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Taken to the Max, 90's Columbus Max Somec with a wild paint job

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Taken to the Max, 90's Columbus Max Somec with a wild paint job

Old 05-22-22, 02:49 AM
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botty kayer
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Taken to the Max, 90's Columbus Max Somec with a wild paint job

Hello, well I am a lucky boy. After years of longing for a wildly painted Somec, they rarely if ever come up for sale here in the UK, I finally found one, and went and collected it yesterday.

And wow, I love rowdy paint jobs and this is amongst the wildest I've ever seen on a bike. It sure looks like a Mario Martini paint job and I hope it is. Frame is tig welded Columbus Max, it has loads of panto C-Record, including panto Campag Delta's.

It has the super heavy and widely pilloried but super pretty, (and that's not said about pedals often) Campag SGR pedals, shiny Campagnolo Atlanta wheels and shifting is 8 speed 1st Gen Record ergo, which is from about 92/93, which is the approx age I think the frame is from.

I've never owned 8 speed, but it feels great and is super crisp and fast shifting. I've only ever read about Campag Delta's and though they look lovely, and actually perform way better than I was expecting having only ever read about them, they are apparently super annoying and fiddly to set up, and I've heard of them needing totally irregular and rare 3.5mm allen keys to adjust them, so there is a steep learning curve for me with them.

This is how I rode it home yesterday. The whole package could be a dictionary definition of flamboyant Italian cycling design. I am definitely going to immediately change the bar tape and saddle to black bar tape and black Cinelli Volare saddle, I'm going to change those handlebars to some regular bend Merckx shape 3T bars, and going to try and get some wider tyres under those Delta's, 25's I'm sure can work, anyone know if anyone has managed to squeeze 28c tyres under Delta's?. I've heard they have a notch in so they can be moved up to allow for greater clearances, another part of that steep learning curve. But that's about all I plan to change...oh yes also plan to change the rear cassette to give me more than the 21 teeth up to about at least a 25/26.

The SGR pedals look amazing and as I was given a set of cleats for them I'm going to try them out for a while and see, but if they turn out to be as bad as all the reports say, I'll put them to one side and replace them with some Look Delta's that I usually use, and which Campag eventually just simply copied themselves are realising their offering was way over complicated and dumb heavy in comparison.

What is truly remarkable about the frame apart from the obviously wild paint, is the condition of the frame, it is amazing for a 30 year old frame. The guy I got it from has had it 4 years and says he's only ridden it at 1 event in that time, and whoever had it before him had obviously barely ridden it either. The only mark on it I can see is a tiny scratch across the horse in the logo on the top tube, and its a tiny scratch and has not even gone though the paint to the chrome, and that is it, its in amazing condition.

The previous owner got the bike from Germany, and says he was told it was possibly a show bike used by Somec, or a shop or demo bike, but was clear to say he had no proof and was doubtful of this himself and it could just be a cycling fairy tale.
Strangely there are no tulip cut outs in the bottom bracket shell, just a plain circular hole which actually seems remarkably plain considering everything else about this bike is about showing off their craftsmanship and artistry. The bottom bracket is stamped with L and 443, so I guess L for large, its a 61cm frame, and maybe the 44th frame of 1993?

Having read often on here how good Somec are replying to questions about their old bikes, I'm going to email Lara at Somec to confirm the year it was made, if it is a Mario Martini paint job, and any other info about the frame, so I'll report back any extra info she is able to provide, and I'd welcome any info about this bike and model from the bikeforums hive mind.

OK so enough of the chat, show them the shiny....


...different paint scheme on the other side of the fork....








It's over the top in every way and I love it.

Last edited by botty kayer; 05-22-22 at 03:50 AM.
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Old 05-22-22, 03:33 AM
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It is lovely and loud! Columbus Max is my all-time favourite tubeset. I had two custom made for me back in the day (late 90's) and both had lugged BB shells.
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Old 05-22-22, 03:53 AM
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Iím wondering with the black saddle and bar tape if non-gumwall tyres would look better? Or maybe the Michelins arenít doing it for me.

Apart from that; amazing bike, Somec MAX would be in my top 5 for sure.

Is it a Promax or not sure yet?
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Old 05-22-22, 03:54 AM
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I agree, I love Max too, and as I weigh 90kg its just perfect for me.

I've now got 2 full Max frame, an MX Leader which is part Max, a ti frame with a Max fork, and a SLX frame with a Max fork
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Old 05-22-22, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Iím wondering with the black saddle and bar tape if non-gumwall tyres would look better? Or maybe the Michelins arenít doing it for me.

Apart from that; amazing bike, Somec MAX would be in my top 5 for sure.

Is it a Promax or not sure yet?
Thanks P!N20 yes those tyres are definitely going, I'm probably going with plain black, or maybe the dark tan of the Conti GP5000 as I really like them and they look good on my pink Tomassini.

