Friday, November 30, 2007

91st Giro d' Italia Unveiled Tomorrow

Italian cycling fans will be glued to their TVs tomorrow afternoon beginning at 5:45 p.m. to view the RAI3 live broadcast of the unveiling of the 2008, 91st edition, of the Giro d' Italia.

Among the celebrities at the Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan will be Bettini, Garzelli, Simoni, Di Luca, Petacchi, Pozzato, Bennati, Riccò, plus many of the top foreign cyclists.
It is already known that the Giro will begin in Palermo, Sicily, on May 10th and end at the now traditional finish in Milan on June 1st. Details about the first three stages, all in Sicily, have been leaked: May 10: Team Time Trial in Palermo, 28.5km; May 11th: stage Cefalù-Agrigento, 207 km; May 12: stage Catania-Milazzo, 208 km. The word in Verona is that a stage will begin here about May 24th and head north to the Lessinia region of northern Verona province. Hopefully, that will be confirmed tomorrow.
Past stages of the Giro, and winners, in Sicily:
1930 (vincitore Luigi Marchisio, Legnano) Messina-Catania (km 174) 1. MARA Michele Catania-Palermo (km 280) 1. FRASCARELLI Leonida Palermo-Messina (km 257) 1. MARCHISIO Luigi

1949 (vincitore Fausto Coppi, Bianchi) Palermo-Catania (km 261) 1. FAZIO Mario Catania-Messina (km 263) 1. MAGGINI Sergio

1954 (vincitore Carlo Clerici, Guerra) Cronosquadre Palermo (km 36) 1. BIANCHI (Coppi, Gismondi, Filippi) Palermo-Taormina (km 280) 1. MINARDI Giuseppe

1961 (vincitore Arnaldo Pambianco, Fides) Marsala-Palermo (km 144) 1. PROST Louis (Bel) Palermo-Milazzo (km 224) 1. DEFILIPPIS Nino

1965 (vincitore Vittorio Adorni, Salvarani) Messina-Palermo (km 260) 1. MELDOLESI Domenico Palermo-Agrigento (km 146) 1.CARLESI Guido Agrigento-Siracusa (km 230) 1. MARCOLI Raffaele Catania-Taormina (crono km 50) 1. ADORNI Vittorio

1967 (vincitore Felice Gimondi, Salvarani) Circuito M. Pellegrino (km 63) 1. ALTIG Rudy (Ger) Catania-Etna (km 169) 1. BITOSSI Franco

1972 (vincitore Eddy Merckx, Molteni) Circuito Peloritani (km 110) 1. VAN VLIERBERGHE Albert (Bel)

1976 (vincitore Felice Gimondi, Bianchi-Campagnolo) Semitappa Catania (km 64) 1. SERCU Patrick (Bel) Semitappa Catania-Siracusa (km 78) 1. SERCU Patrick (Bel) Siracusa-Caltanisetta (km 210) 1. DE VLAEMINCK Roger (Bel) Caltanisetta-Palermo (km 163) 1. VAN LINDEN Rik (Bel) Cefalù-Messina (km 192) 1. MOSER Francesco

1982 (vincitore Bernard Hinault, Renault-Elf-Gitane) Taormina-Agrigento (km 248) 1. ARGENTIN Moreno Agrigento-Palermo (km 151) 1. SARONNI Giuseppe Cefalù-Messina (km 197) 1. FREULER Urs (Svi)

1986 (vincitore Roberto Visentini, Carrera) Millemetri Palermo (crono km 1) 1. FREULER Urs (Svi) Palermo-Sciacca (km 140) 1. SANTIMARIA Sergio Sciacca-Catania (km 259) 1. VAN POPPEL Jean Paul (Ola) Catania-Taormina (cr.sq. km 50) 1. DEL TONGO-COLNAGO (Saronni)

