About Columbus

Columbus Steel Tubes and Carbon Forks for custom bicycle framebuilding

Columbus

When only the best will do, build with Columbus, innovator and industry leader in bicycle tubing since 1919.

Columbus

In 1919, as Europe emerged from the ashes of the Great War, twenty-seven year old Angelo Luigi ‘A.L.’ Colombo signed the lease on a small factory and began producing steel tubes. Demand for bicycles was running high, and their makers were among his first customers. Soon he was supplying material not only for bicycles, but also for tubular frames of seaplanes and road vehicles, as well as for furniture and ski poles. Italy was at the forefront of aviation in the 1920s, and Colombo enjoyed a strong relationship with Caproni, manufacturing the tubing that formed the backbone of their famous aircraft. In 1927 Colombo became part of aviation history, with De Pinedo and Balbo’s transatlantic planes having air frames constructed from Colombo tubing – the same tubing that was, at that time, used to fabricate race-winning Moto Guzzi motorcycle chassis.

To give increased strength and reduced weight, Colombo began experimenting with ‘butted’ tubes – with variable wall thickness along their length. Three years later, in 1930, Angelo Luigi created the brand name ‘Columbus’, which was initially only associated with tubular chromed-steel furniture, and was the exclusive supplier for production of Marcel Breuer’s iconic furniture designs. Later the Columbus name, along with ‘Aelle’ and ‘Tenax’ was first applied to special sets of bicycle tubes. The Columbus tubes were drawn from Chrome Molybdenum steel with elliptical fork blades (standard characteristics that remain commonplace to this day). Continuing to experiment in the fields of mechanics and metallurgy, Colombo even designed and built their own butting machines to manufacture the tubes with tapering wall thickness – reinforcing the tubes at the joints where stresses are greatest.

Steel tubes for racing car skeletons soon followed, and Colombo’s son, Gilberto, designed chassis for the immortal Italian manufacturers Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari. Some of the tube profiles created at this time found their application onto bicycle frames in the following years. In 1977 ‘Columbus’ was formed, a new company dedicated soley to the development and production of specialist tubes for bicycle frames. Antonio Colombo, youngest son of Angelo Luigi, devoted himself to the new company. Extensive experience gained from cycle, aircraft and automobile testing was the driving force of the business. Among the notable innovations are the taper-gauge elliptical fork blades, the conical helix tube butting, ‘Air’ – the first fully-aerodynamic tube set, and ‘Max’ – offering the advantages of differing oversize tube profiles to bicycle designers and riders.

Today Columbus manufactures 900 different types of tubes, all of controlled origin and guaranteed quality. For record attempts on the track, Columbus have developed super-light tube sets for the greatest champions: Coppi, Anquetil, Baldini, Riviere, Bracke, Ritter, Merckx, Moser, Oersted. The doctrine of intelligent experimentation, technological progress, and sophisticated tests carried out on the road and in the laboratory has earned them a well deserved international reputation as the leading manufacturer of hi-performance oversized steel tube-sets, carbon forks, frames, and components. Columbus continues to develop new materials and designs; new tube sets used by the top riders: from Gimondi to Merckx, Hinault to Argentin, Lemond and Roche.

Henry James is proud to be the largest distributor of Columbus steel tubes and carbon forks to the USA. To build the best bikes, you start with the best parts, and Columbus has been the industry leader, the "Soul of Cycling," since 1919. For any style bike, framebuilders can truly customize the ride of the bicycle to meet the demands of the rider with this exceptional line of bicycle tubing.