How to identify a fake or genuine Colnago

How to identify a fake or genuine Colnago

The rise in interest in vintage Colnagos has led to a number of fakes appearing on the market,and as a number of owners have contacted me re. their bikes provenance, here’s what I go by and have learned in identifying a genuine Colnago.

Here’s a quote from a forum member (Edwardz) at…

“Back in the 1970s there were a number of very poor quality Colnagos sold in the US. They were of such mediocre build quality that Ernesto claimed they were counterfeits— I actually sat behind Ernesto on a flight many, many years ago but we chatted about cycling sport and not his frames. There was little to believe that they were not. apparently there was a real mess in the distribution channels and with the “Italian bike boom” blazing— Colnagos were in the 1970s what Rolex watches were in the 1980s… I have heard a number of stories about the fakes but with subcontracting and the Italian tradition to copy— who said it was a Chinese thing— its hard to spot the truth… The mass of fakes and some not-so-stellar real Colnagos nearly knocked them off the map for a while…”

There are 3 brands that can claim lineage to Colnago legitimately..

the first is Alan, who made the Dual and Carbitubo for Colnago, as well as this Colnago Mapei GB frame set from my own collection..


Rauler is the second brand,


“One or both brothers worked for Colnago before starting up the Rauler marquee. It is unsure just what the relationship with Ernesto was, but what is known that the name Rauler is from Raul and the first two letters of Ernesto, hence Rauler. Rauler became one of the top contract builders for Colnago and did much of the pantographing for them as well.” (source)

The Rauler brand was said to have developed pantographing for Colnago, and could be said to have inspired the intricate lug work on the Colnago Arabesque…


here you can compare to similarities between the two brands..


the third brand is Celo Europa, these frames were made by Colnago for

Celo Europa/Marcel Calborn in Southern California..




the seat stay caps and lugging share similarities with the mid to late ’70’s Colnago Mexico..

Celo Europa…





This brand is sometimes confused as Colnago built ,and is actually from the Gemertse region of the Netherlands , and owned byRens van Ganzewinkel , who is the main man at Codagex , the Benelux Colnago distributor and the name Vagacini is an amalgamation of VAnGAnzewinkelCycleImportNederlandItalia (source )

Vagacini actually sprayed frames in silimar Colnago type decor , possibly using the same painters within the Benelux due to the Codagex connection , and associate has told me he bought a number of un painted  Colnago Bi Titian frames ( 32 in one go ! ) from Codagex on the strict grounds that he use their approved painter befor relasing onto the market…take this Colnago Master Panasonic Isotar decor ..


and the Vagacini one..


The brand also made aluminium frames from Columbus Airplane , as Colnago did with the Lux Dream…

The Fakes

Firstly, I have only seen ‘fakes” in the earlier versions of Colnago’s, I suppose it would be difficult to fake a Lux Dream with the over sized crimped tubes or a C50 Superlight where you can see the quality of the carbon used in the weave pattern .

There are also three main culprits in the ‘field of fake’ Colnagos, both Dutch/Belgian manufacturers ……


This brand does have lineage to Colnago, and was marketed by Ernesto,more about it at the legendary,


notice the ”Spade”‘ cut on bb, Colnago’s always have a club


again with the ”spade”, here are Colnago lug and fork crown cut outs



here’s a strange thing , a crashed Colner Colnago Cyclocross,


Colner produced a number of other fakes in the late ’70’s to mid ’80’s , including their rendition of the Viner Special..


the original had star cut outs..


and the other brand


A brand owned by a Henk Kokke of Kokke Sport , and made in Sint Willebrord, the Netherlands,paintwork was done in Belgium.

Henk was a fan of Ernesto’s work, and amalgamated his son’s name Corne with Colnago,

This company actually used Columbus Gilco tubing on a model, and the frames are highly regarded



Cut outs on lugging tend to be heart shaped.

