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Merckx Corsa Extra MAX and MX Leader timeline.

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Merckx Corsa Extra MAX and MX Leader timeline.

Old 01-24-19, 07:10 PM
  #1  
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Merckx Corsa Extra MAX and MX Leader timeline.

Merckx Corsa Extra MAX and MX Leader timeline.

Thru studying frames and forks, collecting their serial numbers, I have made this probable timeline. I have only taken into count frames that, to a high degree of certainty, are not repainted.

Merckx serial numbers during these years consist of a capital letter and then a serial number. The letters has been connected to approximate year of production by Eddy Merckx Serial Numbers as this:
Z 1985
A 1986-7
B 1988-9
C 1990-1
D 1992-3
E - as in "E"dit - as there are no E-serials found.
F 1994-5
Years are to be concidered approximate.

It is and has to be approximate as there are no five digit numbers. I have never seen one. My theory therefore being that they turned to a new letter prefix when reaching 9999 (in contrary to what is put forth at the above mentioned site – that the prefix letters might have something to do with which Merckx catalog that was current). Hence not calendar correct by letters but by reaching 9999 and then starting over with a new letter – whatever time of year it was. The serial numbers do not follow the model of frame but are for all models in a common sequence – a Corsa Extra MAX frame can have the serial C1234 and the next following number can be a Corsa in SLX tubing. However one can reckon on they made a certain model of frame in batches and stamped them as they finished them.

My findings are:

Merckx Corsa Extra, MAX tubing
Early C series
Full MAX frame with seatstays brazed on sides of seatlug, MAX fork crown.
The lowest serial I have found is C19XX and the highest C40XX.

Pic stolen from net


My own Corsa Extra MAX


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Merckx Corsa Extra, MAX tubing
Late C series.
Full MAX frame with seatstays fastback style, MAX fork crown.
Lowest serial I have found is C71XX and highest is C95XX

Stolen pics



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Merckx Corsa Extra, MAX tubing with Merckx fork crown
There also seems to be a possibility of a late C or early D series full MAX frame with seat stays fastback style and/but with a Merckx fork crown. I have several pictures of bikes with MAX frames with Merckx fork crowns but I have not got hold of their serials. There might be an overlap period when they built them this way or the forks may have been substituted afterwards for some reason.

Stolen pics



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Merckx MX Leader, MXL tubing A/:
Early D series
MXL frame without seatstay caps – seatstays brazed on sides of seatlug. Still early non branded BB shell

Merckx MX Leader, MXL tubing B/:
Early D series
MXL frame without seatstay caps – seatstays brazed on sides of seatlug. Merckx branded BB shell

Lowest serial I have found for this version without seat stay caps (A and B together) is D30XX and highest serial D5095 (high serial updated as provided by CMAW in post 11 below).

Difference within the early D serial Merckx MX Leader timeline. Looking at serial D30XX I noticed it has the old type bottom bracket shell. Comparing it to my own D4683 clearly shows that sometime between those serials they changed to Merckx own branded BB shell. This divides the early D serial MX Leaders, with no seat stay caps, into two - A/ with MAX BB shell and B/ Merckx branded BB shell. Pic limitations make it impossible for me to show the picture here - look at post 14 further below in the thread.

Stolen pic


My own frame


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Merckx MX Leader
Late D (and E, F) series (there is no E series)
MXL frame with EM seatstay caps.

My own (D7366)



If you have got a Merckx MAX or MXL frame with a serial that would narrow things down in this timeline – please let me know (especially when it comes to the Corsa Extra MAX frames with fast back stays and the Merckx fork crown). The only thing I would like to stress is that it has to be in its original paint or have a known history – to avoid serials where frame components or forks might have been changed at for instance a repair.

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Old 01-24-19, 07:46 PM
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They made them without a fork crown?
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Old 01-24-19, 08:00 PM
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(Are you trying to be funny or are you asking for real?)
I believe I have written "MAX fork crown" which means they used the only fork crown there were for MAX fork leg tubes in the beginning. It has internal stubs on which the tubing is slid on and then brazed. As opposed to the Merckx fork crown that works as a "lug".
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Old 01-25-19, 07:56 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by styggno1 View Post
(Are you trying to be funny or are you asking for real?)