1989 (vincitore Laurent Fignon, System U) Taormina-Catania (km 123) 1. VAN POPPEL Jean Paul (Ola) Catania-Etna (km 132) 1. DA SILVA Acacio (Por) Villafranca T.-Messina (cr.sq. km 32,5) 1. ARIOSTEA

1993 (vincitore Miguel Indurain, Banesto) Villafranca T.-Messina (km 130) 1. BONTEMPI Guido Capo d'Orlando-Agrigento (km 240) 1. RIJS Bjarne (Dan) Agrigento-Palermo (km 140) 1. BAFFI Adriano

1999 (vincitore Ivan Gotti, Team Polti) Agrigento-Modica (km 175) 1. QUARANTA IvanNoto-Catania (km 133) 1. CIPOLLINI MarioCatania-Messina (km 176) 1. BLJILEVENS Jeroen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Lioness in Sheep's Clothing

Marisa is one of the friends I've made here. Quiet, unassuming, and relaxed, she doesn't even seem like a cyclist when you first meet her. Which was the case when I first met her at a Bianchi bike shop, VRMoto, in Verona which she was the co-owner of at the time. I didn't learn until later that she was a full fledged racer that has competed in the women's Giro d' Italia and won major granfondos. She and her business partner have since sold the shop and now she is once again concentrating on racing and winning for the ENJOY TEAM of Verona.

A Ride for the View

November is traditionally the month of rest off the bike here in Italy. My club continues its Wednesday and Saturday rides but they are much more relaxed and shorter. We typically ride to Bardolino and linger over expresso so that we will arrive back at Boscomantico for lunch time. This will be the general routine until January, getting in base miles and maintaining fitness.

On this particular day Atillio and I decided to take our guests, Brent and Pasquale, through Garda and onto to Torri del Bennaco where we climbed towards Albisano and were rewarded with exceptional views of Lake Garda.
top: Brent (who didn't think it was cold at all), me, Pasquale
bottom: Atillio, me, Pasquale (with Torri del Bennaco in the background)

There's A Road...A 35% One

I first discovered this gem riding with my USA/Veronese friend Tricia. We had descended this road, very steep but manageable. Until a certain point that is. All of a sudden it looked like a chute. Not only that, the steepest part of the road was going around a bend where the surface was broken. It was the first time either of us got off our bikes to walk since being in Italy.

Early this month, during Brent's visit and ride to Soave, we found the road again. This time from the bottom where the 35% sign serves as a warning as to what's in store.

Photo: from Brent's Iphone

Monday, November 26, 2007

Latest News: 2008 Maratona dles Dolomites

Facts and figures for the Maratona:
29 June 2008 is event day
22nd edition of Maratona dles Dolomites
17.370 pre-registrations where put into the draw
1504 preregistered women
40% preregistered participants in the age between 40 and 49 years
495 preregistered persons named Marco; 415 named Roberto
22 possible days for preregistering
790 pre-registrations received per day, average
8500 the maximum number of participants
50% international participants
35 participant nations

There still opportunities to enter through special drawings:
1) 150 registrations for charity:
-144 "Gold" starting-numbers at a cost of Euro 150,00 each
-6 "Platinum" starting-numbers at a cost of Euro 300,00 each
"Last year, with part of the money raised from the Maratona, we helped dig wells in Africa. This year, we have asked the GMM (Gruppo Missionario Merano) to suggest another project to finance. This is the proposal: to bring woods back to the mountains in Latin America. The project consists of the reforestation of some hectares of mountainous land in the Sierra of Ecuador (Andes),which over the centuries have been cleared with negative consequences for the environment and for man. The reforestation, by the Operation Mato Grosso in collaboration with the GMM (Gruppo Missionario Merano), is carried out by involving the youngsters in the mountain villages. It will be possible to register only through the Internet with on-line payment by credit card starting November 28th starting at 6 p.m. (Central European Time which is GMT +1) via"

2) TRACES OF LIFE enrollments: Contribute to the reforestation of a hectare of mountain in Ecuador by buying a “Traces of life” enrollment. A Traces of Life enrolment costs euro 1,500 and will cover a surface area of one hectar with woods. It will be possible to register only through the Internet with on-line payment by credit card. These special starting-tickets will be entitled to a further small souvenir of the event and to start in a preferential grid.