The Belgian brand U Scannini also produced a road bike in the early 90’s with gilco tubing and chromed headtube lugging, easily identifiable by the “U.Scannini”cut out on top of the bb shell, here’s an example I sold a while back…


here’s an attempt at a Colnago, listed on a Belgian auction site,



but look at the head tube / top tube lug, not one used by Colnago.

The other two main culprits are again Belgian





this example has a Cinelli casted bottom bracket shell…


Martelly made lugs with inverstment cast ‘clover’ ,  this frame has a  stamp on the head tube lug, notice each ‘leaf’ on the clover stamp is bigger than a Colnago stamp, and the end on the ‘stem’ on this example differs to Colnago, fork crowns visibly have no stamping either…


this is a  MARTELLY..

another fake,  look at the leaves on the ‘clover’…



only a very few early Colnagos had a ‘proper’ clover on the seat tube / top tube lug..


like this original circa 1972…

camp colnagoz

look at this one, sent by an unfortunate buyer for apraisal …

IMG_20141101_144651451_HDR IMG_20141101_145710387

Three main rules then for the late 70’s to mid ’80s Colnagos…..


Two  cable guides on top tubes, on some three..

no mudguard mounts,(most poor copies have these)


The exception to this rule applies to the earliest Colnagos, which had three Campagnolo cable clamps on the top tube




Clear coated decals-if  on a re-sprayed original may not be clear coated,

below is a Colnago Mexico circa ’77 from my own collection, had been resprayed with new non clearcoated decals



Colnago or Club bottom bracket detailing,







The Oval CX got its own stamp again..

Colnago Bottom Bracket Detail underside

and the very early Colnago Supers had drilled holes,

like Greg Softley’s

his collection is here

There is one anomaly, I recently added this to the collection, a very rare Colnago Super CX


the real deal, but an unusual bottom bracket..


Colnago or Campagnolo fork drop-outs

Seat stay caps are  hollow,


hollow with Colnago cut


or capped with Colnago cut into the top,


or on certain higher end models from the mid ’80s up until the Tecnos, Club cut outs


There are 3 exceptions,

The Colnago Oval CX( CX cut out)


 Export (Export cut out)


and ’90’s  MTB’s (only the Master MTB had  detailing).


Geometry is also a give away on a fake, always check the back wheel to seatube space.

Even back in the day, the originals were tight…


This example is owned by a friend , ( a renowned Tuscan trader of Colnagos ) ,  and the lug cut out by the down tube and head tube junction differs from the usually Clover or Club ….

It is an original Colnago , but the fabrication was outsourced to frame builder Losa 

130 thoughts on “How to identify a fake or genuine Colnago

  1. Hi
    Just purchased what appears to be a genuine Master frame, but the head lugs are painted and initial exploration indicates that they were never chromed. Paint looks original. All the clovers and Colnago branding are present and correct, the Gilco tubing looks right, and based on your excellent information it looks pukka inn every respect apart from the head lugs. Was there ever a Master with these painted not chromed?



    1. Hi
      Glad you like the blog , I have a team Buckler master with unpainted head tube lugs, there are some out there like it , can also be an indication the frame has been refurbished / repainted though

  2. I recently aquired a bike that has Colnago stickers but L stamps and anL cutout on bottom bracket. Can you tell me anything about it?

  3. Hi Do you think this is a real Colnago. eBay vendor claims it is an 80s team team bike confirmed to be real by Ernesto Colnago when he visited his bike shop??
    “This NEW early 80s frame size 23 Center to top top tube 22 CTC THIS IS A RARE ONE ~you’re probably never ever seen a real COLNAGO TEAM FRAME MADE IN ITALY BY COLNAGO FOR THE POLISH TEAM YES TURE (Ernesto Colnago verified it himself in my shop early 80s and he was not happy that I had two of them ) confirms that it’s real made for the Polish team this is a rare opportunity to own this will take a look at the pictures you’ll probably never see another one like it”

      1. That’s great – I quickly came to the same conclusion myself and have arranged to buy the frame 🙂 Very excited about owning my first Colnago! I’m still curious about the frame though, just bc I want to know what I’m riding about on :p The seller reckons late 80s – do you agree?

