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Fuso Max: Transition from the old to the new

These pictures of a Fuso built in Columbus Max tubing were sent to me by the bike's owner Phil Strong. Phil from San Luis Obispo, California, bought the frame from Art's Cyclery in 1993; this was about the year that I built it.

October 1993 was when I finally left the business. It was a time of transition when bikes were changing in appearence. Up until that point frames had round tubes, standard 11/8 inch down and seat tubes, and a 1 inch top tube.

The Columbus Max tube set intruduced around 1992/93 had oversize tubes that were ovalized at the ends. The top and down tubes were ovalized vertically at the head tube front end, and horizontaly at the other. The tubeset came with a special set of investment cast lugs, bottom bracket shell, and fork crown.


The photos above and left show the seat cluster aragement from the rear and from the side. 

This seat cluster was a little tricky as the seat stays were oval in shape and a normal seat stay cap could not be used. A cap on the side of the seat lug would have looked out of place anyway on this radical new design.

As it turned out the seat lug bulged out where the top tube entered, as the top tube was oval and therefore wider than the seat tube that was a standard 1 1/8 inch diameter at the top end to accommodate the seat post.

This bulge in the seat lug made an obvious spot for the seat stays to merge with the seat lug. The stays had to be hand mitered to fit, then fillet brazed for a smooth transition. The seat tube was oval at the bottom bracket end for extra stiffness.

The picture above shows the ovalized seat and down tubes where they enter the bottom bracket shell. Also note the oval chain stays. I clearly remember doing this one of a kind paint job on this frame. Six bands of masking tape were placed around the tubes, the cut down the length of the tube with an Exacto knife to form squares. The alternate squares were removed to give a checkered effect.

(Above.) The front forkblades and the investment crown that came with this tubeset are interesting. The forkblades are aero in shape, round at the leading edge, and knife edge at the trailing edge. The narrow section fork crown is integral fitting that gives the finished fork a pleasing one peice look.

Phil recently rebuilt the bike up using a 2007 Campagnolo Centaur Gruppo. In an email he wrote:

I felt it would simply look wrong swathed in the black carbon fiber of either Chorus or Record. I built up a set of NOS Mavic GP-4's withthe Centaur hubs, but I need to glue on some new tubulars so it's wearing some Neuvation clincher wheels for the time being. 

I agree with Phil, this gruppo with this frame makes a perfect transition from the old vintage look of the 1980s to the modern all carbon-fiber bike of today. Phil also stated:

In all the years I've had this bike, it NEVER fails to put a smile on my face when I ride it, and I plan to keep riding it for many years to come.You've written more than once that you doubt anyones life has ever been changed by one of your bikes, but I'll tell you this. My life has most certainly been enhanced by one of your bikes.

I thank Phil Strong for these kind words and great picures, two of which I have added to the Gallery page. Phil currently works at Wally's Bicycle Works in San Luis Obispo.


Reader Comments (9)

That is a beautiful bike.

Looks like it's equipped with brifters -- is that original?

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdb

Great article for the love of bikes and the love of riding. Want to go out and ride, and be one with the bike and road now

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMW00@twitter

Without a doubt, that is the niftiest quarter-century old steel fork I've ever seen, never mind how tight it is. Unless those are long reach brakes, the tire clearance is definitely "modern."

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChamps

Super nice bike! Rolling artwork.

May 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterD Dau

"October 1983 was when I finally left the business" should be 1993

Typo will confuse. The bike is 16 years old.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErik Ewald

Thanks Erik,
Typo corrected. I wondered why "Champs" refered to it as "Ouarter century old steel." Sorry for the confusion.

May 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I will be at the race in San Luis Obispo July 4th and will have to visit Wally's World (sic), and say "Hi" to Phil.
Nice to see a conversion done so well. And to see another of your bicycles still on the road as they should be.
Thanks for sharing this.

May 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

What an absolutely beautiful frameset.

But I have to ask, Dave: did you find noticable, real-world riding improvements with the overside & ovalized tubes? Or was it mainly just marketing hype?

May 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen Malec

Please do stop by to say hello. Wally's is a real deal old school bike shop, not a bike "store", and he has a really nice collection of vintage road bikes on display in the shop (Sting-Rays/old Schwinn's too) as well as the new trick racer stuff. Wally is an interesting cat. He grew up in Guatemala, and did alot of road racing throughout Central and South America.
He is a stellar mechanic, and constantly impresses me with his immense knowledge of all things roadie.
I can tell you that I absolutely love the ride and handling of this bike. It's not the lightest thing by any means (then again, neither am I), about 22 pounds as it's built. The tubeset itself is not very heavy, but the lugs required are pretty chunky (according to the info I read at Anvil Bikes website), however it is easily the most laterally rigid steel bike i've ever ridden and it still posseses that classic steel ride quality. Dave's geometry makes for a wonderfully stable bike, that is still extremely nimble and responsive. If anybody reading this hasn't read Dave's article on trail and how it affects handling, do yourself a favor and check out his archives. Thanks to all for the nice comments.

May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhil
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