Our history A past shaped by legends

Time Line


Humble origins rooted in a passion for cycling

Ernesto Colnago's entrepreneurial story began in a small shop in Via Garibaldi 10 in Cambiago way back in 1954. At the time, Ernesto was a young worker at the Gloria bike factory in Milan. Due to an accident during cycling training, he was forced to work from home, where he made wheels for his company, assembling rims, hubs and sprockets. He found that he earned working in this way than going to the company in Milan. Thus began his boyhood dream, starting a business as a bicycle mechanic and later a frame builder. He had little money. To help him, his father cut a mulberry tree from the family garden to build him a workbench.


A legendary start

During a training session, he met Fiorenzo Magni, one of the greatest champions of the time, who complained of leg pain. Ernesto pointed out to him that the cranks were badly mounted, and fixed them, solving the problem. Magni was impressed and wanted him at his side in his main challenge that year: the Giro d'Italia. Ernesto thus left for his first Giro d'Italia as assistant mechanic in the champion's team. Magni eventually got to wear the pink jersey.


Innovators from the start

From the early years, Colnago has always been synonymous with 'innovation'. In 1956 Ernesto revolutionised the way bicycle forks were made. He invented the cold-bending of fork tubes. Instead of heating them before bending them, he managed to obtain the desired results by levering two pieces of wood fixed on the work bench. Colnago forks were more elastic and resistant. During this period, many professional cyclists, even if sponsored by other frame makers, came to his factory to have customised frames painted and rebranded by their main sponsors.


The years of Merckx - the cannibal

Colnago met Eddy Merckx who needed reliable, artfully registered wheels to use in the Milan-San Remo race. The work was perfect and Merckx won the race. Between Colnago and Merckx's team - Molteni - partnership unfolded, propelling the team from Lombardy to emerge as one of the most triumphant in history.


Gianni Motta, the first of many Colnago legends

Watching 16-year-old Gianni Motta pedal, Colnago realised that he would become a champion and decided to provide him with a bicycle and assistance. Among his many successes under Colnago's guidance, Motta won the Tour of Lombardy in 1964, came third in the Tour de France in '65 and triumphed in the Giro d'Italia in '66.


Colnago bikes winners all over the world

Ernesto was no longer just a mechanic: he was now a full-fledged bike maker. Making bikes for Merckx - as many as 20 in one year - was his ultimate endorsement. The masterpiece was the bicycle used by the Belgian champion to set the hour record. Despite being made of steel, it weighed only 5.75 kg.


The first sponsored team

With the sponsorship of Scic - an Italian team whose captain was G.B. Baronchelli - Colnago made its official debut in the world of professional racing with this outstanding product.


Colnago goes beyond the Iron Curtain

Not only is Colnago a tireless innovator in technology but also an entrepreneur of great insight. Its technical and commercial collaboration with the Soviet Union brought a valuable return in terms of image, as well as important successes such as the Olympic victory in Moscow in the team time trial and road race.


World Championship in Prague, two Colnagos on top of the world.

Once again, we got a glimpse of the former glory days of Maertens, who burnt out Italian Beppe Saronni in the last metre. At 400 metres Baronchelli sprinted, then Saronni decided to take matters into his own hands and launched a very long sprint. Just as he was ready to raise his arms to the sky, the Belgian Maertens came up and outsmarted him on the white finish line, with Hinault in third place. Two Colnagos are on the first two steps of the podium.


Giuseppe Saronni world champion on a Colnago

Ernesto Colnago joined the Del Tongo family's project to create a global team and, in the same year, Giuseppe Saronni won the World Championship at Goodwood. The year before, another Colnago rider - Freddie Maertens - had earned himself the rainbow jersey.


Dutchman Zoetmelk is World Champion at 39.

Zoetemelk's palmares include a Tour de France (1980) and a Vuelta in 1979, classics such as the Fleche Wallonne, the Amstel Gold Race, at the ripe old age of 41, the Paris-Tours in 1977 and 1979, stage races such as Paris-Nice, which he won three times, the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie, plus a couple of national championships.


