Colnago is the history of cycling!
From a young age, Ernesto Colnago knew that he wanted his life to be in bike racing. By age 13, the Italian was already racing for Gloria Bikes. When he was 20, he suffered a career-ending cycling crash, but instead of giving up on his dreams, he switched focus and began working as a race mechanic and opened his own bike store.
By 1954, Ernesto produced his first bike frames. Since the beginning, Colnago frames were known for featuring high-quality steel that could stand up to the demanding conditions of bike racing. His bikes were soon the pick of the top racers and by 1960 Italian Luigi Arienti won a gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Rome on a Colnago as part of the four-man team pursuit.
In 1963, Ernesto served as the chief mechanic for the successful Molteni team, which included cycling legend Eddy Merckx and Gianni Motta. In 1970, Molteni’s Michele Dancelli won the famous one-day race, Milano-San Remo, on a Colnago bike. Two years later, Merckx broke the one-hour record on a super light and highly innovative Colnago frame. Since its launch, athletes have ridden Colnago’s to 11 gold medals at the Olympic Games, 61 world titles on the road and track, 18 World Cup victories and 21 Grand Tours stage wins totaling more than 7,000 victories.
Up to this point, Ernesto did not mass-produce or publically sell his bikes. Based on these recent successes, he started selling his Colnago bikes, and the timing was perfect. Colnagos were part of a U.S. cycling boom in the 1970s.
Throughout the years, Ernesto has always been open to improvement and using innovative materials in his frames. By the 1980s and with the help of famed Italian car manufacturer Ferrari, the frames started to incorporate titanium, aluminum and carbon fiber to make them the lightest yet stiffest frames on the market. In 1987, Ernesto invented the straight fork for the road bike. It is called the “Precisa” and it redefined the look and function of the road bike. Later that same year, Colnago and Ferrari Engineering developed the first carbon frame with lugs for a road bike.
Due to this eye for innovation, Colnagos have always been known for being groundbreaking in their materials and how they integrate components. Watch this interview with Ernesto Colnago and listen to him describe the various iconic Colnagos throughout the years:
For more than 40 years, Colnago has sponsored at least one professional cycling team, often sponsoring several teams per season. This included World Champion Giuseppe Saronni, the Mapei Cycling Team, Rabobank and the US-based domestic squad Navigators, which was home to Team Novo Nordisk’s general manager Vassili Davidenko.
Since 2015, Team Novo Nordisk has raced on the Colnago C60s on the road and K-Zeros for time trials. We will continue to proudly race on Colnagos but you will have to wait to see what our bikes look like for the 2018 season!