GRADES OF STEEL
Steel tubes may all look the same, but there’s a world of difference beneath the skin
Columbus tubes have been ridden to victory in the Tour de France by such cycling legends as Merckx, Hinault, Coppi, Anquetil and Lemond
is Columbus’s flagship stainless steel tubeset, which emerged in 2009 having initially been developed for military applications. XCR is resistant to heat damage and corrosion while making sub-1,500g framesets easily achievable.
is Columbus’s top non-stainless steel, and sits within the Niobium family of tubes, which is named for the niobium additive used in the alloy. It’s drawn numerous times and heavily butted.
uses the same niobium-infused alloy as Spirit but has less lamination and cold drawing, meaning it isn’t as aggressively butted or as thoroughly refined.
uses Columbus’s proprietary 25Crmo4, a slight modification to the chromoly alloys of years past. It lacks some of the mechanical wonders of Niobium tubesets but is easier to work with, and as a result is often preferred on touring and off-road bikes.
is also made from 25Crmo4, but is welded at a seam rather than being seamless. It’s drawn and butted like the rest, but comes out heavier.
Above: Three of Columbus’s polishing machines, which are used to grind and polish the tubes to offer an extremely smooth exterior before and after drawing and lamination