves, long or short distance, it will be generally very good. I do love the old Campy Super Record and Modolo brakes - my lustful component era.

Your Gitane is a lovely looking bike with some great components too. Very eye-catching. The saddle angle looks a bit uncomfortable. I do like a bike that is a little out of the ordinary and your Gitane is that even though it is a well known and loved marque. I would guess at a 1970's build - love it.

Japanese, French, Italian, US of A, Australian, etc, etc. It's just a personal choice but I don't stray far from Italian.

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Old 04-18-23, 03:03 AM
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I have five rideable bikes now and for some reason my Moser is the only one that makes me smile. It is not the most comfortable, fastest or most robust but has the "it" factor for me. Possibly because it still keeps up as a 35y old bike with the new stuff on fast group rides.
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Old 04-18-23, 07:51 AM
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Very cool Colnago, love that blue with chrome. I have restored and enjoyed a Ď77 Super going on 9 seasons. The cool factor does it for me. It is a crowd pleaser and also garners the haters out in public. Our small town has itís share of tourism and have had guys holler at me on the street (they dig it) and have had impromptu photo sessionsÖnot for being pretty but because it is iconic for C&V.

You have a dandy!
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Old 04-18-23, 09:33 AM
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I enjoy all my bikes and some are iconic , some maybe not . The Competition GS I have is , as was stated , quick and tight . They all get comments from time to time " I had one of those in College"... and so forth or "I raced one just like that years ago". I was out on my 1975 Super, just after it got repainted by Franklin Frame . I was with my wife just cruising around the harbor , she was on her Townie and we stopped for a cup off coffee. We were siting at a bench across from our bikes and three different people came to look at it and comments "Wow, Colnago , what year is it?" My wife was amused .
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Old 04-18-23, 09:37 AM
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I have had a number of unsolicited comments of admiration about one of my Colnagos while at a coffee house.

for applause while out on the road, the Bertin C-37 wins, must be the black and chrome.
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Old 04-18-23, 09:39 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
I have five rideable bikes now and for some reason my Moser is the only one that makes me smile. It is not the most comfortable, fastest or most robust but has the "it" factor for me. Possibly because it still keeps up as a 35y old bike with the new stuff on fast group rides.
Moser was promoting his new ebike at an ebike shop in Santa Barbara yesterday.
amped up way back, amped up today, this time with electrons.
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Old 04-18-23, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by PTL011
Turned out, out of now about 8+ bikes that I picked over the past year, most of them supposedly 'top tier', this one just turned out to be the perfect one of all. Forget about the RB-1s, Bianchis, Colnagos, Raleigh-High Ends, etc. I was very surprised. This honestly shocked me on how perfect it was. Whereas the Raleigh Competition GS was a pinpoint, razor edged, precise, short sprint type of bike, this thing was the long, nimble but graceful glide at a fast pace.

Can any of you let me know if this bike was even considered 'good' in the line up back in the days? I did some research and found that Sheldon Brown thought Gitane bike mechanics were all drunks...but let me tell you, his recommended Motobecane Grand Record (I own the exact one that he had, the silver 73 with black nevex lugs) got NOTHING on this.
From the two images of the Moto and Colnago... huge differences in size and the saddle angles are so extreme. So much so that I suggest a classic aware bike fitter.
neither bike looks happy for the rider.
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