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Thread: From MXL to Modern MAX

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    Default From MXL to Modern MAX

    I love MAX tubing, both for its history and actual ride quality. I’ve thought a great deal about transitioning to a modern MAX frameset for a while now. So I hope readers will forgive this long, multi-post rant.

    One of my favourite battle wagons is the much revered Merckx MX Leader. Great ride quality, fantastic history. I rode one for five years and it rode wonderfully, especially on rough surfaces. It was plenty stiff, but even in a small frame size of 52cm, it didn’t beat me up. And of course, I like seeing the historical photos of riders like Anderson, Yates, Bauer, Tchmil and O’Grady (I think his ’98 Stage 14 victory was the last TdF stage win with an MX-L?).

    But as I had discussed this past winter with Christian, there were three things that I didn't like about MX Leader.

    It could barely accept 25mm tires in the rear triangle. As Craig pointed out, a stock MX-L is a road racing bike, so it wasn’t designed to take fat tires. But it handled so well, it would've been fun to install some 27mm tubulars and do more rough stuff riding with it.

    Another frustrating aspect about my MX-Leader was its chromed, horizontal dropouts (note that most MX-L’s that I’ve seen pictured do NOT have chromed dropouts).

    Wheelsets using hubs without a knurled axle locknut surface (Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL) or even a single knurled surface (driveside of an Alchemy rear hub) would slip during a sprint. The wheel would dislodge and the rear tire would rub against the chainstay. No amount of locking down the QR or roughing up the surface of the chromed, horizontal dropouts would alleviate this issue. The only rear hub that would never slip were my wheels built around 2006 Campagnolo Record hubs, which had knurled surfaces on both sides.

    The final aspect about this 20 year old frameset is that it's heavy. Even with modern (albeit all alloy) Campagnolo components and admittedly solid (over 1600 grams) Record/Nemesis wheels, my MX Leader built up to 23 lbs. Reading old Winning magazine articles from the early ‘90’s, 22 to 23 lbs was about the norm for all-steel racing bikes with the first generations of STI/ERGO groups, which were quite heavy compared to today’s versions.

    I wouldn’t have minded the weight so much (I don’t live in the high mountains), if I could’ve installed one of my fast, light, carbon aero wheelsets. When I have a set of those on even a heavy bike, there’s no disadvantage for me when riding with a fast group in flat or rolling hills.

    But as I outlined with problem 2, I could only use my two wheelsets with Record hubs, which were both heavy-duty, bomber, 32h wheelsets. One is Nemesis (over 1600 grams). The other is my remaining clincher wheelset for inner city commuting, with brass nipples and heavier gauge spokes (I think those wheels are over 1800 grams) using cut- resistant commuting tires. Great for their specific uses, but I need all of the help I can get from light, aero wheels when trying to keep up with the faster riders in my club.

    It was time to get a modern MAX frameset. Get room to fit 27mm FMB Roubaix tubulars, vertical dropouts that won’t allow my contemporary hubs slipping, and maybe even save a pound or so.
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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    No one in their right mind commissions a MAX frameset if they’re obsessed with light weight. With that said, I was confident that a modern MAX build could shed at least a pound of weight, compared to my porky MX Leader, yet still retain that fantastic ride quality.

    More importantly, I could finally have a MAX frame that could accept either end of the wheel spectrum: use my sub-1500 grams, aero carbon tubular wheels that really make a difference on fast club rides, and at the other extreme, install 27mm FMB Roubaix’s on my Nemesis wheels and take the bike off-road for some light cross work.

    So, the journey to a modern MAX frameset was initiated last fall, to get a MAX bike that could accept 27mm FMB's when the mood struck, and hopefully shed a pound or two. A few years ago, EddieBirdsell & Riceburner here on VS had recommended Joe of Primus Mootry. My initial commission with Joe was for an aluminum frame back in 2011, and it was a positive experience. So Joe was the obvious choice for a TIG-welded MAX frameset.

    My weight swings between 155 to 165 lbs. I also ride very small frames: 51 or 52cm in traditional, horizontal geometry, with sloping framesets often as small as 47cm. So an all-MAX frameset would be overkill. My old MX Leader rode well for my weight, as Mr. Merckx used lighter SLX seat stays and a less extreme, ovalized EL-OS top tube with a horizontal oval at the head tube to allow a bit of flex.

