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Colnago Oval Master thoughts needed, please (a bit long)(16 posts)

Colnago Oval Master thoughts needed, please (a bit long)mleptuck
Jan 11, 2004 6:02 PM
To make a LONG story short, I'm in the market for a full Ti frame, and am not certain I will have enough $$$ in the budget to go the full custom route (have been looking at Seven Axiom and Alaris, a Moots Vamoots and a Serotta Legend Ti in the custom realm). In addition to the custom frames listed above, I've also checked out a couple of Merlin and Litespeed frames.

I ride a 59cm frame which fits me very well (2001 Raleigh R700), but this bike is Al, and I'm looking for a frame that will last me 10+ years. I'm about 190#, so I am wary about any carbon frame pieces (other than a fork). Steel is also an option, but at this point, I really seem to have locked into Ti.

Here's the meat of my dilema: I came across a 2003 Colnago Oval Master frame in 59cm with a fork for a VERY reasonable price in a LBS. I mentioned this frame to the owner of the LBS several times when I was there last, and he seemed to strongly discourage me from considering it further. I'm going to have to ring him up on Monday and probe a little further on this to see if there is a real reason, other than him seeming to really want to push the Merlin frame he also had in stock.

So, what can anyone tell me about the Oval Master? Good, bad, indifferent, I'll love to hear it all. All the web-based reviews I've read on it rave about this frameset, and I'm strongly leaning towards it, as it will save me a TON of cash over a custom Ti frame.

Also, through doing some more reading on this frame on the web today, it seems the frame is actually a touch smaller than a 'normal' 59cm frame, due to the way Colnago measures its frames (to top of seat tube instead center of top tube, if I'm not mistaken). Is this in fact true? If so, it might be a factor in the LBS owner pointing me away from it, as it might boil down to a 57.5cm frame in essence.

ANY and all info anyone might have on this frame would be greatly appreciated. Also, if I do need to go to a 60cm or 62cm, does anyone know any online retailers who might have one of these babies in stock?

Thanks in advance.
Fabulous frame... but now discontinued.russw19
Jan 11, 2004 7:20 PM
I had one for 2 and a half years. I absolutely loved it. I sold it last fall for more than I paid for it. It was a great bike, but I was ready to move on. Besides, I have 7 bikes and a friend made me an offer on it I couldn't refuse.

You are right about the sizing. A good, albeit general, rule of thumb is to buy a Colnago 2 cm larger than what most other bike sizes are. That is not always true, depending on how each bike is measured, but I rode a 58 Colnago, a 56 Cannondale, a 55 Lemond, a 56 Pinarello, a 57 Merckx, and a 56 Litespeed. You really need to notice that they (Colnago) size from the center to the top of the seat tube. But make sure you look at their top tube length. A 58 Colnago has a (roughly) 56 cm top tube.

As for the frame itself... have you riden one? It is very very stiff! It's a full 6/4 Ti frame and the only other bike I have ever riden that feels even close to it is the Litespeed Vortex. It rides like a stiff aluminium bike. By that I mean a stiffer than normal aluminium bike. I would fully suggest you ride it before you buy it. Also, from the sounds of it, the frame you may get a deal on may be too small. It would fit like a 57 cm Litespeed. You say you rode a Litespeed, what size fit you?

As for online retailers... 2003 was the last year for this frame. If you want a Ti Colnago now, you need a CT2. If I were to buy another Ti Colnago, that's the one I would now get. There are some drawbacks to the Ovalmaster, especially if you are looking for a frame that will last you 10 years. It seems pretty obvious to me that the wave of the next 10 years includes 1 1/8th headsets. The Ovalmaster is a 1 inch. It may make new forks a p.i.t.a. in another 5 years. If you get one, get a King headset so it lasts, and you can always use shims for a threadless stem so you can use any good 1 1/8th stem. But keep in mind the steerer tube on your fork. If you want it to go 10 years like your frame, get a carbon fork with a steel (cromoly) steerer.

That's all I can think of right now... if you have more questions, just ask.

Colnago SizingB2
Jan 12, 2004 2:45 AM
"A good, albeit general, rule of thumb is to buy a Colnago 2 cm larger than what most other bike sizes are."