And I don't really know what the difference is between the Promanx Somecs and just the Max Somecs,so hoping Lara can help with that. And yes this is pretty much my holy grail bike so I'm obviously delighted.
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Old 05-22-22, 04:32 AM
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It is a nice bike. The paint job is ??? Mystifying?
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Old 05-22-22, 04:58 AM
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Electrifying!
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Old 05-22-22, 05:30 AM
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Having a flick through the Somec catalogues, the only model using MAX was the Pro Max. There was a Pro Max CZ, but it has an Air fork and the funky Somec seat stay detail at the seat tube.

I reckon yours is the Pro Max in the 1992 catalogue: https://web.archive.org/web/20200921...somec_1992.pdf

(See page 5, pity the scan is so lo-res)

I use those 1st gen Ergo shifters and they have never let me down...after I put some new g-springs in.

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Old 05-22-22, 06:41 AM
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Sweet find! Been tempted by several Somec's myself.
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Old 05-22-22, 06:51 AM
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Astounding bike. Beautifully Somec-level-graphics crazy.
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Old 05-22-22, 07:05 AM
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It’s indescribably beautiful….. it reminds me of the Fourth of July





Seriously that is a beautiful bike and paint would be the envy of many hot rodders
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Old 05-22-22, 07:56 AM
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Holy crap, that is amazing!! I would stick with vibrant colored bar wrap and seat but that is my questionable aesthetic. Enjoy!
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Old 05-22-22, 10:49 AM
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That is nuts, never seen so many panto'd parts before. And the paint makes mine look truly understated.
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Old 05-22-22, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by VtwinVince View Post
That is nuts, never seen so many panto'd parts before. And the paint makes mine look truly understated.
At least you have chrome and fade paint!!! All joking aside I've always loved the rich color of this, alleged, Dupont Imron paint.

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Old 05-22-22, 04:43 PM
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Someone posted this beautiful MiniMAX over in the FB Steel is Real group


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Old 05-25-22, 03:22 PM
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A few new bits arrived this week, Fizik Microtex Classic 2mm bar tape and a 3.5mm allen key for the Delta brakes,

I've got some chrome bar ends on the way, as is a 12-25 cassette.

I've not done any tinkering with the brakes yet as I am also waiting for some new brake pads. Any marginal gains in braking performance I can get for the Delta's I'll take, and I was surprised to discover that Koolstop do a pad for Campag Delta brakes, so they should arrive before the weekend.

The other hold up on sorting the cockpit is I've not been able to find any 3t Merckx bend 26.0 diameter, 42cm wide bars. The only ones I can see are NOS in Italy, and at around £90, before import duties that's a bit ouch for a alu bar.. And stuff from Italy takes ages, a cap I ordered about 3 weeks ago only just arrived, and a Tommasini jersey I ordered over 2 weeks ago has not arrived yet. I don't think I've got the patience to wait that long.....

I do really like those bars, and have them on a few bikes, but I've only ever paid £25-50 for some decent 2nd hand ones before, but that was pre Covid and pre Brexit so maybe I have to accept those days are gone forever. I may end up taking one from one of my other bikes if I can't find any soon, but that would be a bit annoying as those bikes are roadworthy and ready to go, so having to undo the tape, disconnect all the nicely set up gears and brakes is a bit of a faff and leaves that bike out of action. So sorting the bar situation is my main priority right now.

There's also been some developments in the fancy wheel department, for Sunday best I've got a pair of Campag Shamals with an 8 speed freehub, that buffed up nicely with a bit of White Lightening polish. These are the tubular version and come with some new and unused Vittoria Open Pave tubs in 25c. A very sexy wheelset and the deep rims should look good with the frames oversized Max tubes and pink accents matching the pink on the frame.


I'm a bit nervous riding tubs around London's broken glass strewn streets, so today I just been to pick up a shiny pair of retro clinchers for more 'everyday' riding. I saw these advertised on another forum but available for collection in London, so a 10 mile round trip after work and I've now got some wheels as cosmic as the frame, which as the frame has stars on definitely seems appropriate. A pair of great condition and recently serviced first generation Mavic Cosmic's



Handlebars, black Cinelli Volare saddle and some clincher tyres are all I need to get now. Coming together nicely
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Old 06-12-22, 11:11 AM
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Some progress on this. I managed to find some 3T Competzione bars with more traditional bend than the 3t Anatomic ones the bike came with. I've replaced the Atlanta's with the Shamal's which have Vittoria Open Pave tubs, replaced the Campag brake pads with Kool Stop versions that definitely improve braking performance. I've replaced the bar tape and saddle with black versions, added bottle cage and have rewired the brakes as they were set up the continental way. Here in the UK we use the right brake lever for the front brake and left lever is the rear, so I had to change those back to UK style, I'm too old to be unlearning the habit of a lifetime with that. Finally I waxed the frame with Simoniz wax and went at anything chrome and shiny with some White Lightening polish and its buffed up rather nicely.







Despite my initial conviction with the black tape and saddle, I'm already wavering. The Shamal's are going to be replaced long term with the Mavic Cosmic clinchers. I'm meeting someone from another forum in the next week or so to swap the Shimano freehub to a Campag one, so hope to have them up and running for next weekend. The Campag SGR pedals are things of beauty but all my other roadies have Look Delta pedals and cleats, so in the interest of simplicity I'm probably going to change the pedals to some Look's. And looking at eBay I should be able to get good money for the SGR's as they are mint and very pretty.

