Unique Colnago prototype bike goes on sale in first 'sealed auction' of Sotheby's Dubai

Diverse set of bidders expected for bright and bold model designed by Japanese expert

The one-off Colnago up for auction in Dubai features bold colours that aren't typical for race bikes. Photo: Sotheby's Dubai
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A one-off prototype bicycle by luxury Italian manufacturer Colnago is going on sale at Sotheby's Dubai, in its first “sealed auction” in the Middle East.

Introduced in 2022, the bike is a limited-edition model of the maker's popular C68 collection. It was designed by Milan-based Japanese designer Motoki Yoshio, who used a dramatic colour scheme to pay “respect for the tradition and quality of the Colnago C series”.

“Usually you design having a goal and a concept in mind,” Yoshio said in a promotional video by Colnago. “Often, for bicycles, this concept is performance, therefore a lot of black and dark tones are used.”

Describing the early stages of the design process, Yoshio said he “drew the lines of the frame components and assigned them strong colours”. The unit features hues of red, pink, purple, green and gold.

The nuances came later, he added, “to give even more harmony and highlight the mainframe components even better”.

Two versions of the frame went into Colnago's final selection process. Ultimately, it chose the version with a glossy finish for a limited production run. The bike that is being auctioned by Sotheby's was the unpicked version, one with a matte finish. It is offered for sale with the original sketch of the model signed by Yoshio himself.

“A bike like this would sell for about $23,000, but that's for the limited-edition glossy version that was released. The one being auctioned is the only one in the world with a matte finish, and it comes with the paperwork from Colnago and the original sketch from Motoki Yoshio,” Paul Redmayne, senior vice president for luxury sales in Dubai, tells The National.

Last May, in Geneva, the auctioneer sold another Colnago bike for $133,000, setting a record for the most valuable racing bicycle ever sold at a non-charity auction.

Redmayne says Sotheby's Dubai is expecting a diverse set of bidders, including cyclists who “will add it to their collection just to exhibit in their homes or offices”, or those who will ride it because of its top-notch specifications. He is also hoping to pique the interest of the UAE's vibrant cycling scene, especially with the UAE Tour coming up next month.

The prototype bike will be exhibited at the Dubai International Financial Centre Sotheby's gallery from Friday, and will be there until January 26. The auction also runs in the same period, with the dedicated online page going live at 4pm on Friday.

Although the sale is open for bidders globally, it marks Sotheby's first sealed auction out of the Dubai office. The online-only format combines elements of a live auction and a private sale. Once someone bids, they will get a number that refers to their ranking among the top 10 bids placed. They won't know the value of the other bids, but they are able to increase theirs until the sale closes.

Updated: January 17, 2024, 9:07 AM