    Current builders, like Steve Hampsten and Mickey of Spooky have been fine-tuning their MAX bikes for the last few years, substituting skinnier or more beefy seat stays and seat tubes, as required by their custom clients. They also use non-MAX forks, going with high-end carbon or lighter, custom steel.

    For the Primus Mootry Paterberg MAX frame that Joe did for me, we decided upon skinny LIFE tubes for the seat tube (28.6mm) and seat stays (14mm). A 1 & 1/8th head tube was used. TIG welded construction rather than lugs. Paragon vertical dropouts with a replaceable hanger.

    We went for a lighter but still sturdy fork – a flat crown, Everest, which had an extra 10mm side-to-side clearance for tires, brazed to Columbus SL blades, which in turned were sleeved into beefy dropouts.

    Geometry: sloping (because I’m a midget) with a 47cm ST c-t-c, HTA and STA half a degree slacker than my pure road racing aluminum Primus Mootry, 80mm BB drop, and slightly longer chain stays and front-centre. Essentially, stable road geometry. One of the key measurements was raising the bolt location points for the 47mm, short-reach brakes as high as possible. As mentioned, my favourite gravel/moderate dirt trail tubular is the FMB Roubaix 27mm, and they need a lot of room to breathe.

    And of course, vertical dropouts, in this case, from Paragon. So I could use my modern rear hubs without fear of it slipping in chromed, horizontal dropouts.
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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    The initial build in the pics above are a veritable VSalon membership list:

    1997 Record 8sp down tube shifters (converted to 10sp) from tehollandpe
    2006 Record hubs from GrantM
    2004 Time Impact Magnesium pedals from Saab2000
    1998 Chorus brake levers from TMB
    Ambrosio Nemesis wheelbuild from Terry at RT Wheelcraft

    The parts are all alloy Campag of various vintages. The brakes are Dura-Ace 7800. It's handy to have a QR lever at both the caliper and the brake lever. Makes it a lot easier to slip fat, 27mm tubulars in and out of the frameset.

    Saddle is a beat up old Concor that I've owned for nine years. The Ritchey alloy post was something I found in my basement that would fit the frame. 3T stem and bar, with the latter in the old school Rotundo shape.

    So most of these parts were transferred from the final iteration of my MX Leader (the earlier picture of the MX Leader shows an earlier parts mix). As I mentioned, it weighed 23 lbs before I disassembled it to make room for the Primus Mootry Paterberg MAX.

    All parts were transferred over, except for a rusty American Classic post and the re-issued Cinelli 1A stem in 10cm, and re-issued Cinelli 65 Criterium in 42cm. Headset had to be changed too. Total weight dropped from 23lbs to an astonishing 19.5 lbs.
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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    I've had the Paterberg MAX on the road now for three weeks. The best part about it is the sublime ride quality. Joe did a great job again. He managed to retain the stiff, sure handling of my old MX Leader, with a significant drop in weight.

    The bike has already been through the wringer. First ride was into a rain storm, which turned into snow, which turned into hail. Part of the ride was on a wet beach, which threw mud into the seat tube.

    Before I had the front derailleur tuned properly, I managed to derail it while riding off-road and gouged the massive chain stay. I took some car paint retoucher and painted over the exposed steel.

    And this weekend, I was supervising inexperienced riders in our club, when one of them managed to crash into me while I was at a standstill. Drove my replaceable hanger into my cogs. I managed to limp home and will be replacing it with a new hanger. No damage to the frame, as far as I can see.

    But that's the point of owning a bike like this. It's all about riding, and not being too precious about the machine.

    The alloy group was fantastic, but I have an 11sp Record group that I wanted to try. I installed that last week along with my 50mm carbon tubular wheels, while retaining the brake-only levers and 10sp down tube shifters. The group functions even better, it's easier to go faster wtih the aero tubular carbon wheels, and the weight dropped down again, to 17.7 lbs.

    This fall, I'm looking forward to riding this machine with the FMB 27mm Roubaix tubulars in our club's cross evenings.