I believe I have written "MAX fork crown" which means they used the only fork crown there were for MAX fork leg tubes in the beginning. It has internal stubs on which the tubing is slid on and then brazed. As opposed to the Merckx fork crown that works as a "lug".
Actually serious. I don't think I ever saw or noticed a Merckxx w/o the traditional style crown until this thread. I actually think, probably out of tradition, most companies adopted the external crown.
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Old 01-25-19, 08:08 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Actually serious. I don't think I ever saw or noticed a Merckxx w/o the traditional style crown until this thread. I actually think, probably out of tradition, most companies adopted the external crown.
I see - and I hope you were not offended. I thought you, with your experience of Bianchi Proto: s and such, were pulling my leg a bit. I believe the crown type of the Proto: s and the above early Merckx: s actually was the only choice for builders the first years of MAX. Then later there came alternatives.
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Old 01-25-19, 08:42 AM
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None taken. Since the Nivachome was intended to be fillet brazed I don't believe Columbus ever made lugs and they were all made by others, but I could be wrong. I have three internal forks and a Unicrown, but that may not actually be MAX
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Old 01-26-19, 03:59 AM
  #7  
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I have one of those MAX frames (ferrari red like your Corsa extra), serial C 3922. Fits your timeline nicely. Does the "L" engraved in the other side of the BB have any specific meaning? Any idea how many frames of this type were made?

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Old 01-26-19, 09:07 AM
  #8  
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This is a very cool thread. Very informative. Keep them coming! And or sell me a Max Corsa with fastback stays!
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Old 01-27-19, 05:53 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
None taken. Since the Nivachome was intended to be fillet brazed I don't believe Columbus ever made lugs and they were all made by others, but I could be wrong. I have three internal forks and a Unicrown, but that may not actually be MAX

You got me thinking and I had a look around. If looking at other tubing that Columbus made and that were "oddly" shaped - as for instance Columbus Air and Columbus MS - they sort of had to supply lugs to get builders to use it. And they did. There are plenty of pictures on the net showing Air/MS lugs together with the Columbus cardboard box they came in. When it comes to MAX however there are not, and as you say, TIG welding was an easier option (and fillet brazing had always been around) - and probably a prefered one. The fork is a part, though, not traditionally welded (in this time frame) but most often built using a cast crown. I would presume Columbus had to make sure there was a fork crown fitting the MAX fork blades when they released the tube set. Did they make it themselves or did they farm it out - that is another story. A story that would be interesting to look into.

Looking around I have not found any verifiable info for MAX lugs being made by Columbus.

Velobase has the MAX lugs under Columbus though:
VeloBase.com - Frame Parts List
Velobase, a nice source for information, however it is not known to be correct in all cases.

There are also quite some numbers of advertising saying Columbus lugs but they are not facts for sure either. They are advertising...
Here is an example ad claiming Columbus components:



And here an even more interesting from Merckx - claiming Merckx actually designed the parts. Picture showing the exact same lugs, BB and fork crown as every one else used. It might be true but again it is advertising...



I will put some effort, from time to time, into investigating this further. It would be nice to know.

Last edited by styggno1; 01-27-19 at 06:47 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 01-27-19, 05:57 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by CMAW View Post
I have one of those MAX frames (ferrari red like your Corsa extra), serial C 3922. Fits your timeline nicely. Does the "L" engraved in the other side of the BB have any specific meaning? Any idea how many frames of this type were made?
Sorry - the other side stampings I have not looked into.

The MAX frames were top of the line and probably not selling by several hundreds a year. How many - my guestimate is as good as anyone elses. Looking at the net there are not many around. There are of course a lot of bikes that are not on the net...
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Old 01-27-19, 06:12 AM
  #11  
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I forget to mention that I have a classic MXL frame as well and this one seems to expand your timeline a bit: D5095

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Old 01-27-19, 06:38 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by CMAW View Post
I forget to mention that I have a classic MXL frame as well and this one seems to expand your timeline a bit: D5095
Thank you sir! Updated my first post accordingly.
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Old 01-27-19, 08:46 AM
  #13  
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@CMAW
About your "L" marking on the other side of the BB shell - these are really difficult to see any pattern in.
Looking at
Eddy Merckx Serial Numbers
together with my own findings - it is all over the place. As soon as I believe I have found a pattern there is some frame that mess it up.