      2. There should be a bunch of photos the vendor took here:
        if you click “continue to site” the page of ads will disappear and the photos will load. There are photos of BB cutout, seat stays, lugs etc. The top of the seat stays have cut out clubs that look exactly like the ones in the photo on your post.

        Otherwise I should receive the frame in the next week or so and can load some specific photos if you tell me what you need to see?

        As I said, I’m sure the frame is certainly genuine but I’d love to know more about the frame’s history/model/year of making etc. This is my first properly nice frame and I’m mad excited! 😀

      3. Hi

        I’d say it’s a 2nd gen Master , circa 91-96 , I am unable to give and exact date , maybe catalogs from that
        time scale may show models with same decor.
        Enjoy the ride!

  4. Could you tell me if this is the real thing. Thanks.

    Colnago Super Columbus SL talle 54×54
    Levers Gipiemme Special c/platos Gipiemme 42/53
    Pedales Gipiemme Special
    Manijas Gipiemme Special
    Herraduras Gipiemme Special
    Descarrilador delantero Gipiemme Special (Triplex)
    Descarrilador Trasero Gipiemme Special (Triplex)
    Hubs Gipiemme Special
    Seat Gipiemme
    Regina Synchro
    Aros Dialcar doble pared
    Tires Specialized All Condition
    Vela 3ttt 27,2
    Caja Pedalera COBRA (Re tana, figurita dificil)
    Shimano 600 Arabesque
    Stem Cinelli 1A
    + Cinelli Campione del Mondo 66-40×54-bicicleta-de-ruta-clasica-_JM#D%5BS:HOME,L:RECOMITEM-CORE-UNO-HISTORYITEMS,V:0%5D

      1. Thank you for answering so quickly. Gipiemme instead of Campagnolo. Is that ok ?
        Looks neat. I like it. The price is about 800 bucks but I can get it for 500. What do you think; should I or should I not?

      2. frame set seems real, if by gipiemme you mean components , you can’t always judge a frame by its parts
        if you are happy with 500 , give it a try!

    1. I don’t think that is a Sarroni model , that range came with Sarroni stamped fork crowns and Sarroni stamped on the seat stay caps , the stay bridge does not seem consistent with the original models either , I’ d leave it alone

  5. Hi there ! First thanks for this blog, amazing work done !
    So I really want to buy this babe, But i’m not sure about the model, looks like an oval to me …
    I never see tha paint scheme either, just see one other on a lux dream, but not that exact color (more orange & yellow, more pop).
    Last thing : the price … look very cheap, so is that a reaaaaal good deal, or a fake ?

    Thx to helping me before i did the best hold up or the worst investment …

      1. Hi saarf
        Thanks for the reply, I hadn’t even thought of the Piu. The Columbus sticker does say ‘Spiral Conic’ on it as well as SLX. I took a couple more pics can I upload them to your site?

  6. Hi I recently bought a colnogo and it does not have any clubs stamped on the top tubes or anywhere else but instead has a Heart shape ive been told however this is a bottom end spec that ther made and never realy got exported to uk. What do think fake and bulshit or true 🚴👍cheers che

  7. I need to verify if my colnago is real or fake can someone send me an email so I can email you my photos

  8. Hi,

    I am looking at buying a purple Colnago Decor (seem to be the model named DECOR, not a Master with the Decor paint). Can you give me some backgroun on this model? The components are Campagnolo Daytona so it should be from the year 2000 or 2001.

