Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration (Part 2)

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

Welcome to part 2 of my Colnago Nuovo Mexico restoration. In the previous parts I have discussed the following parts of this restoration;

Frame Restoration Choices

Once the frame was stripped back to it’s raw steel finish, the first big question; do I restore the frame with an original paint scheme or do I paint it in a completely different style? What type of decals will be fitted? What colour will it be? Which tubes will be chrome plated?

Unpainted Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame
Unpainted Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame

These are all tough choices and make a big difference to how the bike will look when it is completed, as well as the overall cost. Whilst a custom paint job was tempting, I really like the original paint scheme(s) and bold white Colnago decals. When you look back at some of the bright fluro paint schemes from the 1980’s, the early Nuovo Mexico paint scheme(s) were classic and look retro-cool some 36 years later.

Chrome Plating Decisions

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Fork
Colnago Nuovo Mexico Fork
with new chrome plating.

I decided to chrome plate the frame in the same way it had been originally; right side chain stay, both rear drop-outs and the front fork.

Chrome plating is quite a time intensive process and requires the steel tubes to be perfectly polished before undergoing several rounds of electro plating with polishing between rounds.

Something I learnt from my painter was the tubes in these vintage frames are thin, so the polishing needs to be performed more gently than something like car parts which are made from heavier gauge steel. Also you don’t want them polishing out the small details on the frame. It’s a job for a specialist.

Selecting a Paint Colour

As I decided to re-create the original paint scheme of the Nuovo Mexico, I only had to choose one paint colour. Most vintage Colnago fans would know of a colour called ‘Saronni Red’. This amazing colour is was named after Giuseppe Saronni who rode red Colnago bikes for the Del Tongo team. I recently read on a blog that ‘Sarroni Red’ was painted using a 2 step painting process. The frame is first sprayed in metallic silver, then it is sprayed with a red-tinted clear coat. The end result is a deep red metallic finish. My painter simply referred to this colour as ‘candy red’.

Campagnolo Super Record Headset on Colnago
My 1984 Colnago Master – original paint – Saronni Red.

Whilst I love ‘Saronni Red’, my Colnago Master pictured above (of a similar era) is already painted this colour. I didn’t want both my vintage bikes to be the same colour, so I decided to paint it blue. I’ve never owned a blue bike before, so it’s a nice change.

Of course that simple decision became far more complicated when the painter pulled out 5 books of colour swatches with every imaginable shade of blue including variations of flat, satin, gloss and metallic finishes. After an hour of going back and forth, I finally selected the ‘0008 Blue Mic 2ct’ paint swatch which is a metallic finish. I simply call it ‘candy blue’.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Paint Swatch
Paint Swatches

Historically, blue and red are significant colour’s for Colnago race bikes of the early 1980’s. I saw a photo of Freddy Maertens bike in the Colnago museum (beside Saronni’s bike). Maertens won the 1981 World Championships outsprinting Saronni to second place that year on a blue Colnago Mexico according to Colnago’s website. The following year Saronni won the 1982 World Championships riding his red Colnago Super Profil. As the Nuovo Mexico was actually the ‘New Mexico’, blue seemed a perfect choice.

Colnago Mexico - Freddy Maertens 1981
1981 Colnago Mexico – Freddy Maertens World Champs Bike.
Image courtesy of Colnago Website

When the Nuovo Mexico first appeared in the Colnago catalogue, it was blue also as pictured below.

Colnago Nuovo Mexico catalogue page (circa 1983)
Colnago Nuovo Mexico catalogue page (circa 1983)

Selecting the Decals

I really like Colnago’s original decal set for bikes of the early 1980’s which was commonly seen on the Super and Nuovo Mexico models. It features the rainbow bands as Colnago bikes have won multiple World Championship wins. The white background also contrasts beautifully with the blue paint I had chosen. Thankfully there are a number of people selling high quality reproductions of nearly all the Colnago decals produced over the years. The decal supplier I used allows you to mix ‘n’ match decals from any of the sets and sizes. They can even create new decals to match any existing decal you need to replace.

Colnago Decal Set
Colnago Decal Set (Modern Reproduction)

Restored Nuovo Mexico Frame

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame
Restored Colnago Nuovo Mexico Frame.
With new paint, chrome plating and decals.

I am really happy with the finished result. The large white decals look amazing on the blue and the metallic finish really sparkles in the sun. The fresh chrome plating makes this 36 year old frame look like brand new again.

Article Continues on the Next Page

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article so far. On the next page you can read about the components I have purchased for this frame.

References

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

Freddy Maertens 1981 World Championship bike
Information about the Saronni Red colour

Disclaimer!

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.

About Me.

I have been riding and working on my own bikes for many years now. I wanted to share my experiences, knowledge and research with others. My aim is to inspire people to get involved in all aspects of this amazing sport. Cheers.

Comments.

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 “Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration (Part 2)

  • Think this is a really interesting article, enjoying reading it.
    Question, well two actually, both related

    How come you didnt re-chrome the lugs on the head tube?

    And (related)

    How come you didnt chrome the seat stays? Would have looked fabulous

    • Hi Andrew, thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.
      I completely agree that the frame would look even better with your chrome plating suggestions.
      In fact, it would match the frame pictured in the Colnago brochure I included in the article.

      In answer to your questions, there are a few reasons I didn’t go down that path.
      1. I decided to keep the frame original, so I only chrome plated the areas to match how it left the factory.
      2. It’s more expensive to chrome plate extra parts.
      3. My Colnago Master has chrome plated seat stays, so I prefer the bikes to be a bit different.
      4. I was also mindful that the Nuovo Mexico was built from a combination of (thicker) Columbus SL and (thinner) Record tubes. Unfortunately I don’t know which tubes are Columbus Record tubes. As chrome plating can require heavy polishing, I wouldn’t want to risk making already thin tubes, thinner.

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