1999 Colnago Oval Master Titanium
Despite the toy-store colors in the paint scheme this was once considered the most bad-ass racing bike in the pro peloton.
Serious racing bikes don’t have to be painted black.
This is a 1999 Colnago Oval Master titanium racing bike in the Mapei Team colors. Mapei is an Italian company that produces paint, adhesives, grout, and sealants for commercial and residential construction. The company has used professional cycling sponsorship for their advertising (sometimes joining with the Quickstep flooring company) for decades.
In case it isn’t obvious to you, the little blocks in the paint job represent bricks or floor tiles, and the fish-scale pattern is supposed to be tile adhesive as it would be spread on a floor.
So paint job aside, the frame is awesome. It’s made of 6/4 alloyed titanium, which is really the best (lightest, stiffest) but most difficult blend of titanium to work. The downtube starts out as a sheet of metal that gets folded into an oval shape and then welded at the seam. The top tube is drawn, squished or folded (we’re not really sure how it was made) into a diamond shape.
Now, if you’re used to thinking of “fast” bikes as ones that are molded into smooth, aerodynamic shapes out of carbon fiber, you’ll be excused for thinking that this bike would put you at a disadvantage on a fast club ride. Sure. This bike is twenty years old. It’s made out of 6/4 grade titanium (which is sooo 1990’s), not carbon, and it is equipped with second-tier components and older design elements that would suggest a rider aboard this bike would be immediately distanced by his buddies. Really though, there’s no chance. This bike is fast.
It handles perfectly (like most Colnagos), it’s plenty stiff (which helps on climbs and in sprints), and it’s pretty light (our big 58cm bike is only 19 pounds).
The parts are a mix of late ’90′s awesome. Dura-Ace 7700 shifters, seatpost, bottom bracket and chain. Ultegra 6500 derailleurs, hubs and brakes. There’s an Easton EC90 carbon fiber handlebar (kind of angular-looking like the frame) and a Selle Italia Flite saddle. The saddle is one of the new ones with the cut-out in the middle, a trend that started in the late ’90′s and early 2000′s. Unlike the modern looking saddle the wheels look really traditional with 32 spokes hand laced into Mavic rims with tied and soldered spoke intersections.
Out for a spin on this Italian dream machine, you’ll immediately feel faster than you actually are. Visions of old bike races and racers may play on your mind. You’ll likely imagine yourself as Johann Museeuw, gapping your rivals in the closing kilometers of the Tour of Flanders. If not the Lion of Flanders maybe Andrea Tafi crushing the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix or Michele Bartoli winning La Fleche Wallonne.
This bike is pretty fantastic. If you have to have it, it’s for sale. It’s a 58cm size, good for a rider 5’10″ to 6’1″ tall and it’s only $1799