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.
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.
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).
Refer to images below in regards to the following details;
1. Colnago stampings on top of bottom bracket.
2. SLX stamp on rear drive side drop-out.
3. Or you can 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.
What came after the Colnago Superissimo SLX?
If you search Google, you will find lots of posts listing Superissimo frames made with Columbus Brain tubing. All of the photos of these bikes feature chrome head tube lugs.
Thanks to the work of a generous contributor (from the comments section below), I was advised that the Colnago Superissimo was listed in the 1996 Colnago catalogue of which I didn’t have a copy until now.
I have included a picture of the 1996 catalogue page below in which the Colnago Superissimo frame was made from Columbus BRAIN tubing (expressly made for Colnago). The frame is described as having the following features;
- Rear brake cable routed internally through the top tube.
- Water bottle cage bosses on the seat tube (as well as down tube).
- Fork crown & lugs from the Colnago Master.
- Investment cast fork crown, bottom bracket shell and drop outs.
- Precisa straight leg front fork.
- Chrome plated front fork, head lugs and drive side chain stay.
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 frames that look like a Superissimo
There are probably quite a lot of Colnago frames that are being incorrectly identified as a Colnago Superissimo. It’s easy to see why. Most people think a Colnago steel frame with round tubes (like a Super) and chromed head tube lugs is a Superissimo. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Looking through my Colnago catalogs (from late 1980’s), chrome plated head tube lugs actually became the norm. As you can see below, Colnago released a range of models that looked like Superissimo’s, but were different. There may be additional models that are not listed here..
Released in the 1994 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Colnago Super Piu
Also released in the 1994 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Also released in the 1996 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs. Released in the same year as what looks like the last model of the Superissimo.
Released in the 1997 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs, but special metal used in tubing.
Released in the 2004 Colnago catalog. Round tubes, chrome head tube lugs.
Colnago & Columbus Literature.
The following websites have a large selection scanned Colnago literature including reviews, catalogues and brochures.
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 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.
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.