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Colnago

Matthew Butterman

Thursday 23 August 2018

Andre Haak's 1991 Colnago Master: Tall cool one

Andre Haak bought a Colnago Master frameset that was ridden by Belgian superstar Edwig Van Hooydonck to victory in the 1991 Tour of Flanders, and recreated a Buckler team replica bicycle as Van Hooydonck would have ridden.

Andre Haak's 1991 Colnago Master: Tall cool one
Photo: Andre Haak

Dutchman Andre Haak owns a 1991 Colnago Master in Buckler team livery originally used by two-time Tour of Flanders winner Edwig Van Hooydonck of Belgium. Haak bought the frameset earlier this year in Ghent, Belgium from a former Buckler team mechanic who confirmed that it was the frameset used on Van Hooydonck’s bike for the 1991 season and ridden to victory in that year’s Tour of Flanders.


Edwig Van Hooydonck in 1989. Photo: Jon Cannings

The keen observer probably doesn’t need that confirmation to suspect its previous owner. Van Hooydonck was a tall, lanky racer who measured over 190 cm tall, and throughout his career (entirely on Colnago bicycles) he used framesets with extended head and seat tubes that went beyond the junction with the horizontal top tube, keeping the top tube closer to the down tube, and in theory, making for a stiffer, lighter and stronger frame.

It was another tall racer, multiple World Points Race champion Urs Freuler, who popularized this unique geometry. The speedy, mustachioed Swiss sprinter adopted it when he rode for the Italian Atala team in the mid-1980s and used the team’s namesake bicycles (or perhaps a custom builder’s frame painted and decaled as such). When Freuler moved to Peter Post’s Panasonic team in 1988, Colnago was the bicycle supplier, and they built the Swiss star a bike to his specifications. Even after Panasonic switched bicycle sponsors two years later, Colnago kept offering “Freuler geometry” as an option for steel, aluminum and titanium framesets with seat tubes longer than 59 cm.


Urs Freuler introduced the dropped top tube geometry that Colnago would later use on its larger framesets. Photo: www.cyclingarchives.com

Haak’s Colnago features a seat tube that measures 65 cm center-to-top, but only 59 cm center to center of the top tube junction. The top tube itself measures a rangy 62 cm. Production “Freuler geometry” Colnagos didn’t offer top tubes this length, so Van Hooydonck’s frame was clearly made to measure - a common practice for pro riders’ bikes in the days when steel framesets ruled the peloton.


Extended seat tube offers more room for advertising. Photo: Andre Haak

The tubing used on Van Hooydonck’s frame, and on all Colnago Master framesets, warrants comment. It uses Columbus Gilco tubing (named for Columbus’ founder Gilberto Colombo), which is star-shaped and crimped to this profile in an effort to increase strength in an otherwise lightweight tubeset.

To maintain its authenticity as a true Buckler team bicycle, Haak outfitted his Colnago with Suntour Superbe Pro components, as used by Jan Raas’ teams from 1989-93, and under three different title sponsors (Superconfex, Buckler and Word Perfect). The marquee components from Japan’s runner-up parts manufacturer were prized for their highly-polished finishes and minimalist touches like hidden, internal springs on the brake calipers.


Beautifully sculpted and polished components like the brake calipers and downtube shift levers made Suntour Superbe Pro components a minimalist's dream. Photo: Andre Haak

However much bicycle connoisseurs valued Suntour Superbe components, Japan’s second son never fully caught the wave of technological innovation that its behemoth counterpart, Shimano, created and promulgated. The Accushift index system that Haak’s team replica features was too little, too late, and the Superbe Pro group never featured integrated shift/brake levers like its competing groups from Shimano and Campagnolo. By the end of 1993, Superbe Pro was gone, and Suntour itself left the marketplace a year later.

Finding a full complement of Superbe Pro parts can be a challenge these days, but Haak got lucky. “I found an almost complete groupset in mint condition from Australia. I was really lucky to find it,” he said.

The rest of the build was a multinational effort, much more so than the Buckler team itself, which was comprised of mostly Dutch and Belgian riders.

The rims came from Spain, the saddle from Italy, the shifters from Germany, the handlebar tape from the USA, the bottom bracket from Holland and the handlebars from Serbia,” said Haak.

As previously mentioned, over a 10 year career, Edwig Van Hooydonck never rode any other bike than a Colnago. This is because he rode for the Dutch team led by Jan Raas the whole of his career with six different title sponsors (Kwantum, Superconfex, Buckler, WordPerfect, Novell and Rabobank). Raas and his Italian bicycle supplier had a solid relationship that lasted from 1984 through 2008, a few years after Raas retired as general manager of the team.