Colnago's Dynamic Duo: the Saronni Super and the Nuovo Mexico
Giuseppe Saronni. Eddy Merckx. Gianni Motta. These names are three of the most influential cyclists in road riding history, with numerous wins, titles, and accolades to their names. All names with whom Ernesto Colnago, the founder of Colnago, has worked with to build some of the most advanced and desirable bikes on the market. What began in a humble workshop in Cambiago, Italy is now known globally as one of the best race-bred cycling brands in the world today. While Colnago is now at the forefront of carbon fiber frame production, they're perhaps best-known for their excellence in lugged steel. These two bikes came to us courtesy of Alex (thank you!) and are among some of the most historically-important road bikes ever made. We are very excited to have these bikes on display at our Salt Lake shop. The Colnago Super is one of the most influential road bikes of all time. Colnago’s road racing legend started in 1968 with the Super, a Columbus-tubed race specific road bike that first featured the now-infamous Colnago “Asso di Fiori”, or “Ace of Clubs”. This logo defined multiple Colnagos ridden by the likes of Eddy Merckx and Giuseppe Saronni, and it continues to define their road bikes today. Upon introduction, the Super was lighter, more compact, and aggressive than nearly any other bike. It had a low head tube, shorter chainstays, and a compact top tube. That made for a bike that, compared to the long-wheelbase competition, traded straight-line comfort for nimbleness, low weight, and steering precision. More than anything, it's geometry inspired the geometry of several other companies looking to make a bike that could touch the Super. Original Supers were made of a combination of Columbus SL and SP tubing, with later years receiving more SL tubing to cut on weight and improve stiffness in the pursuit of speed. If you've ever seen an original Eddy Merckx in Molteni Orange (painted like the one here at our shop), there's a chance you've seen the Colnago Super as well. The Super also happened to be part of a serious growth period for Colnago. As more and more riders realized the aesthetic and competitive advantages Colnago had over many of their competitors, demand rose. While not as rare as the Colnago Nuovo Mexico, it's perhaps their most prolific model, and certainly one of the most iconic road bikes of all time. This Super Saronni Red, however, is as rare as it gets. This Super Saronni is dialed to the T. Any build with Colnago pantographed chainrings is pretty trick. However, the pantographed Saronni seatpost, stem, shifters, and brake pad holders make that seem almost.. mundane. Almost. Everything here is period-correct. Campagnolo provides the Super Record groupset and hubs, as well as the Saronni seatpost. Tubular Mavic rims, a Selle Italia Concor saddle, and a sew-on handlebar cover make this bike feel truly special. Perhaps the only Colnago that was technically better than the Super at it's time was the Nuovo Mexico, and this one is a prime example. The Nuovo Mexico, available only between 1982 and 1983, was characterized by a chromed fork, head lugs, seat and chain stays. It also has a dual-crimped top tube, two crimps in the downtube, and a sloping fork crown. This bike is painted in blue “Cromovelato”, a very light metallic blue applied over a chromed surface that shines even under low light conditions. Ernesto Colnago, ever the innovator, figured that if framebuilders crimp their chainstays for improved stiffness without increasing weight, then taking a bike and crimping other tubes would stiffen the bike up without adding weight. The gamble mostly worked, as the Nuovo Mexico was stiffer out of the saddle than the Super despite sharing the same tubeset and geometry. There were some complaints about instability at higher speeds, and as such later models received a second set of crimps in the downtube for greater stability. This tradition continues today, featured on the top of the line carbon fiber Colnago C64! This Nuovo Mexico features a Campagnolo C-Record non-indexed groupset, with first-generation Campagnolo Delta three-pivot brakes. These are rare in themselves. Some see this groupset as a holdover until Campagnolo released their Ergo shifters, and because the group was only in production for a few years in the late 80's, both the drivetrain and the brakes are exceptionally hard to track down in any condition. They're even more difficult to find in the near-perfect condition seen here. At the time, this groupset was heavier than top groupsets from Shimano and Suntour, but it's hard to imagine an 80's Italian bike with anything but period-correct Campy. A Cinelli XA stem, Cinelli Criterium bars, Mavic GEL 280 hard anodized rims laced to Campagnolo Record hubs, Selle Italia Criterium saddle, and Campagnolo C-Record pedals look great and perform better. Some companies may have made nicer bikes, but nobody else made as many innovative bikes that captured the imagination of cyclists around the world like Colnago. The Super Saronni and Nuovo Mexico were two of the best bikes at the time. Thanks again to Alex for lending us these beautiful pieces of history to be displayed at our shop.