    1. The purple painted Colnago I have is the Super Pui, from 1994 I believe,if you have any images of your intended purchase we may be able to reach a stronger conclusion


  9. Hi, thanks for all this info. Very useful!

    I have just come across an Arabesque with a few things that I am not sure about:
    1. it has been repainted, and from what I can tell incorrectly, the chrome on the rear tube and chain stay has gone to full white and the decals are stuck over the paint, no clear cut.
    2. The stamp ‘D 9’ on the right dropout as well as on the head tube of the fork. What does D 9 would mean? Is it normal for the fork to be stamped too? The head tube of the fork has been grinded/sanded down on 80% of it as well as where the stamp is so I found suspicious.
    3. The right dropout, where the stamp is, is very slightly bent onto the inside, so the wheel hardly get inside.
    4. Everything else looks perfectly colnago arabesque like.

    What is your opinion? I can send you pictures.


  10. Hi, I have just come across a colnago arabesque which has been resprayed (incorrectly I believe as the rear wheel tubes chain stay are all white and the decalcs are simply stuck on the top of the paint, no clear coat), but what intrigued me is that the dropout that is stamped on is slighly bent. The stamp on the dropout is D 9. Same stamp on the top fork tube but it was on the top of lots of sanding marks all over the tube for some reasons…everything else was perfectly ‘colnago arabesque’ like. What is your opinion?

  11. Hello, would just like to say thank you for compiling this very informative website!
    I have a question- to your knowledge, do you know if fake colnago precisa forks have ever been manufactured? Ie. ones with similar crowns, clover cut outs and straight fork blades, but that might have some aspects that give it away?


  12. Hi! Thanks for putting this together. I guess like a bunch of people before me, I’m now also wondering if a bike I’m interested in buying is a fake or not. What do you think about this Colnago Merckx: The clovers look correct, as do the hollow seat stay caps. He does say the frame has been re-painted and that’s obvious from the photos. The cable routing also seems period correct. Any insight you can provide would be much appreciated! I’m only a beginning student of vintage steel bikes so am not really sure about the whole package… Thank you!

    1. Hi

      You are correct in your analysis, is a period correct early 70’s model,
      very nice!
      Hope this helps and you are successful!

  13. Mr saarf

    Can you check my email regarding a colnago frame.

    Everything but BB shell clover seems authentic.

    If there is no clover or name under the BB, can you see it as a real colnago?

    Thanks in advance.

  14. please check this one for me as well Saarf.

    It’s the one at the back. seller claim it’s also a nuovo mexico, also been repainted.
    The weird thing is it’s got 3 cable guide. I’ve read some of the post on bike forums, some stated it’s genuine, some don’t. would like to hear your opinion on this one as well.

    please check the link below

    hope you can get back to me soon, as the previous one has been sold 😦 and i was so disappointed.

    Thank you very much!

      1. quite confuse right now. would you point out the difference more speicifically? ive studied a lot of credited photos of nuovo mexico online, even the blue nuovo mexico you posted earlier.

        i even tried comparing to the one i sent you, i am not seeing much difference on frame 😦

    1. Hello 2mush
      I can confirm this guy is genuine – I bought the 50cm nuovo mexico – sorry!
      I’ve even stripped it down to checked everything over and it is an original. It has been resprayed as I think most of his bikes are and I’m not overly impressed with the decals (they’re a bit out of true but fairly easy to replace as there’s no lacquer over them).
      My advice is to try to knock a bit off the cost as he’s open to negotiations!!

  15. dear saarf,

    i am currently looking into my first vintage roadbike, have been doing a lot of research lately and came across your website, a lot of good read! thank you for sharing your knowledges to the public!

    i have found a colnago nuovo mexico online for sale, and would love to hear your opinion and insight on the bike. also would be great if you can identify if this is a authentic piece or not.

    attach is a link to the photos and the info that the seller has posted for me. please get back to me when you have the time! looking forward to hear from you!


    1. Hi Jason

      Thanks for the email
      That’s a very fine restoration piece, fantastic!
      Looking at the images, in 10 and 13 I can see a crease inside the chain stay, and in 17 I can
      see 1 crease down the side of the down tube
      this is indicative of the Super profil model, not a Nuovo Mexico

      Hope this helps!