One could think in line of some of these:
Model
Geometry
Build batch
Builder or team of builders
Etc.
But however/wherever I look at it there are inconsistencies.

Here is my own Motorola D serial that has an "L". It would be easy to think it denotes a "L"eader - but no. There are SLX bikes, etc., with an L and I have MX Leaders with "P" and "H".

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Old 01-27-19, 09:57 AM
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EDIT and sort of an important update

Just noticed a significant difference within the early D serial Merckx MX Leader timeline. Looking at serial D30XX I noticed it has the old type bottom bracket shell. Comparing it to my own D4683 clearly shows that sometime between those serials they changed to Merckx own branded BB shell. This divides the early D serial MX Leaders, with no seat stay caps, into two - A/ with MAX BB shell and B/ Merckx branded BB shell.

Since there is a limit of number of pictures I cannot update my first post with the picture below.



If anyone wonders why I sometimes do not show the whole serial - it is because the pictures are found on the net and I do not know if the owner wants the serial to be shown here. If they are presented it is because it is my own bike or if the owner has given consent.

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Old 04-13-19, 09:25 PM
  #15  
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Great thread, @styggno1.

I have 2 EM MX-Leaders, the first an early '93 Motorola https://www.millfieldvelo.com.au/mus...team-motorola/ serial 2499-D. I do not know what the production code on the LHS is - I did not want to remove the original paint to discover the stampings. It has the EM-branded BB shell, with an English BB thread. I believe this denotes it as a frame built for the US market.

The second frame is a '98, now repainted as a Molteni https://www.millfieldvelo.com.au/showroom/superlight/ serial 9297-G. I bought it without forks, in the pro livery for which (I presume) it was made; this was Guillaume Cycles, in Le Mans France. The frame has a rare 50mm seat-tube extension to prevent seatpost flex/breakage.

You're quite right when you say "My theory therefore being that they turned to a new letter prefix when reaching 9999 (in contrary to what is put forth at the above mentioned site – that the prefix letters might have something to do with which Merckx catalog that was current). Hence not calendar correct by letters but by reaching 9999 and then starting over with a new letter – whatever time of year it was.".

Cadre.net has the LHS stampings partially incorrect; the letter can sometimes refer to a tubing set, but often denotes a production code that managed quality control. In this respect one can have a single code (eg 'M') applied across different years and models. Therefore you are also correct with:
"About your "L" marking on the other side of the BB shell - these are really difficult to see any pattern in.
Looking at Eddy Merckx Serial Numbers together with my own findings - it is all over the place. As soon as I believe I have found a pattern there is some frame that mess it up.
One could think in line of some of these:
Model
Geometry
Build batch
Builder or team of builders
Etc.
But however/wherever I look at it there are inconsistencies.
".

Keep up the excellent work, this is quite valuable to EM owners and collectors like myself. I will follow this thread with great interest!
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Old 04-29-19, 01:05 PM
  #16  
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Hi! very interesting story, sensational remarks - so far all MAX were identical for me (because I was staring only at the tubes, not at the details - shame), similarly later MX-L ... It looks like we're dealing with classic evolution, where the decisive factor separating the old MAX (C1920-C9999) from the new MX-L (the oldest I found is D875) is the top tube from the Columbus Minimax set and the new seat tube lug fitted to it. Letter marking on the left side BB cover is two separate marking systems: 1) tube type (R = Reynolds 531, X = SLX, M = Cromor, TT = TSX) or frame model (C = Corsa, CX = Criterium) - note: most types / models did not have any markings (Columbus SL, Reynolds 501, 753, 653, Max, Arcobaleno) and 2) the code of the employee responsible for the final preparation of the frame before chromating / painting (at the beginning of A, G, B, F later A, P, M, then A, T, Y, D ... etc - L belongs to this series). Interesting fact: the E-series from the 94/95 years does not exist - remember when you saw such a frame ... it perfectly destroys dating of EM frames in the 90s; similarly, the Professional model never existed ... only Eddy Merckx (when you want to produce only one model you do not have to name it). Thank you again, now I will describe more precisely EM Max and Mx-l in my secret registers Best Regards - Jacek
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Old 04-29-19, 01:48 PM
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I just noticed the questions on Columbus Max were from January, but since I put together these links about Max I thought I'd share them. Max was originally designed for lugs and the lugs added a lot of weight. The second Hampsten link has its own link to a Dave Kirk article about Max, but Kirk's blog post is no longer available. I've read Kirk's post before (I had trouble finding it today) and he says dropping the lugs and Max lugged bottom bracket saves you up to 3/4 of a pound! The bottom bracket was really heavy. Columbus no longer makes the lugs and the reintroduced Max tubing has shorter butts than the 80s Max that was designed for lugged frames.