Colnago and Ferrari revolutionise cycling

Investing in the future, innovation and quality. Never stop believing. Ferrari and Colnago have much in common, and it is no coincidence that they developed a friendship that would lead to many revolutionary projects. Enzo Ferrari, affectionately known as 'Il Drake' in Italy, proposing a collaboration with Colnago, made it clear from the start: "I only want beautiful things, on a par with Ferrari".


Colnago invents the straight fork

Introduced in the late 1980s, the Precisa fork paved the way for the entire future production of Colnago forks and more, because it effectively revolutionised the way that component was conceived. At the time, its straight chain stays were revolutionary and improved the absorption of vibrations from the ground as well as giving better overall control of the bike. In the years that followed, the Precisa fork, initially made entirely of steel, was offered in various versions with blades and pivots made entirely of carbon fibre.


Rominger double hour record

On 22 October 1994, Tony Rominger set a new hour record on the wooden ring in Bordeaux after only a few days' specific preparation. The Swiss rider covered 53.832 km on the French indoor velodrome track, surpassing the record set 50 days earlier by another champion, the Spaniard Indurain. On 5 November, spurred on by his staff, he tried again to challenge the Hour by taking the record distance to 55.291 km.


Colnago introduces carbon fibre in the peloton

The C40, the frame that revolutionised cycling history, was born. Carbon-fibre joints and tubing glued together, i.e. the carbon-fibre Master; the same craftsmanship, this time presented in a new material, lighter and better performing than steel. This frame, combined with the straight-sided fork (Precisa), was ahead of its time and offered its riders great performance advantages


Total domination.

Between the 1990s and the 2000s Colnago bikes dominated the top events in cycling. In 1998, the top three teams in the UCI classification - Mapei, Rabobank, and Casino-Ag2r - all rode Colnago bikes. In those years, the ace of clubs crossed the finish line first or made it to the podium in all the monumental classics, triumphed in the 1995 and 1996 Giro d'Italia, won the hour record and won the world championships in 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001.


World Championship Lisbon, another double victory for Colnago.

The Spaniard Freire achieved his world championship encore (he scored a hat-trick in 2004, in Verona) and did so by a few centimetres, beating the Italian Paolo Bettini, who won the first edition of the UCI World Cup in the same year. Bettini and Freire are teammates on Giorgio Squinzi's Mapei team.


Starting from scratch.

After the dark years of scandals in the early 2000s, cycling was in a crisis and many big brands withdrew their sponsorship contracts. Colnago, along with a few other bicycle manufacturers, committed itself to helping the sport by increasing its efforts in sponsoring professional teams and riders. Colnago was at the forefront with the Colnago CSF team. "If we don't believe in what we do, how could others invest in cycling?"


Colnago was a sponsor of the French Europcar team.

The leading rider was Thomas Voeckler, who in that year achieved stage victories in the Giro del Trentino, the Giro del Mediterraneo and the Paris-Nice (two). In July, he took part in the Tour de France as team captain. Managing to break away from a distance in the ninth stage, in which he finished second, he donned the yellow jersey, which he managed to keep for ten days, crossing the Pyrenees unscathed. However, in the Alps, three stages from the end of the Grande Boucle, he had to give up the yellow jersey to Andy Schleck.


Colnago secures Wout Van Aert’s first cyclocross world championship

After the successes of legends such as Sven Nys and Lars Boom, it was Wout Van Aert's turn to win a cyclo-cross world championship on Colnago. The 21-year-old would go on to win two more and go down in the history of this speciality.


Collaboration with the future UAE Emirates team begins

The new team initially took on the name UAE Abu Dhabi, from its first training camp in Terracina (in the province of Latina) until the end of February of that year, before changing its name to UAE Team Emirates, after its main sponsor Emirates, receiving one of eighteen UCI World Tour licences for the 2017 season.


Filippo Ganna triumphs in the track pursuit Euro championships.

What a feat by Filippo Ganna in Berlin. At the age of 21, he was European champion in the track pursuit. World champion in 2016 and silver medallist in the continental event, he took the title by beating Portugal's Ivo Oliveira.


Tadej Pogacar, the latest of many Colnago legends

Tadej Pogačar on his Colnago V3Rs wins the first Tour de France ever for a bike branded Colnago. The young Slovenian rider, with his courageous and winning attitude, proves to be a perfect ambassador of the values of Colnago.