Beyond these gates are where carbon dreams are made!

28 Mar
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Beyond these gates are where carbon dreams are made. These gates are the entrance to a whole new world of carbon frame construction. My wife and I were extremely fortunate to be offered an opportunity to visit the Colnago frame manufacturing department. The factory is situated directly below Mr Colnago’s house which is perched above. Originally, before the site was established across the road, all operation where centred around these premises. As you walk in, you can still see Mr Colnago’s old office which sits adjacent to the house. Folks, you don’t get much more hands on then this. Apparently, Mr Colnago visits the team in the factory every morning before he walks over the roads to the main offices. There is even a pedestrian crossing area directly outside for safe passage across the road.
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As we walked through the gates, you get a real sense of a boutique operation. we were approaching the ‘engine room’ of the Colnago ship, it was very exciting. The building appears to be constructed underground and its quite amazing. Viewing from outside, you would have no idea what you are about to enter as you venture into this fantastic world. As soon as we entered, I was completely struck just how clean this building is. From the floors to the general surroundings, its quite a visual experience. Moving further into the building, you soon see the frame jigs which have especially been constructed for the C59 Italia model. Really a work of art. This also allows the frame builder to move around the jig unhindered to construct the frame. I recognised a couple of the frame builders from the Colnago EPS factory videos, which was really nice. Just watching these guys work was totally amazing, they are just perfectionists. Every minute detail is addressed as if they were building the frames for their own personal use. It was plain to see that these guys have carbon within their DNA.
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I was informed that the builders have no idea where the frames could be heading. So, they could be building a frame for Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar or perhaps a customer within the USA. Every frame receives the same amount of loving tender care when its being made, irrespective of who’s going to be riding it. Even the craftsman’s work benches were clean and everything in it rightful place. We were also shown the frame alignment and testing department, where every frame is tested on a super smooth, super straight, expensive granite surface. One of the guys told me, “you just wouldn’t believe it, that surface alone is worth more than my car”. Folks, the attention to detail is amazing!
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As my wife and I was taking in all this information, one of the frame builders was just about to construct a C59 in front of our very eyes. Wow, this was too good to be true. I asked if it was OK to watch and they all agreed. Just watching this guy construct this beautiful carbon frame was totally breathtaking. I was speechless, just watching this craftsman perform in front of my eyes. Building the frame, lug by lug and tube by tube was awesome. Even in its most raw naked form, the carbon fibre Colnago looks stunning. I just wanted to say, yes that’s fine, I’ll ride it home, don’t worry about the paint. đź™‚

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The special bonding agent Colnago use has been scientifically developed. Colnago work quite closely with Milan technical university looking at and experimenting with various bonding agents. Nothing is taken for granted, everything is analysed and then analysed again! Research and development doesn’t stand still!

Colnago use the very finest carbon fibre available. All of their carbon is sourced from Toray in Japan. Without question, Toray make some of the finest carbon fibre in the world, which is highly sort after. The carbon arrives at Colnago in its raw forum and the tubes and lugs are then made and constructed in Italy. Just looking at the racks of carbon tubes and lugs which have been pre-cut for frame construction. I just love that beautiful carbon weave which makes so many of us go weak at the knees, its truly an amazing product.
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After the frame has been built on the jig. The frame in then placed within an oven unit where its given time to set and bond together. They are quite impressive these units.

Colnago also have a frame preparation area. All frames go through this area including the Colnago M10. Every frame is rigorously checked and double checked before it goes off to the paint shop near Florence. After the frames have been painted. They then get shipped back to Cambiago and then undergo a final quality control inspection before they are shipped out to owners around the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Ernesto Colnago and his team for allowing me to visit. Their genuine warmth and hospitality was amazing. Its an experience I shall never forget. It makes me very proud to be a Colnago owner!  
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