"The reforestation of the Andes:
The project which will be financed by the 2008 Maratona consists of the reforestation of some hectares of mountainous land in the Sierra of Ecuador (Andes). Over the centuries, the mountains in the Sierra of Ecuador (between 3,000 and 4,000 metres above sea level) have been cleared for wood and for fields to cultivate. The absence of trees has a series of highly negative consequences: it accelerates erosion, water grows scarce and people are driven to emigrate because the land becomes barren. Reforestation, promoted by the Operation Mato Grosso, is done by the young people in the mountain villages. Reforestation has multiple and clear objectives:
- to give work to young people
- to prevent emigration
- to produce firewood or timber for building (as the woods have to be thinned occasionally as they grow)
- to prevent erosion
- to retain water.
The benefits are not only at local level but also at global level."

The GMM also works in a number of countries in West Africa (Benin, Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso), digging wells, building health structures and schools and promoting “distance adoptions” and the meeting of cultures. For more info about the organization email to:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Columbus Steel, Tubing for Frame Building

1953 Columbus decals^

My latest project was a frame built with Columbus EL-OS (Over Size) steel tubing. Columbus steel tubing has long been the preferred steel tubeset for Italian framemakers. There have been quite a number of improvements and innovations through the years resulting in a large number of different tubesets. The framebuilder typically applies a Columbus frame decal to indicate the tubeset he used. These are very helpful in identifying the quality of the tubeset, and in the case of an older frame, identifying the approximate period in which it was built. The oldest frame decal, in foil, looks like this:

On this page I will continue to add photographs of the various Coulmbus frame decals that have been used.

First some history that appeared at one time on the Columbus website:

1919: "I want to do business in iron and steel and make a fair and honest profit" wrote Angelo Luigi Colombo, aged 27, to the lessee of what was shortly to become A.L.Colombo's small factory, the parent plant of the current Columbus. Angelo Luigi had started work for a metallurgical factory in Milan when he was just 12 years old and, in 1919, after gaining sufficient experience, had decided to establish himself, seeing the cycling sector as fertile ground for the enormous innovative potential and obvious entrepreneurial vocation that inspired him. His first customers were mostly small manufactures obtaining supplies of metal tubes for saddle pillars, bent tubes for frames and handlebars, saddles and fork blades and tubes for pedals. Supplies were also aimed at the first leading cycling factories: Edoardo Bianchi,Umberto Dei, Giovanni Maino and Fratelli Doniselli. Five workers, an annealing furnace, a 10 ton draw bench and a great desire for success: that was the first A.L.Colombo plant in via Stradella, Milan, 1,300 square metres to produce.

1931: With 10 draw benches, one fixed-hearth electric furnace, tanks and auxiliary equipment, the company was able to manufacture welded and seamless steel tubes used for the production of bicycles and motorcycles(Guzzi was winning on world circuits at the time with frames made of Colombo tubes), cars and airplanes. Cooperation with Gianni Caproni goes back to the period. Using Colombo tubes, the bearing frames of the aircraft of De Pinedo and Cesare Balbo were produced to make the first Atlantic Crossing. From the story of aviation to the story of modern furniture: Colombo started to produce rational, tubular furniture made of chrome steel. This proved to be a real commercial success, building an image which is today recognized among the design leaders. Colombo worked with the best rationalist architects at the time: Giuseppe Terragni, Giuseppe Pagano, Piero Bottoni, Mario Pucci and Ercole Faccioli.

