1984 Colnago Arabesque

53cm center-to-center seat tube



Issued in honor of Colnago's 30th anniversary in 1984, the Arabesque is one of the most sought after Colnago models. Exact production numbers are not known, but it was only in production in 1983 and 1984, in limited numbers. Most of the Arabesques were sold as framesets, while a very limited number were sold as complete bikes with a specially pantographed Campagnolo Super Record gruppo. The gruppo incorporated 7 or 8 solid gold Colnago clubs (depending on which type of seatpost was used, round or aero; round posts had one gold club while aero posts had two), and the Arabesque frame  had two of the same gold clubs inserted in the seatstay caps. Complete Arabesques with the matching 30th anniversary gruppo, as shown in the brochure above, are the most desirable Arabesques, and of course the most difficult to find. An example like the one in this auction, with the complete 30th anniversary gruppo, with most of its original components, and with period-correct replacement of consumable parts (such as the Vittoria tubulars), all in excellent condition, is a rare find indeed.

 This bike was owned by an elderly gentleman in California, who used it sparingly and gently for a short time. It was stored for many years when the gentleman wasn't able to ride anymore. Eventually his grandson inherited the bike and he had it refreshed at his local bike shop, with the intention of riding it. Modern tubulars were fitted, as well as a modern cork handlebar wrap, and a modern chain. The grandson only rode the bike a couple of times and then he in turn put the bike into storage. About a year ago he offered me the bike, knowing that I would do my best to restore it to its rightful glory. And so I tried and the result is what you see.

When I received it, the entire bike was dirty and dull, but fortunately the paint and decals were in exceptionally good condition. The chrome showed superficial rust, apparently from humidity during storage, but I was able to remove most of it, and the chrome is now very shiny. Up close you can see remnants of the rust in some spots, but from three feet away the chrome looks almost perfect. I enjoy doing this kind of work so it was a labor of love, but it was still a tremendous amount of work.  It is in fact the most labor intensive refurbishing I've ever done, but I think the bike deserved it. And in the end, the result was more than satisfactory.  I hope you agree.

All of the components, except for the tires, the bar wrap, and the chain (and possibly the gum hoods and the cables/housing), are original to this bike. Twenty-nine years they have been together, the components and the frameset! That in itself is remarkable. And to find them in such good condition (like-new almost), makes them that much more special.

I replaced the modern tires, chain and bar wrap with correct Vittoria CX/CG tubulars, a Regina CXS chain, and Ambrosio Bike Ribbon bar wrap, all of which are NOS and period correct. The Vittorias tires are not just period-correct, but they are in fact the exact same tires that complete Arabesques originally came with. And needless to say, these Vittoria tires, in NOS condition, are extremely difficult to find.

Given the originality and great condition of the bike, the correct replacements I made, and the careful refurbishing I performed, this bike may very well look just the way it looked when it shipped from Cambiago, Italy in 1984 - almost a perfect time-capsule. There aren't too many old bikes that can make such a claim.

I have a lot of photos in this description (105 to be exact).  And intended only for hard-core bike porn junkies, there is a link at the end for an additional 56 photos.

 I hope you enjoy this beautiful bike. As always, I welcome all your comments.

Ray Dobbins



Frame material:  Columbus SL (Gilco design)

Seat tube: 53cm. center-to-center

Top tube: 54cm. center-to-center

Head tube: 11.7cm. end-to-end

Stand-over: 78.8cm. to top of top tube

Stem: 95mm

Bar: 40cm center-to-center












Complete Arabesques came fitted with San Marco Rolls saddles.  The one on this bike is an unusual version, with distressed brown leather.  It has developed an elegant patina, and I think it looks beautiful on this bike.




Date code is 1983.  Without a doubt this is the original saddle.




Unique lug design and solid gold club encrusted in the seatstay cap.

The decals on this are in amazing condition.

The only decal that didn't survive was the Columbus decal.  It was completely gone so I replaced it with a modern reproduction.






The stem looks like new.

The cap on the stem is not original, it is one that I improvised from another cycling component.  If you can guess what it is, I will include an ALE water bolttle for free.


The Colnago-engraved bar is a not a common component.  In this condition, it is practically a rarity.


These levers come polished from the factory.  It's worth noting that I did not customize any component on this bike with after-market polishing.  Whatever you see polished, came that way from the factory.

Shield-logo hoods would be correct for 1983-84 brake levers, but these are in such good shape that I suspect they were replaced at some point.  They are genuine Campagnolo hoods though, not replicas.









Vittoria Corsa CX...a great tire.

The Ambrosio logo here is silk-screened, not a decal.  That's why it is partially faded.


The chrome looks great from even three feet away.  But if you inspect it closely, you'll notice the stains left by the superficial rust which I removed.  I'm not a chrome restoration expert, but I think this is as good as this chrome can be cleaned up.



These spots are practically invisible from anything more than three feet away.

The hubs are pantographed Record hubs, 32 hole front and back.






The distinctive and much admired Arabesque lug design.  The chrome is good on the top headlug but the bottom headlug is a little rough.







How flashy are those shifters?  Colnago was bling before bling was born.

No lifting, no peeling...the condition of the decals is nothing short of amazing.  If you know old Italian bikes, you know what I mean.







Mexico style crankset with 172.5mm arms 52/41 rings (that's not a typo; the small ring is a 41).

Notice how clean the teeth are.  They show hardly any use.





The toe straps are riveted!  Very old-school, very cool, and very definitely original equipment on this bike.




Even these little decals, which are notoriously fragile, are intact.  It amazes me.




These chainstaly decals are a little faded, but they're all there.



Notice that the Regina CX chain has a unidirectional design.  The inner plates have deep cutouts to allow easier shifting into the bigger cogs.








Second generation Super Record calipers came out in 83.


Vittoria Corsa CG in back for better durability.  The CX is very hard to find...the CG is near impossible to find.



A 4 inside a circle is the date code for 1984.






A very special bike.  I hope you enjoyed it.

If you want to see more photos this bike, click here.

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Created  813/2013