    With this bike and my Hampsten Strada Bianca, which will always live with its Honjo fenders, I decided I don't need any other bikes. My "fleet" has been reduced from seven bikes, as of five years ago, down to these two.
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    This bike has MAX chainstays and fork blades. IMHO, those were the "signature tubes" for MAX. The remainder of the bike is a mix of Columbus including a 38mm downtube. It rides very similar to my Merckx MXL while being far lighter with a Record/Chorus 11 build and Zonda wheels.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Fixed,

    Really nice. Next time I'm in your 'burgh can I see it??
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Quote Originally Posted by TMB View Post
    Fixed,

    Really nice. Next time I'm in your 'burgh can I see it??
    Of course! Hope you can drop by TO soon. This bike is even nicer now with your brake levers combined with a current Record group.

    Quite a journey from the Tutti Frutti Merckx MX Leader
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    hampsten weight.jpg

    here's my Hampsten Max at just under 18 pounds with everything but pedals. Record Ambrosio wheelset and flite saddle.

    Goes like it's on rails!
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Post some more pictures!! I want to see more of that Hampsten MAX :)

    Quote Originally Posted by danielroper View Post
    hampsten weight.jpg

    here's my Hampsten Max at just under 18 pounds with everything but pedals. Record Ambrosio wheelset and flite saddle.

    Goes like it's on rails!
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    no need to ask twice!

    hampsten side.jpg
     

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    Default

    Got to see Manumai's Hampco Max this weekend, wow.

    Gun metal grey, Campagonolo'ed out (Fulcrum wheels?), big chubby Challenge tires, Ti post. Very classy, and he saw right through my offer to transport it home for him.

    These are some badass bikes.
    Tödd Höllând

    Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring. -- Desmond Tutu

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    I've only had this out on a few rides but I'm loving it and find it more comfortable that I had anticipated. The 25's and shallow rims help. 20.5 lbs with full Campy Athena 11 and Joy Tech hubs, VO rims, and DB spokes.
    The fork ended up pretty light but the BB was a real chunk of steel. The only tube substitution was the double-taper Zona seatstays.

    MAX Bi-lam - a set on Flickr


    -Joel
    Joel Greenblatt

    Website

    Flickr

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Awesome - any pics? Or maybe it's in the Hampco Gallery thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by thollandpe View Post
    Got to see Manumai's Hampco Max this weekend, wow.

    Gun metal grey, Campagonolo'ed out (Fulcrum wheels?), big chubby Challenge tires, Ti post. Very classy, and he saw right through my offer to transport it home for him.

    These are some badass bikes.
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Quote Originally Posted by Clockwork View Post
    I've only had this out on a few rides but I'm loving it and find it more comfortable that I had anticipated. The 25's and shallow rims help. 20.5 lbs with full Campy Athena 11 and Joy Tech hubs, VO rims, and DB spokes.
    The fork ended up pretty light but the BB was a real chunk of steel. The only tube substitution was the double-taper Zona seatstays.

    MAX Bi-lam - a set on Flickr


    -Joel
    That bike is straight up sex on wheels, my friend.
    Pete Ruckelshaus * Teacher, Fat Guy on a Bike * Collegeville, PA

    pruckelshaus' flickr
    Framejig.wordpress.com effort to collect DIY framebuilding jig designs

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    The most beautiful thing about a custom bike is not just what you see, it's what you feel.--www.lighthousecycles.com

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    MAX is sexy times on the bike...


    bike by beswick1, on Flickr


    wint44 by beswick1, on Flickr


    IMG_4257 by beswick1, on Flickr
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    I am the owner of both MAX frames Tim has posted under Lighthousecycles above - and they are beautiful.
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    My newest Zank, and a twist on the old MAX theme. Photos are hot off the press. Will post complete build photos next week.

    Stephen
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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephencl View Post
    My newest Zank, and a twist on the old MAX theme. Photos are hot off the press. Will post complete build photos next week.

    Stephen
    This looks hot. Is that an OOS seatube ?
     

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    Default Re: From MXL to Modern MAX

    Lionel,

    I think technically it is still considered just OS. It has a 31.8 OD, but is internally shimmed to 27.2. If you look close enough, you can see the butt weld joint right under the top tube. This is similar to how Seven and other do.. It is very cool, and very light for a Max tubing frame. Can't wait to build it up, I bet it goes like stink!

    Stephen
     

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