1950: A.L. Colombo became a joint-stock company and Colombo's son, Gilberto, joined the company. Appointed plant manager, Gilberto Colombo began designing car chassis, setting up the company Gilco whose customers include Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia. The passion of cycling throughout this context remained alive and strong, the ideal ground for experimenting in the mechanical and metallurgic field (the first news of coopertaion between A.L. Colombo and the Polythecnic of Milan goes back to 1935). The main prerogative was always the same: to market products of superior quality in terms of finish and precision, following and complying with customers' wishes, solving technical problems.

1977: It was Antonio Colombo, Angelo's youngest son, who made a simple mark, Columbus, into the leading company for the production of tubes for top-of-the range frames. Antonio left the position of Chairman of A.L.Colombo and separated Columbus from the parent company to concentrate on the production of bicycle tubes. The automobile and aeronautical experience provided an ideal support for the new company, Columbus S.r.l., and there have been constant innovations since it was set up: the steering column with a tapered screw was introduced and Cyclex steel was launched, specificallydesigned for cycling use, followed by Nivacrom, one of Columbus'greatest innovations. Patented by the company, this steel was produced in the laboratory with the aim of reducing the decline in themechanical characteristics of the material during welding. The best designer worked with Antonio Colombo designing the new bicycle of the Eighties, the new mission of the new Columbus. Before making a series of11 totally aerodynamic tubes (AIR, 1980) Columbus placed its experience at the service of Moser for its Time Trials records, then passing through Oersted and Rominger. MAX (1987) was the first tube-set to break tradition of conventional diameters (25.4 mm for the top tube and 28.6mm for the down tube) with its 31.7 mm (top tube) and 35 mm (down tube). Max was a revolution in the frame construction system, allowing very tall or very heavy men to have a light but extremely strong frame and introduced the concept of oriented ellipses and differentiated sections, applied to each of the 11 tubes, to give the frame greater rigidity.

1991: The Genius tubing, made of Nivacrom steel, was an unprecedented success. For the first time in the history of cycling, the concept of"Differential Shape Butting" appeared, which only Columbus technology, now the master of the know-how connected with the strain of a frame could design. In 1994, to celebrate 110 years of Bianchi, Columbus strengthened the friendship that born between the fathers of the two companies, making MEGATUBE solely for the Treviglio company, the first oversize tube for high-performance, strong and lightframes. Megatube has become a must and is now one of the strong pointsof the Milanese company, with more than 14 different shapes. In 1995, the Columbus adventure also began in the mountain bike sector with the OR tubing for Cinelli and the custom series for Tom Ritchey (the first fork blades with a variable thickness). With the CYBER tube set (1994), specifically for mtb use, with subsequent forms, and then with Genius mtb, Columbus began accumulating World Championship mtb victories: from Brentjens with American Eagle to Acquaroli with Bianchi, to the Sunn Team and their multi-medallists Vouilloz, Martinez and Chausson. The competitive sector is obviously not the least: from Coppi and Bartoli who were the first to use the Columbus tubes, passing through Merckx, Gimondi, Hinault, Lemond, Argentin, Fondriest, Chiappucci, Roche, Rominger, Pantani, Chioccioli, Armstrong, Rijs, Bartoli and Olano to Tonkov, Brochard, Zuelle and Virenque.

1996: NEMO emerged and is the most sophisticated expression of cycling engineering: from a study on stress applied to the frame, produced using a portable recording system and with the subsequent FEM calculation (Finished Elements Measurement) the map of stresses in the frame and the ZBC technology(Zone Butted Concept) emerged. Reinforcements were located and adjusted to the actual work load.

1998: from Columbus S.p.A. to Columbus Division of Gruppo S.p.A.: it is the new image of the company that - from the historical plant in Milan in Via dei Pestagalli - has moved to Caleppio di Settala, together with Cinelli and 3T. Top-of-the-range frames production, customer oriented: Columbus designs and produces special solutions for its customers; production and design quality, technological innovation and creativity are the leading characteristics of the company. Today Columbus introduces Thermacrom the latest generation steel alloy. The future in bicycle frame manufacturing is here. The new Gruppo plant is in Caleppio di Settala, a few kilometers from Milano Linate airport, 10 Km from the centre of Milan. The grounds extend over an area of more than 26,000 square metres, 8,000 of which are occupied by the plant while the offices are situated in a separate building. The Caleppio plant cooperates with the Mathi Canavese (TO) plant, where handlebars are produced. Antonio Colombo, President of President of Gruppo S.p.a. :

1999: Columbus introduces THERMACROM the most innovative cycling purposed steel: It gives incredible lightness and the most durable, high performance mechanical characteristics.

