Tuesday, August 4, 2009

MaxiSilenus, Columbus MAX, by Zullo

Frame builder Tiziano Zullo, of Castelnuovo del Garda, Verona, is producing a limited, numbered, edition of twenty "MaxSilenus" lugged frames made with Columbus MAX. I am waiting to receive pricing info.

The MAX was a tubeset was introduced in 1987 and designed for special racing bikes. Made from exclusive Nivacrom® steel it had exceptional strength characteristics.The top, seat, and downtube are ovalized so that the major axes are directly opposed to the highest active and passive stresses. The chainstays are massive, 36mm tall and 18.5mm wide with a .6mm wall. The concept of oriented ellipses and differentiated sections was applied to all the tubes in the 11 piece tubeset. A MAX tubeset weighed 1900g and a full lugset could add another 340g.

The use of the specially shaped tubes required special lugs (unless a frame was built using the TIG method, and these types of Columbus MAX frames exist as well). In recent years the lack of these special lugs has been the barrier to building MAX frames.

The best known Columbus MAX bikes, and sought by collectors, are the Eddy Merckx "MX Leader" frames. These fall into two basic categories, the originals and the anniversary (which came with threadless steel forks rather than threaded forks).

As one framebuilder said of a properly assembled MAX lug frame, "Consider it the last bike you should ever have to purchase even if it's not the last one you'll want."

See http://www.zullo-bike.com/ for contact information.

Photos: Zullo MaxSilenus

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  1. Aren't all 20 limited editions sold out?

  2. The Merckx rode like a beast! That is you better have an iron ass to match the iron ride!! (or carbon up everything you can) Nice looking frame.

  3. To get really specific there are actually multiple variations within the "original" Max/MXL frames that Merckx made.

    90-91: full MAX tubing, various forks used...MAX sticker on seat tube

    92: MAX tubing & bb shell but EL/OS top tube, MAX sticker

    93 on: MXL tubing, Merckx BB shell, MXL stickered

    Early versions also incorporated seat stays into a seat stay cluster/lug as opposed to being brazed onto the outside of the lug.

  4. There were 100 limited editions made and all were sold rather quickly. You can differentiate the reissues from the originals quickly as they lack chrome on the chain stays. The ride is actually sublime and arguably one of the best riding frames ever made. I have a Colnago C50 and it's hard to choose between them some times.

    To be really specific there are also various variations of the original MAX/MXL frameset. The earliest used all MAX tubing & bb sheel and carried a MAX sticker, some had EL/OS top tubes, and the last original version had a Merckx specific BB shell, MXL tubing and a MXL sticker. All are great bikes regardless of the variation.

  5. Thanks for all the good details about MAX!

  6. I had a lugged,fillet brazed,and tig welded max frames.Tig is best and has a supple ride compared to lugged,

  7. While I don't know about the Merckx MX Leader "beast"-like ride, I ride a Grandis Max and it rides very well. I weigh 190 pounds so that's one consideration. The Max tubing doesn't flex at the bottom bracket when I sprint, and it controls the front end well when I'm sweeping down steep hills at 30+ mph going over rippled pavement, whereas my Columbus SL and Reynolds 531 bikes don't feel as good. Yes, the Grandis Max is not as soft a ride as some other of my bikes but I don't find it painful on the heinie either. Your mileage may vary.

  8. ZUllo framesets and complete bicycles are available in the US at www.bicycles4ever.com