1988 Colnago Superissimo
This Colnago, the Superissimo, was a mid-‘80’s update to the standard-setting Super from the 1970’s.
The Superissimo was made out of Columbus SLX cromoly steel tubing and was meant to ride with less flex than the Super’s SL frame by virtue of the five reinforcing steel strips that rifle up and down the inside of the main frame tubes. Outfitted with one of the last curved-blade steel forks that Colnago made (before they adopted straight-bladed models across the line) and the airbrushed grid paint job, this bike is almost as much fun to look at as it is to ride.
The fun elements have to include the Campagnolo C Record crankset, a polished aerodynamic beauty that incorporated it’s own removal tool into the fixing bolt. You have the teardrop-shaped seatpost that a Campagnolo sales manual actually suggested would direct the air flowing around it to cool the rider’s legs.
There’s a Cinelli Volare saddle on here that looks fairly demonic but is actually really comfortable… And of course the Campy C Record Delta brakes. These beauties have been ridiculed for their lack of stopping power (unfairly ridiculed, since their weakness is only evident in hindsight compared to more modern dual-pivot rim brakes and current hydraulic discs) but they were adored for their gem-like sparkle and sleek design.
Other fun things to note: The Mavic GEL 280 tubular rims on here weigh only 280 grams each! That’s lighter than nearly every carbon fiber bicycle rim ever made, and kinda makes up for the Delta brake calipers and the chromed fork, neither feature being very light. The Campagnolo shifters on the downtube are indexed (they “click”) and the shifting is actually really precise.
This Colnago is just like the one that I had as a teenager (although mine was painted purple & white). In comparison to other racing bikes I’ve been able to ride over the past thirty years the Superissimo was, by far, the most awesome bike out of the bunch.
“Most Awesome” is a pretty subjective description, so I’ll try to defend my evaluation a bit:
Aerodynamics and weight play their roles in making a quick racing bike but so do comfort, stiffness and handling. Modern bikes are likely to cut a cleaner hole through the air, and modern bikes from a similar strata are likely to be three or four pounds lighter than this one, but this (heavy and un-aero) bike behaves in such a manner that you love to hammer on the pedals, dive into every turn and just keep riding mile after mile because you’re so comfortable on it.
Lastly, with this paint job and general presentation, everyone who admires it just assumes that the rider who owns it must be fast… So maybe you are.