Meeting Ernesto Colnago (part 1)

7 Mar
It’s 4am and the alarm bell is sounding in my ear to wake up! As I open my eyes and come around from a deep sleep, my adrenaline kicks in…..we are off to Colnago! I rustle up a quick espresso and then we head-off to Heathrow airport. As we were going to Italy via British Airways, we travelled out from the new terminal 5 building. If you have ever been through the new terminal, Just gazing up looking at this engineering challenge, its quite a structural masterpiece. However, when it came to passing through the security check points and x ray machines etc, the airports authorities still haven’t got this sorted. As we arrived at the security arch, there were people at various states of undress. From shoes, coats, belts and jackets. One gentleman even removed his shoes laces. I guess its a sad reflection of the times we live in with this constant threat of terrorism etc.

So, through security and we finally arrive at our boarding gate. Thankfully, its smooth running and we all board without a hitch. From Heathrow to Milan (Linate) it takes approximately two hours flight time, so you arrive in no time at all. When we left the plane in Milan, the sun was shining and the temperature was warmer. Passing thorugh Italian customs was sheer bliss compared to Heathrow, It was great to be back in Italy!

Travelling from Milan (Linate) to Cambiago where Colnago is situated, takes around 30 Min’s. Its approximately 28km from the airport. I have been looking forward to this moment for a very long time, as this was my first visit to Colnago. I must say, I had a few butterflies in the stomach with anticipation of what to expect. It was a bit like that ‘first date feeling’ when I met my wife all those years ago.
As we pulled into Cambiago town, I began to recognise the main road leading up to Colnago. I had a quick look on Google earth a few days before, so I spotted a few land marks along the way. Anyhow, a few minutes later, the Colnago Headquarters appeared on the horizon. As we approached Colnago, one thing you do notice is just how nicely designed the building is. Its thoughtfully laid out with everything in proportion. The other thing I noticed was how clean the building and surrounding areas were. It has a wonderful presence about it. In fact, I found myself gazing at the building for a while just soaking up the atmosphere. With the famous Colnago cycle, which is situated on top of the world, it was a fitting bronze tribute to Colnago!

We parked the car and then entered the main gate. You couldn’t help but notice just how nice the lawns looked and the bushes, trees and shrubs were immaculately manicured. Even before meeting him, I just got the feeling that Mr Colnago is a perfectionist and takes great care in the attention to detail.
As you enter the building, you walk past the frame shipment area into the main reception. You are totally surrounded by signed cycle jerseys of winners through time. You can’t help but say, wow. Every jersey has its own pride of place within a glass case which is neatly displayed around the interior wall of the building. Even my good wife was speechless 🙂 We then walked into the main reception area where by we were warmly greeted by a cheerful man at the desk. The reception area is totally immaculate. Beautiful marble floors and surroundings. The floor had a military gloss and shine about it. There were Colnago bikes nicely laid out on display in reception with a Colnago ‘Forever’ taking pride of place. This bike is an absolute work of art with each one being hand painted. This was especially commissioned to celebrate Mr & Mrs Colnago’s wedding anniversary. There were even a few children’s Colnago bicycles displayed in reception. These are for tomorrows Colnago riders!

A few moments passed and we were met by Mr Diego Colosio who Colnago’s Sales Manager and then by Mr Alex Colnago who is Ernesto’s nephew. They both greeted us very warmly and invited us upstairs to the main offices. We were first taken to meet the great man himself, Mr Ernesto Colnago. It was indeed a great honour to meet this senior statesman of the Italian Cycle Industry. It had quite a royal feeling about it. Mr Colnago was completely charming and invited us to sit down and take some coffee and rather fine handmade Italian biscuits with him. To be honest, I had to rub my eyes from time to time, just to make sure I was actually there and it wasn’t a dream. We were then joined by a rather charming gentleman called Alessandro Colnago, who is the Grandson of Ernesto. He too greeted us very warmly. As you can imagine, it was amazing to be in such good company. With spoke for quite a considerable time with Mr Colnago showing us various items around his office. I must stay, I have no idea how Mr Colnago remains so young. He just doesn’t seem to age. As you can imagine, he is such an interesting gentleman to converse with. He is completely hands on at Colnago and is always the first person through the door in the morning.


 He is a man which leads by example through hard work and attention to detail. In fact, he doesn’t even take lunch in the afternoon. Instead, he can be found working away in his office or going through a frame design with his Research and Development manager. Mr Colnago even told me, at times he wakes up at 4am in the morning, quickly writing down a plan or though which came to him during the night. Even speaking with his Research and Development team, they all said how amazing Mr Colnago is.Mr Colnago’s office is breathtaking, from pictures and medals and citations which have been awarded to him and his company over the years. To tubes and lugs of modern carbon which he’s looking to fine tune and evolve for his current and future frames. His work ethic is astonishing. One thing Mr Colnago wanted to drive home was how much Colnago is a family. From the person who works building the frames, the person in the warehouse shipping out the frames worldwide, the girls working in the offices answering calls and taking email to his Sales Manger etc. It is quite clear, at Colnago the work force is one big family. If you ever get to visit, you will see its a great place to work. Mr Colnago encourages freedom of expression and has designed a superb working atmosphere for the whole ‘family’. Now that’s, truly amazing!

2 Responses to “Meeting Ernesto Colnago (part 1)”

  1. Kenneth Trueman March 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm #
  2. CicloByron March 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Nice one, a lifetime dream came true!

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