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Columbus

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FROM BICYCLE FRAMES TO FERRARI CHASSIS, PASSING THROUGH FURNITURE AND SKI-STICKS.


”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 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 his entrepreneurial vocation. His first customers were mostly small manufacturers but also leading cycling factories: Edoardo Bianchi, Umberto Dei, Atala, Giovanni Maino, and the Fratelli Doniselli.

Being aware of market movements, curious and highly motivated, Angelo Luigi brought the company through the Second World War and the revival, constantly developping his technological equipment, machinery and men, diversifying interests and production. In 1931, the company was able to manufacture welded and seamless steel tubes used for the production of bicycles motorcycles (Guzzi was winning with frames made of Colombo tubes), cars and aeroplanes. Cooperation with Gianni Caproni goes back to that period. Using Colombo tubes, the bearing frames of the aircraft of De Pinedo and Cesare Balbo were produced to make the first Atlantic crossings.

From the story of aviation to the story of modern furniture: again in the ‘30s, A.L. Colombo started to produce rational, tubular furniture made of chrome steel. This proved to be a real commercial [[success, which is recognized today among the design leaders. Still in the ‘30s, the first set of special tubes for bicycles were produced: Aelle, Tenax]] and Columbus.

Under the Columbus mark, the first reinforced tubes with a tapered thickness made of molybdenum chrome steel in the history of cycling appeared, as well as the first cold-rolled elliptical fork blades. With a broad sample collection in production (tubes for electrical equipment, ski-sticks, ship boiler vaporizers, tennis court poles, springs for cushions, car seats and mattresses, under the Igea-Columbus mark). Colombo laid down specific regulations in those years that have characterized the company’s entire history. In 1950 A.L. Colombo became a joint-stock company and Colombo’s son, Gilberto, joined the company. He began designing car chassis, setting up the company Gilco whose customers include Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia. Fangio, Ascari and Villoresi therefore raced in cars with Colombo chassis. The passion for cycling throughout this context remained alive and strong. It was Angelo’s youngest son, Antonio, however, who made a simple mark, Columbus, into the leading company for the production of tubes for top-of-the-range frames. Antonio Colombo joined the company while he was still studying law. In 1977, he left the position of Chairman of A.L. Colombo and separated Columbus from the parent company to concentrate on the production of bicycle tubes; 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, specifically designed for cycling use, followed by NIVACROM, one of Columbus’ greatest innovations. Before making a series of 11 totally aerodynamic tubes (AIR, 1980) Columbus placed its experience at the service of Moser for its Time Trial records, then passing through Oersted to Rominger. MAX (1987) was the first tube-set to break the tradition of conventional diameters. Max introduced the concept of orientated ellipses and differentiated sections, applied to each of the 11 tubes, to give the frame greater rigidity. The GENIUS (1991) 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.

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. Megatube has become a must and is now one of the strong points of the Milanese company, with more than 25 different shapes. In 1985, 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), 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 Bartali who were the first to use the Colombo tubes, passing through Merckx, Gimondi, Hinault, Lemond, Argentin, Fondriest, Chiappucci, Roche, Rominger, Pantani, Chioccioli, Armstrong, Rijs, Bartoli, Olano, Tonkov, Brochard, Zuelle, Virenque, Freire and Savoldelli. NEMO emerged in 1996 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. 1999 Columbus introduces THERMACROM the most innovative cycling purposed steel: It gives incredible lightness and the most durable, high performance mechanical characteristics. Year 2000, STARSHIP: a 6000 series aerospatial HT light aluminum alloy that will allow the lightest frames ever made together with the highest mechanical characteristics. Year 2001, Starship sets itself at the top becoming the reference point for any superlight, superstiff road racing or mtb frame. Year 2002, Columbus launches XLR8R a new 7000 alloy. As good as Starship, XLR8R introduces the concept of Multi Shape Damping Effect.Year 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.


Columbus

  • GRUPPO S.P.A
  • DIVISIONE COLUMBUS
  • VIA G. DI VITTORIO, 21 - 20090
  • CALEPPIO DI SETTALA (MI)



External Links

Official Website


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