2000: Columbus introduces STARSHIP: a 6000 series aerospatial HT light aluminum alloy that will allow the lightest frames ever made together with the highest mechanical characteristics. Starship sets itself at the top becoming the reference point for any superlight, superstiff road racing or mtb frame.

2002: Columbus launches XLR8R a new 7000 alloy. As good as Starship, XLR8R introduces the concept of Multi Shape Damping Effect.

2003: Custom made frames in carbon fiber are no longer a dream. Columbus introduces XLR8R Carbon, a serie of carbon tubes made for road racing competition.

2004: Columbus introduces Spirit. Steel is coming back in the cycling field with this innovative, high performance tube-set. In the mean time, the range of carbon fiber frame kits (rear stays and forks), widens and becomes a core business of the Columbus production.

Photos: images of Columbus decals (the Z one is for Zeta)

Information from 1989 Columbus catalog:

MAX: Tube set for special racing bikes made from the exclusive Nivacrom® steel with exceptional strength characteristics.The elliptical cross-sections are oriented in such a way that the major axes are directly opposed to the highest active and passive stresses.This set has been designed to optimize efficiency under the demands of extreme bads: sprint, time trials, climbingand strong centrifugal acceleration when descending. Nivacrom Steel - Weight: 1900 g

EL: Tube set for time trials over even terrain, climbs and triathlon events. Super-lightweight thanks to the reduced thickness of tubing made from the exclusive Nivacrom" steel with a very high yield point.Double-butted tubes and oval, butted unicrown fork blades. Nivacrom Steel - Weight: 1670

EL-OS: Drawing on the experience with the EL set in the toughest professional competitions, this set features tubes of comparable lightness but with increased diameters for greater rigidity thanks to the use of the exclusive Nivacrom* steel.Nivacrom® Steel - Weight: 1800 g

Here is a brief description of the technicalities involved in this amazing tubing:"It is how and where the steel is put in the tubeset that gives a tubeset its particular feel. By making the tubes oversize or standard, thick-wall or thin; these are what make the difference. Higher tensile strengths give the maker the versatility to put the steel where he wants, in the quantity he wants. An EL-OS tubeset made of Nivachrome is thin, light, and strong. A bike made of it has a superb ride because its excellent specifications allow Columbus the freedom to make tubes that were impossible a few years ago.In the 1970's and 1980's when Columbus' SL and SLX tubing were the state of the art, the top tube was 25mm in diameter and the downtube was 28mm in diameter. The tubing wall was 0.9mm thick at the ends and drawn down to 0.6mm in the center of the tubes. This is what is meant by "double butted". The internal diameter of the tube varies so that the tube is thicker at the joints, where the stress is greatest.In the early 1990's, steel tubes underwent a small revolution. The top tube changed from 25mm diameter to 28mm. The down tube went from 28mm to 32mm. This increase in diameter allowed the tubing makers to make the walls thinner and still get a stiffer, lighter frame. An additional bonus was the profound improvement in the feel of the bike. The new bikes became more stable (mostly because of the bigger top tube) and gained a fluid, beautiful feel that is impossible to describe, but wonderful to experience.With these bigger diameter tubes, the wall thickness at the thinnest part of the tubes went from 0.6mm to 0.5mm and even 0.4mm. Columbus' Brain Oversize (or Brain OS) was 0.8mm at the butt and drawn down to 0.5mm in the center section. People loved the feel of Brain OS bikes, especially since the price was so reasonable.But...there was something truly special waiting for those that bought bikes made of EL-OS. EL-OS was 0.7mm at the butt and drawn down to 0.4mm in the center section. First of all, there was a reduction in weight, about 1/4 pound. That's always nice. The biggest bonus was in how the bike felt. Anyone who has ridden an EL-OS bike built by a good builder understands what a supple, beautiful, wonderful bike really is.The problem was that getting a 0.4mm tubeset bike was expensive. Even now, almost a decade later, there are tubing companies that do not even have the technology to draw a 0.4mm tube. Even though Columbus can now draw 0.385 (a reduction of 15 thousandths of a millimeter from 0.4mm), I think we can safely say that 0.4mm is still the state of the art.(Courtesy of Smartcycles.)