      1. any big disadvantage between the super and the nuovo mexico? the only thing i can think of is the super older in age.

        for a price of $1600 euro, would this be a good investment?

        thank you!

      2. The Nuovo Mexico was the top of the tree in it’s day, and a precursor to the
        Master Olympic, the profile Super is more common, both were top frames though
        price is not the cheapest, but it’s in very very good spec

        hope this helps

      3. please check this one for me as well Saarf.

        It’s the one at the back. seller claim it’s also a nuovo mexico, also been repainted.
        The weird thing is it’s got 3 cable guide. I’ve read some of the post on bike forums, some stated it’s genuine, some don’t. would like to hear your opinion on this one as well.

        please check the link below

        hope you can get back to me soon, as the previous one has been sold 😦 and i was so disappointed.

  16. I have a Colnagp dream HP that a friend told me was probably a Taiwanese reproduction. He cited the fact that it had a clamp-on derailleur hanger rather than a braze-on. It has even an absolutely fantastic bike and the details such as the paint and biconic tubing seem very authentic. Any advice?

      1. Here are a few pics. I’ve searched a good many sites and see others similar to this that require clamp-on’s. Thoughts. Happy To send as many as you need to make a determination. Thanks for your help.



  17. Hello,i want to buy a Colnago Mexico but i don’t know it is real or not.Can i send some pics to you?I would be very grateful if you can help.



  18. Hello!
    I know that your blog post is essentially about a different era, but since it’s been kept alive by your generous help to potential buyers in need, I’ll ask anyway.
    I’ve been looking at second hand bikes online and this one turned up. They have other Colnagos on their site, which seem to me authentic, but this one is cheaper and I have a few other doubts, since I can’t find the model elsewhere. I’ll email you the pictures.
    Thank you for your time!


      1. Hi

        I’d say it’s original, it has prescisca (straight blade) forks consistent with Colnago, and the profiled top tube is consistant, I’d say its probably an entry level model, possibly columbus alutec

  19. hi saarf,

    i’m looking to buy a colnago super. But the Paint scheme is a bit different than the other Colnago Super that I’ve found. And also some of the Panto are found in unique place.
    If you have time please look at my post here. There are also more pictures below the post.
    If you don’t have the membership there please let me know I can send you the pictures to your email. Here is my email

    Here is the thread :

    Thank you so much

      1. Hi, Here is my single speed “Colnago Sport”. Do you know the story on these frames? I have seen others. No cut out under bb, no real markings as you point out in others. Stickers say made in Italy and Columbus aelle tubing. Bought it for not much with only a Gipiemme headset and bb. Nice chrome fork but again no markings.


        Geoff Halifax NS


      2. Hi Geoff

        Sorry for late response, moved home!
        here’s a discussion I contributed to a while back regarding the “Sport” model

        hope it helps!

  20. Dear saarf, I’m considering to acquire a new road bike supplementing my cross bike. I’ve been looking at new bikes, but now I’ve fallen in love with a beautiful secondhand Colnago in excellent shape with Campagnolo Chorus 10 sp, but without any papers. The seller bought it secondhand a few years ago and doesn’t know the age of it. There is a “Master” stamped on the top tube and the seller claims that it’s titanium. I’ve been searching the internet, but I have a hard time finding something that looks identical. Is there any way where I can be reassured that it’s titanium. You are my last straw… Can you help me? I have picture of the bike if that is of any help. If you know something about particular models to stay away from I’ll be happy for your inputs.
    All the best and thanks in advance.

