There was a time when riders drilled holes and milled channels in components as a means of making them lighter. Eventually, these modifications also became a means of artistic expression, and few bikes exemplified this practice better than the 1972 Colnago Super Pantografata.
The Super Pantografata was Colnago's flagship road racing bike at the time. It was based on a standard Columbus steel tubed Super frameset but dressed up with a radically 'pantographed' version of Campagnolo's Nuovo Record group. This wasn't some sort of special edition that Campagnolo provided, however, but something Colnago went out and did on its own.
"There was no collaboration with Campagnolo about the decoration," Ernesto Colnago told BikeRadarthrough company representative Alessandro Turci. "At that time, Campagnolo did not agree to that job. They were manufactured by hand by an Italian craftsman close to Colnago. [It was] a masterpiece."
In this case, the holes aren't just there to help save a few grams
Campagnolo may not have given Colnago its blessing but the outcome was stunning. Lightening holes were drilled in the brake levers, for example, but their placement was carefully chosen so they actually added to the Nuovo Record group's already gorgeous aesthetic. Likewise, the slots milled into the chainrings reduce their weight but also turn them into rotating pieces of artwork, rather than just a consumable drivetrain item.
Shallow slots were also milled into the upper portion of the seatpost, but simple holes or slots simply would not do for the shift levers. The interiors were removed entirely, leaving just a minimal – but beautiful – outline in its place.
The shift levers are lighter than stock, yes, but they're also somehow more beautiful, too
Even more impressive are the various Colnago logos and diamond patterns carved into several of the components. Still-visible milling marks clearly indicate that they were created by human hands, not a machine connected to a computer. Most of the modifications were embellished with various colours of paint.
The Super Pantografata wasn't just a standard Super dressed up with special parts, either. Unique identifying features on the frame include chromed lugs with holes drilled in the fork crown, while the included Silca Impero frame pumps were finished to match – complete with a properly placed Colnago logo that lines up perfectly with the one on the seat tube.
The stock Cinelli 1A stem was decorated as well
Ernesto Colnago says that he doesn't remember how much the Super Pantografata cost back then, but he did confirm that it was the top-end model for the time.
"It's very difficult to know that," he said from Colnago's headquarters in Cambiago, Italy. "Too much time [has passed] to remember. [It was] a high price bike for the early 70s – like a C60 today."
The owner of this bike wisely rode it for just one year before hanging it up for safekeeping
What we do know, though, is that the bike is still stunning to behold more than 40 years later. Modern bikes may offer better performance than this aging steed but few will be cherished like this one in another four decades.
Special thanks to the folks at The Pro's Closet, who will soon open up a museum of noteworthy vintage bikes at their headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.
- Frameset: 1972 Colnago Super
- Headset: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Stem: Cinelli 1A Pantografata
- Handlebars: Cinelli Giro d'Italia 64
- Tape/grips: Cinelli cotton
- Front brake: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Rear brake: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Brake levers: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pantografata
- Front derailleur: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pantografata
- Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Shift levers: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pantografata
- Freewheel: Regina Oro 5-speed, 14-22T
- Chain: Regina Oro
- Crankset: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pantografata
- Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Pedals: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
- Rims: Nisi tubular, 36h
- Front hub: Campagnolo Nuovo Record, 36h
- Rear hub: Campagnolo Nuovo Record, 36h
- Spokes: 14g stainless steel w/ brass nipples
- Front tyre: Clement Criterium Seta Extra tubular
- Rear tyre: Clement Criterium Seta Extra tubular
- Saddle: Cinelli Unicanitor
- Seatpost: Campagnolo Nuovo Record Pantografata