Heritage-rich Italian brand Colnago, which you might recognise from between the legs of Tadej Pogacar and Alexander ‘The Stavanger Stallion’ Kristoff, has unveiled its latest release.
It is the lightest frameset in the company’s history, it’s limited to just a single edition, and it is being auctioned off from May 11, with a starting price of €5,515.00 (AU$8,538 / US$6,621).
Sounds like an outrageous bargain, right?
Not so fast: there’s a catch.
“The greatest thing about this is that our C64 NFT will never be replicated by us as a physical frame – it will only be digital,” Colnago’s Head of Marketing, Manolo Bertocchi, said in a press release announcing the bike, showing a profoundly different understanding to my own of the phrase “the greatest thing”.
That said, Bertocchi has excelled in the important metrics of A) getting me to write about Colnago and B) his employer getting paid for a bike that they never have to make … so, well played Manolo.
Let me try to unpack what’s going on here.
Unlike any other bike on the market, you can’t ride this ultra-limited edition Colnago C64, because it is a digital rendering. Actually, that’s not quite right. What Colnago is selling isn’t the digital rendering itself, but rather the right to call yourself the sole owner of the digital rendering, even though it’s available to everyone. For free.
It is a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique digital asset that cannot be replicated. It is stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain which records the owner of the NFT as the sole, rightful owner.
That means that literally anyone can look at a picture of the Colnago C64 NFT – there it is! Up the top! – and can even download an MP4 video of the thing swivelling around in digital space – here you go! – and in that sense, you are having some sort of a time.
But you will never own it, despite it being there on your computer, because somebody else has spent thousands of dollars for that privilege. Meanwhile, enormous server farms of computers are humming along, exacerbating the planet’s hasty demise, because somebody wants a digital certificate showing that they own an MP4 of a colourful bicycle.
Finish us now.