Colnago Arabesque

Generally when we do a custom build, it has a lot of carbon, maybe some titanium and has more black than any other color. This bike is not that. The client wanted an authentic classic bike that was still functional for day to day riding. Downtube shifters and delta brakes were ruled out early on. They look awesome, but their functionality is not up to par with modern levers and brakes. We sourced parts from over a dozen different vendors including finding some 'new old stock' parts to complete the build. 

The Arabesque story is a very cool one. Colnago discovered a box of lugs from the 80s recently. They are welding them up and when they are gone, they are gone. This is one of the last frames left, although Colnago still has enough lugs to build any size frame a client wants, but for how much longer, who knows. The paint is a gorgeous off-white pearl that is even better looking in person than in photos. The polished fork and stays are a great touch.  The client wanted to go for as much high polish silver as we could. While down the road parts might be re-finished with a higher polish and clear coat, for now everything is as close to high polish from the factory as possible. A Campagnolo Centaur groupset with Rene Hurst crankset, custom built wheels featuring Pacenti Brevet rims, Sapim CX Xray spokes and White Industries MI hubs.  A Thomson Masterpiece seatpost with Selle SMP Glider saddle in a very cool recently-added tan color. The front-end features a Thomson stem and Ritchey bar wrapped with Gilles Berthoud (actual) leather handlebar tape.  Nitto cages and bar-ends complete the build as do some very trick 'new old stock' Campy QR skewers. 

While we are going to hate to see this bike get dirty, at the same time, there is nothing better than seeing a bike come back with some great miles on it.  


Check out the details of the build below.

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While there are certainly numerous cool details to this build, the frame itself is probably the single biggest show stopper. The pearlescent paint and gold lettering are truly classic. The tan bar tape and silver groupset do not hurt either.

A look down the top tube with Ernesto's signature adorning it. 

We wanted to bring as much silver to the bike as possible. We used a Thomson X2 stem, Ritchey Classic bar, Gilles Berthoud leather handlebar tape in tan as well as Jagwire Elite housing in silver.  In addition to the housing being super trick looking, it is stiffer and super smooth. The cloth finishing tape really tied the front end together.  If the finish of the stem seems odd, it is because it was machined out of a block of aluminum. 

You can really appreciate the lug detail in the photo below - absolute works of art. Hard to believe they are over 30 years old! Barely visible is the silky smooth and super durable Cane Creek 110 series headset. While we would have loved to polish it up, we would have had to clear coat it afterward for the finish to hold, but maybe down the road!

To achieve the widest range possible, the bike is equipped with a 11-32 cassette, thus no need to pedal climbs at 50 rpm with this gearing.

We love the gold accents on the frame, including this Colnago Cloverleaf head badge. 

Classic Colnago geometry is perfect for those genetically inclined for racing, but not awesome for all recreational riders. Thankfully with a full steel steerer tube we were able to run more than 4 cm of spacers to enable the right fit. Ritchey did a great job with their bars to ensure a smooth transition from hoods to bar as well as having a nice classic drop shape. The tape just looks killer as well. We might have to start using it on some carbon bikes, or at least, a Mosaic.

It is rare to see a 46/30 crankset, although with gravel bikes you will start to see it more and more. Since Colnago never intended for anything below a Compact to be used, we had to re-drill the derailleur and heli coil it to mount it low enough on the tab. The crankset is a gorgeous Rene Hurst offering.

A Thomson Masterpiece seatpost holds a Selle SMP Glider saddle. The Italian flag on the back of the saddle goes nicely with the rest of the build. 

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One of the coolest details of the build are the original Campagnolo skewers. The classic looking White Industries hubs and 3 cross-laced Sapim CX Xray spokes blend perfectly with the fork and QR.

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Even the non-drive side is a sight to see.  To ensure miles of worry free use, we went with a SKF bottom bracket. The chainstays are super high polish and match nicely with the pearlescent paint and polished crank arms. Vittoria's insanely supple and grippy Corsa G+ tires in gumwall were the perfect tire for this build. Although sew ups would have been more authentic, prioritizing function was the goal, thus clinchers were chosen. 

Here is another look at the front hub.

Rear hub detail. 

Final hub shot. Note the super trick QR nut. Also note the holes in the hub. White Industries hubs are adjustable and totally rebuildable. 28 spokes might have been a bit overkill for this rider, but speed was never the priority and the look tied in perfectly.

One final front end detail-Nitto bar ends. You almost can feel how smooth and soft the tape is from the photo. It will look ever better when it patinas from some nice use.

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Only one thing left to do - is go out and ride!

Barry Strasnick