PART 2 including a guide to Columbus MINI MAX Tubing
A Cautionary Tale for Cycling Pedants
When Ben Smith told me this .....
The Leader is built from a Columbus MXL tubeset. Leader stands for the top model, it uses a smaller diameter top tube. It’s an adaptation of Columbus MAX tubing, Merckx specified a smaller diameter top tube because that’s what he preferred to build with. MXL had specifically produced lugs to accommodate the smaller top tube for MINIMAX, essentially everything else is MAX. The tubeset was only produced for Merckx and nick named MINIMAX
..... he added this caveat, "But seriously, as you well know by now, deciphering the exact fact from colorful truths is a fine art and must be dealt with as needed to give a good standard of credibility. The "can of worms" syndrome definitely applies here as we discussed before you blogged, but hey I am no expert train spotter!!
Below we've compiled some extra information on Columbus MINIMAX tubing including some links to useful cycling blogs which discuss MAX tubing. If you've got anything to add, or we've made a ham-fisted mess of it, please drop us a line in the comments below, you never know it might just help someone out with their MINIMAX restoration or bike build of their dreams.
So here's what prompted writing more about Ben's Motorola MX Leader and MINIMAX. I published the article about Ben's fine example of the closest thing to a 1992 Motorola Team Issue MX Leader, Eddy Merckx, Columbus MINIMAX. Next day I'm out for a pedal with frame builder Joe Cosgrove, telling him all about Ben's Merckx factory creation and how it's made from an unobtainable and special MINIMAX tubeset. Joe replies, I've got a set of MINIMAX back at the workshop plus ALL the Merckx catalogues. When Joe says he's got ALL the catalogues, that means every one that was ever available, and sure enough he did.
Now go do your research and you'll find on Velocipede Salon a nice bit of work by the attendant frame building networkers. Hampsten Cycles pitch in here with a piece stolen from Don Ferris of Anvil Bikes,
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.
Note that, "None of it is available, at least not through normal channels, which is a real shame." Well Joe is not what you'd call your normal channel, more a self styled maverick who builds and paints bikes. Joe's own shed and workshop is imbued with so much of Joe's selfness, new visitors are often seen wandering about for hours, with the same slack jawed look as first time attendees inside Dr Who's TARDIS.
Delve a bit further and you find that the only mistake that Ben made was to state that "The tubeset was only produced for Merckx and nick named MINIMAX". Joe's version of the Columbus MINIMAX spec sheet looks aged, and he knew it was available for some time. You can also buy a modern reproduction MINIMAX "BiOval" tubeset for road bikes from Nova Cycle Supply.
Then there's the original Columbus description of 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, climbing and strong centrifugal acceleration when descending. Nivacrom Steel - Weight: 1900 g"A tubeset capable of coping with extremes, so you can see the appeal of Mini Max as a lighter version of it's competent big brother. See the Columbus fact sheet below. For a 52 cm frame there's a possible 200grams weight saving when MINIMAX is used compared with MAX.
Below is a selection of Joe's paraphernalia collected on the MAX theme. Hope these docs may help you with your MAX - MINIMAX Columbus creation. Images of Joe's workshop by Robert Cobcroft.