The Cosmic's have yellow decals that match the Somec frame decals and all the panto, so the other option I'm considering is changing the black tape to yellow, using the half yellow and half black saddle and either yellow pedals or some other combo of Look's I've got in my part bin.

And I've just bought these which should arrive next week, so they are an option too.

What think ye oh folk of C&V?

Am I Mad? Is that incredibly rowdy frame and panto parts doing enough shouting from the rooftops?

Shall I stick with the black tape and saddle and add the last black pedals with yellow adjuster above, or follow the yellow brick road, or rather the yellow path?
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Old 06-12-22, 11:19 AM
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The other good news is the 25c tyres easliy fit under the Delta's, and I'm confident some 28's will too, so the Cosmic's are probably going to be fitted with some all black 28c Veloflex clinchers.
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Old 06-12-22, 11:33 AM
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Itís looking fabulous!

For me, the biggest challenge would be finding bar wrap, seat, etc to match/compliment the paint. Solid colors wouldnít be adequate but thatís just my 2 farthings.
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Old 06-12-22, 04:10 PM
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That is an amazing looking bike, I love all the pantographing.
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Old 06-12-22, 05:57 PM
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Wow! Fabulous paint.
I like it with the black tape and saddle, lets the paint and pantographs do the shouting.
The original saddle and tape distracted from the paint and its subtle details.
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Old 06-12-22, 09:25 PM
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Did you ever find out if Martini ďvarnishedĒ it? Looks like either Martini or Donessa Carlo.
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Old 06-13-22, 04:31 AM
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Some subtle complements in yellow might be good. Like those pedals with a small piece of yellow. A two-tone bartape in yellow/black might be nice. That half-yellow saddle might already be too much Indeed, let the frame do the shouting.
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Old 06-22-22, 03:47 AM
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Hey botty kayer , just wondering if you got any more information on this from Somec?
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Old 06-27-22, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bamboobike4 View Post
Did you ever find out if Martini “varnished” it? Looks like either Martini or Donessa Carlo.
Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Hey botty kayer , just wondering if you got any more information on this from Somec?
Sorry for the delay folks, user error in that I managed to send my first email to the wrong address, and only rectified that last week. After a few emails from Lara at Somec I did get some info, but unfortunately less than I'd hoped for.

Lara said they no longer have detailed records of the past, so there is no info on who the frame was sold to, and where in the world they were, or if it was sold to a shop or an individual. But she did confirm it is a Mario Martini paint job, yay!

As for the date they could not be exact, but it turns out to be older than I thought. Lara directed me in the first instance to take a pic of the Somec decal on the downtube

She asked me to look our for any writing indicating 'world champion'. I can see the Tulip on the left is surrounded by the Italian flag, and the tulip at the other end of the decal has the world champs colours, but I couldn't see any writing....but then my middle aged eyes are in need of some glasses, but thankfully modern phones have a zoom *enhance*

Ah ha, there it is, written just in the C of Somec. Lara says this means the frame is from 88/89, or possibly early 90 at the latest, so a few years earlier than I thought.

I've been wondering since and have not thought to email Somec about it directly yet, but it does beg the question, who was a World Champ riding a Somec in 88/89?

I was not aware they sponsored any pro riders back in the day. Maurizio Fondriest won the mens cycling Worlds in 88, but google says he was riding a Legnano. I'm no scholar of cycling history nor an expert at googling, but I can't find any reference to any Somec world champions in 88/89 for men or women, and I'm not sure what other disciplines like Track, MTB, cyclo cross or BMX or other events were covered back then, but I can't find anything. Anyone have any ideas?

Anyway that is all I've been able to find out about the bikes history. Back to the here and now, yesterday I finally managed to meet up and swap my Shimano freehub on the Mavic Cosmic's with someone else who had an exact same set of Cosmics with a Campag freehub, so that worked out perfectly as they do not seem readily available. We also swapped a cassette each, so I now have a 12-25 cassette, and am now rolling around on clinchers, and the good news continues as Campag Delta's were somewhat future proofed in that they can accommodate 28c tyres, which is a nice surprise.


So I've borrowed pair of just scrubbed in black Veloflex Corsa Evo's in 28c from one of my other bikes, and I've changed over the pedals to the black NOS Look Delta's to match most of my cycling shoes. And I've added 2 silver bottle cages so it currently looks like this....


I'm going to scratch the itch I have this weekend and change the tape, pedals and saddle to yellow versions to see what that looks like, but I wouldn't be surprised if I go straight back to black.

But minor cosmetics aside it's done, and most importantly it rides great, it has that rock solid Max feel and steering yet offers some cushioning to London's mostly rubbish roads. And I am getting a lot of looks and comments, it is not my buff legs or toned buttocks, but this thing stopping traffic. My dream bike lives up to my expectations so I'm well happy.

Last edited by botty kayer; 06-27-22 at 02:00 PM.
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