TSX: Tube set for professional use, coupling maximum performance with reduced weight. It is particularly suitable for stage races of more than 150 Km over mixed terrain. In addition to butted walls, this set has five helicoidal internal reinforcements, thus giving greater rigidity against tube flexing and torsion.Cyclex Steel - Weight: 1945 g

SLX: "Superbutted" tube set specially designed for professional cyclists, featuring five spirals for greater rigidity in the joint area or the bottom bracket.Double-butted tube ends. Cyclex Steel - Weight: 1966 g

SPX: "Superbutted" tube set with increased thickness for professional cyclists. Ideal for larqe frames. Double-butted tube ends.Cyclex Steel - Weight: 2325 g

MS: Multishape, special tube set developed in collaboration with Gilco Design. Each tube profile is shaped to withstand specific stresses.Designed for competition use, it requires a precise riding style, and improves frame response to sudden shocks.Cyclex Steel - Weight: 1930 g

SL: All-purpose, high-performance tube set for road races over even terrain. Double-butted tubes. Cold-rolled fork blades.Cyclex Steel - Weight: 1925 g

SP: Heavy-duty, high-performance set, especially recommended for large frames. Double-butted tubing. Cold-rolled fork blades.Cyclex Steel - Weight: 2215 g

CROMOR: Built of cold-drawn, chrome-moly butted tubing, this set is for the more demanding riders who favour versatile, high-performance light frames, but can also be used for larger frames. Cr Mo Steel - Weight: 2190 g (Note: Columbus Matrix was the first name for Colombus Cromor; Matrix became Cromo when Trek asserted their right to the Matrix name.)

GARA: Road set especially suited for amateur and touring cyclists who demand stout,lightweight racing frames. Cr Mo Steel - Weight: 2300 g

AELLE: Set for amateur and touring cyclists, built of cold-drawn, microalloyed-steel thin-wall tubing which makes it especially lightweight.CMn Steel - Weight: 2345

MAX OR: Set exclusively designed for the toughest off-road races. The oversized oriented elliptical cross-sections have thicknessesof as little as 0.5-0.6 mm, thanks to the exceptional characteristics of the exclusive Nivacrom® steel.The oversized unicrown fork blades are cold-rolled for greater elastic strength and resilience.Nivacrom® Steel - Weight: 2180 g

NIVA OR: Tube set for off-road competitions and high-performance riding.It combines the excellent performance of Nivacrom' steel with the traditional diameters.Nivacrom Steel - Weight: 2220 g

NIVA OR OVERSIZE: Set built of oversized, round-section tubing for maximum off-road performance. The butted tubes are in the exclusiveNivacrom® steel, which has made it possible to increase diameter while reducing thickness, and hence weight.These features, and in particular the oversized tube cross-sections, ensure excellent rigidityand good handling over rugged terrain, making this set idea for competitions.Nivacrom Steel - Weight: 2000 g

CROMOR OR: Set for off-road experts who want to take on any terrain, regardless of difficulty,enjoying the maximum safety and dependability of an indestructible vehicle.The cold-drawn, chrome-moly tubing has butted ends.The butted unicrown fork blades have increased thickness in the weld areas.CrMo Steel • Weight: 2495 g

