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 lfgss.com…

“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..

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Rauler is the second brand,

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“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…

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

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

Celo Europa/Marcel Calborn in Southern California..

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

Celo Europa…

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Colnago…

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VAGACINI

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 ..

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and the Vagacini one..

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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 ……

COLNER

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

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

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

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

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

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the original had star cut outs..

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and the other brand

CORNELO

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

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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…

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

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

The other two main culprits are again Belgian

LOVERDI
and

MARTELLY

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this example has a Cinelli casted bottom bracket shell…

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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…

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this is a  MARTELLY..

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

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

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like this original circa 1972…

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

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

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

no mudguard mounts,(most poor copies have these)

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

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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

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Colnago or Club bottom bracket detailing,

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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

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the real deal, but an unusual bottom bracket..

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Colnago or Campagnolo fork drop-outs

Seat stay caps are  hollow,

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hollow with Colnago cut

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or capped with Colnago cut into the top,

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

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There are 3 exceptions,

The Colnago Oval CX( CX cut out)

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 Export (Export cut out)

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

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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…

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