I know you said "general rule of thumb", but I always thought the 2cm applied to the Treks and not the Colnagos.

Colnago does measure to the bottom of the seat post clamp and not the top of the TT, but 2cm may be a bit extreme. The bottom of the seat post clamp is about 0.5cm above the top of the TT at the front side and even with the top of the TT at the back side (at least on my C40). So somewhere roughly around 0.25cm would be the appropriate amount to deduct when converting Colnago frame sizes to c-t frame sizing.

BTW - I also had a Ovalmaster for a couple of years. Yes it is stiff, not exactly light, but handles terrifically. I wish I could say I sold it for more than I had into it, but I really did enjoy riding it just the same. I got my money's worth out of it.... It had semi-horizontal drops.... fixte..... too late, its gone now.

Colnago Sizingmleptuck
Jan 12, 2004 4:45 AM
Thanks for the replies. I unfortunately figured out the sizing part yesterday, a bit to my dismay. The deal on the frame and fork (under $1600 total) was just too good to pass up -- now I wish it were a 61 or 62cm frame!

Russ, yes, I have ridden a 59cm Litespeed Ultimate and a 59cm Tuscany, and both seemed to fit just fine (unfortunately, I'm having a nearly impossible time finding frames in my size and composition that are built up and available for demo rides). My torso is a bit longer than 'normal' as well, so the Colnago frame with its slightly shorter top tube is just going to complicate matters... So I really think I would need a 61 or 62 just to get into the ballpark.

I do realize the 6/4 Ti provides a VERY stiff ride, in fact, that's what I'm looking for. Unfortunately, the Oval Master at the LBS isn't built up, so I don't think I'll have a chance to ride it, even with an incorrect sizing. It would be interestig to do, simply for the sake of comparison.

Would either of you guys have any idea if there might be any online retailers with a frame or two in back inventory?

Actually, I think I might give Trialtir a call today and see if they can help locate one

Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. I'll keep you all informed of any further developments.
On-line sources.djg
Jan 12, 2004 7:55 AM
There are lots of these floating around, so if this is what you want I would be surprised if you couldn't find one. I'd look at the geometry charts closely and, in general, would not follow the advice to size up two whole cm from a standard c-t measurement.

I bought my CT1 from Mike Perry at maestro-uk. He's been selling Nags for many years; he's very knowledgeable; he's easy to deal with; and he ships to the US all the time. He also tends to have excellent colnago prices. These are probably a little less excellent these days, given the exchange rate, but I bet he's worth a call, both on price and on (old) stock grounds. A US based source you might try is GVH--he sometimes has ovalmasters.

No personal experience with the ovalmaster here--love the CT1. Good luck.
Wrong on the colnago geometry...C-40
Jan 12, 2004 6:06 AM
Colnagos do not need to be purchased 2cm larger than other brands that are measured center to top, like C'dale and Litespeed. At most, the top tube might be .5cm lower. When you compare the head tube length, you will find that Colnagos are as long or longer than other brands of the same c-t size. The head tube is a good indicator of a frame's vertical size. The Colnago geometry charts clearly show the c-c dimension on most sizes to be 2cm less than the frame "size".

All you have to do is be smart enough to know whether you're comparing c-c or c-t sizes.
Wrong on the colnago geometry...mleptuck
Jan 12, 2004 6:23 AM
Okay, with a name like C40, I'd imagine you know your Colnago stuff, so I would ask this one straight out:

Would a 59cm Oval Master be a viable fit candidate for someone who rides a center-to-top-measured 59cm frame? The largest discrepancy I see is the top tube length. I currently have 58.5cm, and the Oval Master is 57, according to a chart I found online. Obviously this could be made up with stem, but I don't really know enough to know if this is a totally viable option.

I'd love to hear more thoughts on this.

Jan 12, 2004 10:27 AM
If you now ride a 59cm c-t, a 59cm Colnago will fit the same in the vertical direction, but the TT length will obviously require a longer stem. The seat tube angle must also be considered in the comparison of TT length, if your bike's STA is different than the Colnago's 73 degrees.