CROMOR OR OVERSIZE: Chrome-moly set specially designed for the most demanding mountain-bike enthusiasts.Oversized tube diameters give the frame excellent rigidity and stability,offering both pro and amateur cyclists a good measure of safety coupledwith the characteristic lightness of Columbus butted tubing.CrMo Steel - Weight: 2580 g

GARA OR: In addition to the advantages offered by the GARA set, different diametersand thicknesses in the three tubes of the triangle make this MTB set highlyshock-absorbing and resistant to stresses on rough terrain.CrMo Steel – Weight: 2740 g

Columbus frame tubes for track races:

PL for pursuit or record races tubeset weight 1845 gms

PS for sprint and 6-day races tubeset weight 2435 gms

Note: Columbus KL: 1670 (from undated catalog showing Moser in his record attempt, and has MS and SLX tubesets listed, as 'new')

Columbus AIR: the following was found on the internet:

"Columbus Air was the Italian manufacturer's initial attempt at an aerodynamic tubeset. It dates from the early 1980's. The intial version used a teardrop shaped down tube, seat tube and seat stays in conjunction with an oval top tube and chain stays, and a round head tube. Later versions had teardrop shaped chain stays. The tubeset was designed primarily for time trials and aerodymanic efficiency and therefore it is not practical to compare it directly to other round, Columbus tubesets. However, based on tube thickness, the seat stays were equivalent to KL and the chainstays, seat tube and top tube were equivalent to SL, while the down tube was equivalent to SP. Due to the teardrop shapes the resulting frames weighed more than SL, but had less strength. The rear triangles in particular had a reputation for being whippy, due to the thin seat stays. However, this was considered acceptable given the intended TT use and aerodynamic advantages.Of particular note, the seat tube came in two versions. One with a standard round top end, to accept a normal seat post and another which carried the teardrop section right to the top, requiring a teardrop section seatpost. If you have the latter, you may have some difficulty finding a seatpost, unless it is being provided with the frame.Regarding componentry, most frames built with this tubing were outfitted with Shimano Dura Ace AX, or less likely, 600AX. Campagnolo did not have an aero group at the time and the Italian farme builders did not want to miss out on the aero bandwagon, in the event it turned out to be the latest craze."

Columbus Genius: In 1991 Columbus introduced a new steel tubeset, the steel was called Nivacrom and the first tubing made from it was named GENIUS. GENIUS also used Differential Butted Shape butts (DBS) a new features in tubesets in which the shape of the butt actually follows the area of the tube where most of the stress is. It comes in a different shape on different places on the tubes. Columbus made butted ends on GENIUS shorter, so the whole set was the first one strictly designed for TiG welding. A wide selection of tube thicknesses and diameters allowed GENIUS tubing to be used in many different types of frame types.

NOTE: this site has a chart of the weight of each piece of a tubeset.

Some weight comparisons of Columbus, Reynolds and Tange:

REYNOLDS 501 2025

REYNOLDS 531C 1800

REYNOLDS 531P 1700

REYNOLDS 653 1700

REYNOLDS 753 1650












TANGE 2 2290

TANGE 1 2220


ISHIWATA 022 2200

ORIA ML 25 2100

VITUS 171, VITUS 172, VITUS 181 1790

VITUS 888 2030

VITUS 971 ?

VITUS 980 1507

VITUS 983 1624

VITUS Prestige ?