      1. Hi Saarf,
        Thanks for your courtesy. I emailed you a couple of pictures earlier today. Can you identify it?
        Kind regards Lars

      2. Lars,
        I just purchased my first steel Colnago and am ready to make it a masterpiece. I know little about classic Colnagos and was wondering if you would help me identify the model and time period is was built. The frame is in good shape and the rear derailleur is Nuovo Record. This leads me to think the bike was manufactured at least before ’81. Your web site/blog is great. I appreciate the time you have devoted to your craft. What email address may I send pictures of my new find, in hopes that you can identify the model? Many thanks. PK, USA

  21. I bought a second hand Colnago Master online, and it looks real enough. But I would like to seek your help please, to confirm if it is genuine or not. The pictures can be found at

    1. One thing that is bugging me, is that the paint job for the ‘C’ and the ‘club’ under the saddle does not seem even or consistent.
    2. Another thing is the uneven application of the decal behind the seat tube. You can see in one of the pictures that the decal does not line up at the back.
    3. Lastly, the white part of the decal with the Colnago word on the frame is not exactly white. Under daylight, it looks off-white, with a slight pinkish tinge.

    Also, i have not been able to identify the exact model and year. Hope that you can help. Thanks very much!

  22. Hi. I am trying to figure out if this is really a Master Extra Light? I didn’t think the Masters had internal cabling on the top tube? Also dating this one with a threaded steerer seems to place it mid to late 90’s? And lastly making sure it’s authentic. I don’t see a serial number on the dropouts and the BB shell has no stamping or cutout. Can’t see if the HT lugs have the clubs engraved too. Thanks.

  23. Great article.

    I’m having a bike i want to sell with an U. Scanini frame, with “U.Scannini”cut out on top of the bb shell, and ‘Columbus’ cut out in the part of the frame which holds the rear wheel. Does this mean this frame also uses Gilco tubing?

    I read you sold the U Scanini one you pictured here. If the bike i’m talking about has the Gilco tubing, what do you think would be a good European price for it? And what would be a good price for it when offered outside of Europe, considering it has some cosmetic damage from crashing?


    1. Hi

      If it has been crashed damaged, the price could be quite dramatically affected, eg, if it has been in a head on collision it could be a write off.
      I am unsure if the U Scanini tubing is truly Gilco, but it would be fair to list it as comparable to gilco.

    1. Hi

      Yes, I’d say the frame is original, the Mega Master came in that decor, the forks are not factory issue though,
      Good luck with the purchase!

      1. Hi and thanks for the image link, allways make my job easier!
        I’d say it’s the real deal, the ‘Geo’ decor would be expensive and very labour intensive to replicate,
        the frame is lugged carbon, there may well be a serial no. under the bb or on the front mech hanger.
        There is as yet, no online resource relating to Colnago serial numbers, and the factory aren’t really forthoming when it comes to owners getting numbers checked.
        Best I can say is to try to view in person before the end of sale, and speak to vendor regarding provenance.

        Hope this helps!

    1. Hi

      The Master got the straight “precisca” forks circa 1992, and the ‘last’ Master type was from 1996, I’d say this frame set is circa 92, and it is in the Geo decor.

      1. Yes, it authentic, given the complexity of the Geo decor, it would be really hard and costly to replicate,I was told the Geo decor comes from the concept of Colnago covering the four corners of the World.
        Always a pleasure to help!

  24. Hello saarf, thank you for the brilliant article. I would like to ask your help in identifying the parts of this bike and how much could it be worth per total. How do I send you pictures?

  25. Hello there, I am having a hard time figuring this out. Is this a real colnago? The BB has a cut-out but it doesn’t look as clean as the ones showed in the references. Any kind of help what-so-ever would be much appreciated!!! I work for Louis Garneau Sports and don’t want to show off a fake vintage Colnago to my co-workers much less buy a fake for the asking price.

  26. Please I need your help!! I am going to buy a Colnago, and I dont know if is a real Colnago.
    Can I sent you some pictures, and you hel me???

    Thnaks in advance


      1. well, thanks for the pictures Victor, looking at the frame lugging, and non clover cut outs, I’d say FAKE!
        fake  2
        fake 3

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