Handbuilt Bicycle News



Matthew Butterman

Sunday 27 May 2018

Classic Rendezvous: Wayne Bingham's Colnago with "Ernesto" brakes

Wayne Bingham brought an early-1980s Colnago to the Classic Rendezvous Weekend that featured many Colnago-engraved components, including a very special brakeset.

Classic Rendezvous: Wayne Bingham's Colnago with "Ernesto" brakes
Photo: Dave LaMay

Wayne Bingham, renowned bicycle collector and owner of vintage bicycle emporium Velo Classique, brought a trio of Italian bicycles with him to the Classic Rendezvous Weekend that each featured brakesets manufactured by Modolo, but branded with the names of other component manufacturers.

Modolo first introduced their brake levers in 1952, and during the 1970s and 1980s their brakesets were often the first alternative component on otherwise full Campagnolo-equipped bikes. Modolo’s first full brakeset, the Professional, came out in 1976. In 1983, their top-of-the-line model, the Master Pro, was introduced and it came in several different colors and featured Modolo’s “sinterized” brake pads that had a compound in them to increase stopping power in wet conditions.

The Italian company also did a good business as a contract builder for other manufacturers, including, notably, French component brand Mavic, who used Modolo-built brakesets in their component groups for many years. Later in the 1990s, after Mavic switched to Dia-Compe for their brake supplier, Modolo produced brakesets and calipers for German company Sachs, who featured them in their popular New Success groupset.

After the mid-1990s, Modolo focused exclusively on their bar and stem components, along with their Morphos “brifter” levers that feature multiple cogset and derailleur manufacturer compatibility. Today, these products comprise Modolo’s offerings along with a recently-introduced line of bags.

Unique "Colnago Ernesto" Modolo brakeset was gifted to Washington, D.C. importer Mel Pinto by Ernesto Colnago.    All photos: Wayne Bingham

The green and silver early 1980s Colnago that Bingham displayed featured a number of Colnago-branded components on it, including the headset, bar and stem, seatpost, chainrings and a special Modolo brakeset with “Colnago Ernesto” engraved on the calipers. Most of the Colnago-branded components were made by either Campagnolo or Cinelli, but the special “Ernesto” calipers have a special story behind them, as Bingham explained.

“In the late 1990s, after I’d bought Mel Pinto Imports, I was going through stock in the warehouse, and came across these Modolo brakes with “Colnago Ernesto” engraved on the caliper arms, and accompanied by a personalized note from Ernesto to Mel,” he said. Pinto was a long-time importer of several European brands in the U.S., including Modolo, and he knew many of the big names in the bicycle industry very well.

Even the saddle features the Colnago cloverleaf

Using the unique, one-off brakeset as a foundation, Bingham assembled a full ensemble of other Colnago-branded components to create this aesthetic masterpiece.

 An eyeful of cloverleaves from every angle!