In the middle of the chaos of Eurobike a weekend or two ago in Berlin, a white wall towered above the crowds. On it, a selection of models from Colnago’s range was displayed, floating like carbon fibre clouds across a club-patterened sky.
One that was missing from the wall was the steel-framed Master which, thankfully, is still included in their catalogue. Spain’s Vintage Luxury Bicycles workshop came across this Master, a bona fide original, and applied some awe-inspiring embellishments.
Colnago’s Master lends itself well to gratuitous enhancements: its distinctive star-shaped Gilco tubing was a sensation when it was released to the public in the mid-80s. Originally created as a response to criticism that the frames weren’t stiff enough, the benefit of the unconventional tubes is still dubious.
Ernesto Colnago wasn’t just a businessman, he was a road racer until a serious accident ended his career. He opened his own workshop in 1952, building the first Colnago frames that year. He was also a highly regarded mechanic, wrenching for Faliero Masi and Eddy Merckx through the 50s and 60s.
This Master is Frame #695, rumoured to be one of the first seven hundred and fifty to be made. It was acquired in Spain by Javier Jubete, Principal of Vintage Luxury Bicycles, in an unrestored condition — exactly how Javier likes them.
Javier works with a small band of trusted colleagues to produce visions like this one. Previous projects that have been gilded by Vintage Luxury Bicycles include a Pinarello Montello, a Masi Special Track and a Ciocc San Cristobal. This is the third ‘Colnagold’ he’s created.
This Colnagold looks like might have been created by Ernesto for a Pope, but is actually assembled from parts that came from disparate sources. Many markets were scoured, such as the treasure troves at the recent Eroica Hispania event in Cenicero.
Other parts came from donor bikes and were refurbished by Javier before being gold plated and, along with the frame, impeccably painted and lined by Carlos Campelo at Lanas Paint Shop in León, Spain. Carlos’ usual subjects are custom motorcycles and scooters — even more spectacular.
The 24 carat gold-plated Campagnolo C-Record gruppo now adorns the Master, individually pantographed with the name of the frame and Ernesto’s club insignia, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more regal example.
Another Italian brand is prominent — Cinelli — represented by the matching leather handlebar wrap and 18 carat gold badge, Unicanitor saddle with aluminium rails, carrying a leather tubular bag. The handlebars are Campione Del Mondo, mounted with seductive brake levers, held by a Cinelli 1R stem.
The level of detail is superb. Even the rims are Campagnolo’s Record Strada, shod with special edition Clement tubular tyres for Colnago. The pantographing extends even to the cranks, and the gold plating continues even further outward to the pedals.
Javier enlisted the help of Master Jeweller Claudio Paniagua to create some of the most elaborate and exorbitant cable ends although thankfully the design of the legendary (or infamous, depending on your experience with them) C-Record brake calipers negates the need for them.
Any self-respecting Pope would be happy with this in his stable, and regardless, you might need access to his treasury to be able to afford it. It is actually for sale, although you might want to look elsewhere for a more practical bike for Eroica.