Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An Interview with Ernesto Colnago

There are very few names in the world of cycling that carry as much weight as Ernesto Colnago. His name is synonymous with quality and many of cycling's greatest PROs can be linked directly to him.

BKW recently sat down with Ernesto to talk about his impact on the bicycle industry and the changes he has seen over his 62 years in the bicycle industry. Ernesto is an incredibly approachable individual, his passion for the bicycle is infectious, and I found that despite his years of involvement at the pinnacle of our sport, he was open to speaking one-on-one, passionate cyclist to passionate cyclist about the subtleties that make our sport so amazing.

Colnago's passion is complemented by his humble nature, although his accomplishments in the bicycle industry are legendary, he remains dedicated to his craft, and despite less time with torch in hand, his involvement is undeniable. The time spent with Ernesto evolved quickly from interview to discussion. Colnago focused on "the heart", and how the sport is very special to us. When a cyclist's effort is driven by the heart, it yields the finest results.

The time spent with Ernesto was inspirational, his experience in the industry, and his influence on bicycles is undeniable and after all these years in the trenches, his passion remains strong. From the days of lugged steel to today's lugged carbon bikes, Colnago has left an indelible imprint on the fabric of cycling. Here are the highlights of our discussion:

BKW: What makes a Colnago ride so nicely?

Colnago: Nice bicycles are not made they are born. It is very easy for me to make great bicycles, it is the only thing I do. Every bicycle built by Colnago was built with heart.

BKW: Tell me about your time as a mechanic. Did it influence how you build bicycles?

Colnago: Of course, I have been in the bike industry for 62 years. I started at 13 years old. First I began as an apprentice, racer, then mechanic in the Tour De France, Giro d'Italia. I have worked with many of the biggest names, Merckx, Sarronni, Gimondi, Motta, Van Looy. My bikes are like children, to the mother, every child is special.

BKW: So the needs of the professional peloton changed?

Colnago: The world has changed. In the old days, the food was easier. Professionals would drink water and eat polenta. Later it was steak and rice following a race; today it is energy gel.

As a parting comment, while discussing the beauty of Colnago's pantagraph work, Colnago responded:

"God made the bicycle; Colnago perfected it."

Many would agree

Ernesto Celebrates 77 Years

6 comments:

SnarkyPants said...

I've always loved Colnagos but this brief interview was like a sucker-punch to my bicycle-lovin' gut...

"Every bicycle built by Colnago was built with heart"

Love it.

bikesgonewild said...

...excellent...excellent lead-in, excellent interview...only wish it was much longer...but wonderfully succinct...

...tip of the cycling hat to both you & ernesto...

Ron George said...

Wish Colnago got their hands on the Reynold's 953 tubing and started their next line of super steel bikes :( I miss colnago steel.

The Sporting Life Society said...

As I was drifting off to sleep with Chet Baker warbling in, I thought of my son sleeping in his crib, the dog on the bed between my wife and I, and I thought of the time I spent holding the scalpel-like flame of an oxy-acetylene torch. I remembered the smell of the solder and the feel of the heat on my face, and the "rush" sound of the flame...and the feeling of pure joy when the brass started to flow...nice interview RF

Mike said...

enjoyed that, thanks. Love the closing quote. I've never owned a colnago though I did spend a summer on a C40 a few years ago that had been lent to me... it was very nice (very very...). I'd love a steel Master now, just for the hell of it.

Anonymous said...

ERNESTO IS RIGHT ABOUT ONE THING. THE WORLD HAS CHANGED. TODAY SCIENCE HAS INFECTED FRAMEBUILDING - AND TAKEN IT TO A LEVEL THAT WILL TAKE MORE THAN FANCY PAINT AND BRAGGING TO COMPETE WITH.