TRUE TEMPER, by order of weight, higher to lower: RCR, RC, RCX

The Columbus MAX tubeset is somewhat of a legend in the cycling world; here is how describes it:

The Columbus MAX tube set is one of my very favorite steel tube sets so I thought I’d share a bit about it. The real MAX, which is probably most famous as the tubes used to construct the Merckx MX Leader (except the MXL’s top tube and seat stays which weren't the original MAX shape), had a 40mm x 30mm biaxially ovalized down tube and is shaped from a 35mm round tube with a .8/.5/.8mm butting profile. The MAX seat tube is also ovalized and shaped from a 31.7mm round tube with a 28.6mm diameter at the top and a 37x26.5 ovalization at the BB shell and an .8/.5mm butting profile. The 37mm axis was oriented with the long axis of the BB shell. The chainstays are 36mm tall and 18.5mm wide with a .6mm wall. When you consider these are steel, they're monsters!The real MAX top tube is based on a 31.7mm tube and biaxially ovalized to 37.5x26mm with a .7/.4/.7mm butting profile. When installed on a frame, the 37.5mm axis followed the long axis of the head tube yet traverses the seat tube, meaning it is significantly wider than the seat tube, which creates either a really weird looking lug or a whole bunch of cool opportunities depending on your point of view. I hold the latter.MAX seatstays are typically delivered ovalized to 18.5x12mm.After a scare that MAX was history, it appears that MAX tube sets are still readily available through Columbus even though it hasn't been carried on the books for more than a few years now and I have been able to keep several sets on hand. I use MAX top and down tubes on a lot of the MTBs I build and the entire tube set on many custom road frames. These days I like to build a lot of road frames with a MAX front triangle and a Foco rear. That combination results in a really sweet frame. Check out the gallery and you’ll see some examples.Contrary to popular belief, the MAX tube set really wasn't that heavy at around 1500 grams for the frame tubes (mitered for a 58cm bike, not raw). That made it only about a hundred grams more than the standard EL/OS tube set and a little less than today's Columbus Thron. The weight culprit was those Monster Truck sized lugs. Depending on the casting, the BB shell alone weighed 260 to 290 grams! Compare that to my normal butted Tig cromo shell weight of 100 grams. The balance of the MAX lugs weighed another 170 odd grams (not including dropouts), so the lugs added 3/4 of a pound right there. The plus side is that it's all added in good places and an owner of a properly assembled MAX lug bike can consider it the last bike you should ever have to purchase even if it's not the last one you'll want.Along with MAX there was also a "MiniMAX" tubeset which had the same shapes as MAX, but all the tube sizes were reduced .125" with the same or less wall thickness and the chainstays were short at 26mm compared to today’s normal 30mm (for steel). This gave a lighter frame. None of it is available, at least not through normal channels, which is a real shame.
There was also the MAX MTB tube set. It's the same as the Road set save the seat tube and chainstays, which have thicker walls and the chainstays having a single bend for MTB tire clearance. The Tandem set was also regular MAX but included a keel tube.
A lot of folks will tell that the MAX tubeset is too stiff for anybody but big strong guys and that's just not true. It’s an excellent choice for a lot of people in 150+ pound range for road bikes and just about anyone for MTBs. It’s tough, it’s not too heavy, and it’ll be there for you in thick or thin and it looks cool. What more could you ask for?

Columbus XCr:

In cooperation with Trafiltubi and Aubert & Duval, the new Columbus seamless tube set in stainless steel named XCr, was created. Starting form a specific request of the military industry, looking for a valid substitute for cadmium plated temper hardening steels which could no longer be produced because of their highly polluting manufacturing process, a new martensitic stainless steel with high content of Chromium and Molybdenum and Nickel as alloy elements which increase the mechanical and weldability characteristics, was created. The martensitic main structure contains traces of austenite that reduces the possibility of crack formation especially during the welding process. The great weldability properties of the new XCr stainless steel, together with its high fatigue resistance and its extraordinary geometrical stability at high temperatures, make this material the natural element for welded structures, such as bicycle frames. Thanks to the high stiffness/weight and UTS/weight ratios (better than titanium and aluminium alloys) together with the elevated characteristics of corrosion resistance, it is possible to manufacture triple butted tubes to build extremely light and indestructible frames.

The Columbus website is:



Via G.Di Vittorio 21 - 20090 Caleppio di Settala (MI)

tel +39.02.95244.1 fax +39.02.95244.239

Antonio Colombo, right, in 2008