Anvil on Max
Hampsten Max bike
Hampsten More on Max

Those Merckx Max frames are classics. Guys like Phil Anderson and Steve Bauer rode them in the Beligan classics too, which adds to the coolness.
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Old 04-29-19, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jonafd17 View Post
I just noticed the questions on Columbus Max were from January, but since I put together these links about Max I thought I'd share them. Max was originally designed for lugs and the lugs added a lot of weight. The second Hampsten link has its own link to a Dave Kirk article about Max, but Kirk's blog post is no longer available. I've read Kirk's post before (I had trouble finding it today) and he says dropping the lugs and Max lugged bottom bracket saves you up to 3/4 of a pound! The bottom bracket was really heavy. Columbus no longer makes the lugs and the reintroduced Max tubing has shorter butts than the 80s Max that was designed for lugged frames.

Anvil on Max
Hampsten Max bike
Hampsten More on Max

Those Merckx Max frames are classics. Guys like Phil Anderson and Steve Bauer rode them in the Beligan classics too, which adds to the coolness.
Thanks for the links! I love Max tubing. Ceeway in England used to sell the original style Columbus Max lugs, and the tubes too of course. I'm a garage framebuilder but Max scares me because it requires a proper frame jig which I lack, and I have no idea how guys hold the tubes for mitering. As a compromise I build frames from round tubes of the same base sizes (excepting for the Max chain stays which are monsters.) Anyway, I can confirm that the ride is excellent and not jarring. I have no idea how Hampsten can build a Max frame as light as they claim because I can't. Mind you I use lugs but still...

Edit: Okay, I'm going to backpedal a little. I just weighed a lug set appropriate for XL OS tubes and it's about 1/4 lbs. My last frame used pretty lightweight tubes and it came in at 3.85 lbs before paint so I can see how it would be possible to hit 3.4 lbs like Hampsten says. He's got to be doing a lot of tubing substitutions away from Max though.

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Old 04-29-19, 08:04 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
I have no idea how Hampsten can build a Max frame as light as they claim because I can't. Mind you I use lugs but still...
Ask Steve.

I sold my MX Leader. Not enough clearance for wider tires.

Plus, somebody wanted it more than I did.

FWIW A Hampsten Strada Bianca can handle 700x32's.

Just contact Hampsten and they can build it just the way you want it.

Pricing is very reasonable for custom.

https://www.hampsten.com/bike/max/

Strada Bianca ? Hampsten Cycles
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Old 04-30-19, 04:58 AM
  #20  
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A lot of max weight is in that fork if I recall, and lugless makes a huge difference as well. MAX has some beef for sure.




I do wonder, if you’re counting grams, is this the right frame? It wasn’t a weight weenie in the 90s!

Great info OP.
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Old 09-21-19, 05:02 AM
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Corsa Extra Max C6192 1991


Corsa Extra Max D1347 1992

Mx-L D875 1992



Corsa Extra Max 1990, catalogue 1991

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Old 10-03-19, 02:22 AM
  #22  
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bonus

Originally Posted by CMAW View Post
I forget to mention that I have a classic MXL frame as well and this one seems to expand your timeline a bit: D5095

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Old 10-03-19, 08:21 AM
  #23  
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Pretty cool, thanks, Cycles Makaron!

Totally unaware of the bike's pedigree, BTW, I found it "deep in the woods" in a village in the Ardennes a few years ago, it came with a mishmash of components and a frozen stem. Seller didn't know much. One day I'll have the frame refinished.

Uwe Raab was apparently one of the rare pros who dropped out of the peloton because they refused to take doping.
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Old 03-29-20, 08:52 PM
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Add me to the list.

C-7056

Corsa Extra Max

Unpainted, truly excited about this frame. Debating on which color..thinking something along lilac. Will post pics once received.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:17 AM
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You probably won't believe it right away, but this frame stands quietly about two meters behind my back... because you bought it from me - the world is small Originally it was red, I bought it in Germany.
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