How to identify a Colnago Superissimo

Colnago Superissimo 1986
Superissimo as shown in a 1986 Colnago catalogue (with painted head tube lugs).

The Colnago Superissimo bicycle was first released in 1982, built with the same Columbus SL tubes as the Colnago Super, however the Colnago Superissimo featured chrome plated head tube lugs as shown in this image below.

1980s Colnago Superissimo
Early 1980s Superissimo with chrome plated head tube lugs.

According to a later Colnago catalogue (circa 1986), a second version of the Colnago Superissimo was released featuring a new frame built using Columbus SLX tubing, whilst the Colnago Super was still manufactured with regular Columbus SL tubing. Both Columbus SL and SLX tubes were made from double-butted Cyclex CroMo steel however, the SLX tubes featured helicoidal reinforcement ribs in the end of each tube. They were a new design to add more stiffness to the bottom bracket and designated for use in professional race bikes.

Columbus SLX decal

Before you start with the identification process, you should start here;
How to identify a Colnago vintage bike.

General Identification Process.

Identifying a first version Colnago Superissimo (1982 onward).
As the Colnago Superissimo is a variation of the Colnago Super, you first need to make sure the bike matches the characteristics of a Colnago Super. This article on How to identify a Colnago Super can help. If the frame matches the characteristics of an early 1980’s Colnago Super and the paint looks original and the head tube lugs are chrome, chances are this is a Colnago Superissimo. If the frame has been repainted, then the head tube lugs could have also been chromed to replicate the Colnago Superissimo.

Identifying a second version Colnago Superissimo (1986 onward).
1. Check the downtube is round.
2. Remove the cranks, bottom bracket axle and bearings from the frame.
3. Visually inspect the inside of the bottom bracket and/or feel the ends of the down tube & seat tube searching for any helicoidal reinforcement bands. If they are present, then the frame is constructed with SLX tubing and is most probably a Colnago Superissimo.

Note: If the downtube is not round and you find helicoidal reinforcement bands inside the bottom bracket. Then the frame is most likely a Colnago Conic SLX Total Spiral, which was released a few years later in 1988.

1988 Colnago Superissimo
1988 Colnago Superissimo

If you are still not sure at this point, you may have to rely on any decals attached to the frame. I don’t normally recommend this method as decals can be bought online and easily applied to ANY frame. Either way, you should at least know by now if the frame is in the Super family.

Colnago Superissimo decal
Superissimo top tube decal.

What came after the Colnago Superissimo SLX?

If you search Google, you will find lots of posts listing Superissimo frames made of either Columbus Thron or Columbus Brain tubing. All of the photos of these bikes feature chrome head tube lugs. I have scanned through 8 different Colnago catalogues (dated 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006) and whilst there were many steel road bikes in these catalogues, none of them were called a Colnago Superissimo. Interestingly, after looking through these catalogues, it seems chrome plated head tube lugs became the standard finish for all of the steel frames released after 1988. This leaves me with 2 possible outcomes;

  1. Either the Colnago Superissimo was still in production and just not listed in any of the catalogues I previously mentioned, or;
  2. These bikes are just late model Colnago Super’s (or variations) like the Super 91, Super Piu, C-94 or Classic, which according to the Colango catalogue photos, all featured chrome head tube lugs. If this is the case, then I leave it to you to decide if they should be called a Colnago Superissimo.
Colnago Superissimo catalogue page (circa 1985)

Colnago & Columbus Literature.

The following websites have a large selection scanned Colnago literature including reviews, catalogues and brochures.

Article References.

I hope you found this article interesting. I have listed the following website pages as general references.


Please remember that this information is only to be used as a guide.
I consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. The information I have presented in this article is based on my many hours of online research.

In addition, there will always be frames that don’t quite match the characteristics of a particular model as they could have been a custom build, prototype etc. Note: forks can also be swapped between different frames.


I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.

2 thoughts on “How to identify a Colnago Superissimo

  • I’ve had a red Colnago frame in my closet since 2005. Bought it on Ebay and the guy wasn’t sure of the model, and I never ended up doing anything with it.

    It has round tubes, but otherwise has the features of a Master Piu (Chromed headtube lugs, same shape and stamps), same seat stays and seat tube lug (with clover stamp) and same bottom bracket, with clover stamp on top and the word COLNAGO stamped on bottom. Also has one chrome chain stay.

    I’ve seen pictures on online that suggest a Superissimo SLX from the 1990s, but from what I can tell, the tubes in this one do not have the spiral reinforcing inside.

    • Hi,
      If it has all round tubes it is likely to be in the Super family. There were many versions of the Super released beyond the 1980’s and chrome head lugs appeared to be the standard for these frames. Is there any Columbus label on the seat tube? Does it say Brain or Thron tubing?

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