If your bike has a 73 degree STA, then the TT length difference will be 1.5cm. This may put you in-between stem sizes, depending on what you have now. Not many stems come in 5mm increments these days.

The head tube length is of a pre-2004 59cm Colnago is 167mm. Add 25-38mm to get the total head tube length with headset. A Campy headset only has about a 25mm stack height, but Cane Creek and Colnago now have extended top models that are as tall as 38mm.
this would probably be right...Bonked
Jan 12, 2004 10:30 AM
'nagos are designed to use a slightly longer stem. just up your stem length by 1 or 2 cm (as long as you are not already at a 130 or so) and it should fit fine.

as for price, i always recommend the maestro ( only thing more unbelievable than the prices is the service. i'm not sure if he has any oval masters left or not, but it might be worth a quick email.
re: Colnago Oval Master thoughts needed, please (a bit long)rogue_CT1
Jan 12, 2004 6:22 AM
How tall are you? What is your inseam? I am 6'4" and a 61 cm Colnago frame fits me perfectly. If you are shorter than me then the 59 MAY be okay for you. I found that the TT is really the important factor in determining the correct size as far as Colnagos are concerned.

My riding buddy has the Ovalmaster and he absolutely loves it.
re: Colnago Oval Master thoughts needed, please (a bit long)mleptuck
Jan 12, 2004 7:56 AM
I'm 6'1" and my inseam is a little over 32".

Maybe there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon,
Where do you live ?HouseMoney
Jan 12, 2004 8:01 AM
The reason I ask is there's a shop near me selling an '02 leftover LS Vortex in a size 59 (575mm tt), w/ Record 10, Ksyrium wheels, & Ouzo Pro fork. I considered & test rode it, but decided against it for the time being. I'm hoping someone else buys it so I don't have to keep thinking about it! (then I can focus on buying a Colnago w/out the distraction of this Litespeed) The shop says they have been getting inquiries via phone/internet, so even if you're not local, you could probably work out an arrangement.

P.S. I don't work for this shop, nor do I have any financial interest in the sale of this bike. But it's 6/4 ti, it's in your fit ballpark, and it seems like a good deal.
Where do you live ?mleptuck
Jan 12, 2004 8:06 AM
I'm in SE PA (25 miles or so outside of Philly).

I'd certainly be interested in hearing more about this bike, please feel free to provide any further details.

You're not far at all ...HouseMoney
Jan 12, 2004 8:47 AM
The bike is in central NJ, minutes from the intersection of Rtes. 78 & 287. I'm about an hour to 1:15 from Langhorne, PA, and this shop is ~ 20 minutes further east from me, so it may take you less than 2 hrs to get there from where you are.

The bike originally listed for close to $6k. They're now asking $3880, but one of the shop guys told me to make an offer (i.e., they'll take less, how much less I don't know). They'd be willing to swap out parts to accomodate a buyer (current crank is a Record double 172.5, saddle is SSM Era Pro [I think], tires are Conti SuperSonics, etc.). Having seen this bike up close, it's very nice. It weighed ~ 17.5 lbs, with my Look PP206 pedals, on this shop's scale. Did a standing climb up this hill near the shop, and the bike just shot up the hill. I still ask myself why I didn't buy it. I think it's because I didn't really have LS on my short list when I first started looking. Plus, the club I belong to is a competitor's shop, so that may not have gone over too well.

If you'd like more info, leave me your email address & I'll give you more particulars, including the shop's name/ph#/website.
You're not far at all ...mleptuck
Jan 12, 2004 1:09 PM
I'm always agreeable to looking at bikes!

(remove the REMOVETHIS, obviously!)

I love mineCurtSD
Jan 12, 2004 10:59 AM
I haven't ridden any of your comparison frames, so I can't offer any assistance there, but I love my Ovalmaster. I've had it for two years, and haven't lusted after any other road frames since I got it. I'm sure it's not for everyone - I'd guess that it would be too stiff for lighter riders, but for bigger riders (I'm about 205) it's lively but comfortable. My other bike is a steel Serotta (Colorado III), and the Ovalmaster get's about 80% of the mileage.