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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
These were available for (3) years 95 / 96 / 97. I have had a 97 and presently I own a 95. Can anyone articulate the differences between the three years if any? I know the drop outs changed in 97.

And perhaps someone could confirm the following... I was told that this tube set was shaped cold-rolled and seamless, making it not only rare at this point in time, but very expensive to produce. One of the reasons Columbus stopped its offering.

Any info is appreciated.
 

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I don't really know the answers to your questions Steve, but I'll tell you what I do know.

The obvious difference between 95 and 96 was that the 95 retained the Tange Ultimate seat tube, enforcing the fitting of a conventional-swing fm. And as you say, they changed the dropouts from 97, possibly because of the breakages suffered with the previous design (fingers crossed all round!) I personally haven't seen any detailed technical specifications earlier than the 97 ones, but if anyone has an owner's handbook from those earlier times they were no doubt in there. [there must be thousands of them out there, and I'm a buyer!] The 97 frame was described as follows:

"Constructed entirely of Columbus Nivacrom Max OR tubing. Tubing wall thickness: Top - .7/.4/.7, Down - .8/.5/.8. The seat tube is custom drawn for Kona by Columbus with a wall thickness of 1.3/.6/.9 Columbus-drawn, oversized seat stays dramatically improve braking performance."

That's fairly explicit - the entire Max tubeset was used (contrast with the later 'True Temper OX' Explosif, on which only two tubes were True Temper, and the rest were generic 4130) Clearly the seat tube shows that wasn't true of the 95 frame, but whether Columbus stays were used in 1995 I couldn't say. The 1996 frame looks just like the 97 aside from the dropouts, but again I have no idea what stays were used.

I can tell you though that the 96 Explosif weighs 40 grammes less than the 1997 (Columbus Cyber) Kilauea on the same scale and on a size-for-size basis. Nothing extraordinary about that, I hear you say - but the Kilauea had lighter top and down tubes than the Explosif, and the same seat tube, so the Explosif must have been a lot lighter elsewhere - essentially the stays. i.e., Cyber is also heat-treated, so the top and down tubes on the Kilauea could also be 7-4-7 and 8-5-8 in gauge, but the Kilauea has 28.6 and 31.8 tubes, whereas the Max tubes were 31.8 and 34.9 (both bi-ovalised obviously). I estimate that this would add c50 grammes, giving a stiffer front triangle on the Explosif. And if this means that the Explosif was c90 grammes lighter elsewhere, it implies more compliance elsewhere. My assumption is that the Explosif was seen as the ultimate steel xc racer, the Kilauea less so. Your weight for the 95 Explosif frame, albeit on a different scale is closely in line with mine for the 96, so my assumption is that while there were changes in spec, they didn't make a lot of difference.

As you say, the bi-ovalising made Max expensive. I understand it first came on the market in 1988, but I don't know anything about its subsequent development during its production run. i take it that OR was the mtb version of it. As things go, I imagine it was fearfully expensive to begin with (as 953 is now). Things need to be cheap to catch Kona's interest, so maybe Max was nearing the end of its shelf life by the mid 90s and they were able to cut a deal. Cynicism aside, Kona were clearly more willing to spend money on the frame in those days, given the contrast I touch on above. I guess in the mid 90s, the frame was everything, whereas by 2002 both the fork and the brakes cost more than the frame, so why spend money on fancy stays?

Here are three pictures of the Max frames in chronological order
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Somehow I knew you would answer this post, lol. Thanks for your excellent explanation. And yes OR (off road) was the MTB version of this tube set. Of which by the way, I have just secured a original Columbus MAX OR decal for my respray. Hard to find these things.

I am presently pleased to own a 95 because of that extra bit of seat tube goodness, but the breakage you mention at the rear stays has me nervous. How many examples of this failure do you know of? And where exactly does it occur?
 

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top_ring said:
Somehow I knew you would answer this post, lol. Thanks for your excellent explanation. And yes OR (off road) was the MTB version of this tube set. Of which by the way, I have just secured a original Columbus MAX OR decal for my respray. Hard to find these things.
I'm very jealous about the decal. As you can see from the middle picture, I lack one for my frame. With a high-res picture of the flat decal, I could have some copies made, he begged.

top_ring said:
I am presently pleased to own a 95 because of that extra bit of seat tube goodness, but the breakage you mention at the rear stays has me nervous. How many examples of this failure do you know of? And where exactly does it occur?
I just heard it said that the dropout was the only weakness - apparently they used to snap clean through just at the groove where it joins to the drive-side chainstay. I assume it must have been manufacturing faults, because if you have solid steel c5mm thick joined to a tube of c0.7mm gauge, you'd expect the tube to fail first, then the join, then the solid steel. Kona used that dropout from 94 to 96 - my 94 Kilauea has an almost identical dropout, except the one on the 96 Explosif has Kona stamped on it.

But as to frequency, if you were running the Kona warranty department and you had say 5% failures on a part, you would get the part changed, because warranting 5% of your frames is an unacceptable cost. But that would still leave the other 95% of frames perfectly ok. Well that's what I'm telling myself anyway, but I admit that 5% is just a 'for example'.
 

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Just out of interest (and I admit this is getting into fine detail now), here are two Max Explosifs that are in the UK and are slightly different from standard. As you can see, they have 96 decals, but they aren't the standard 96 colour, more like the 95 but not quite the same. One story is that one of them was bought late in 95 and was considered a 95/6 interim model.

The photo of the seat tube decal makes it clear that the 95 stays were not made of Columbus Max, as that is the decal that appeared on the 95 Explosif (see pic of red frame below). But a different decal appeared on the 96 bike.

And just to complete the set, most of the 1996 Kona range came out in different colours part way through the season and the yellow bike below is the colour that was sold in Spain in 1996, and possibly elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
anthonyinhove said:
The photo of the seat tube decal makes it clear that the 95 stays were not made of Columbus Max, as that is the decal that appeared on the 95 Explosif (see pic of red frame below). But a different decal appeared on the 96 bike.
That's interesting. I will have to research this info. My frame was purchased without a tube set decal, and being a 95 I have no way of knowing if the stays are Columbus. My 97 certainly had the standard Columbus MAX OR rectangle decal on the seat tube (like the yellow 96).

But here's the thing... the drop outs for the 95 and 96 models are the same. Why would Kona change the stays from DB to Columbus on any of the Columbus built Explosifs? If I hazard a guess, all the rear stays are DB cromo with the placement of an "authentic Columbus" tube set decal to make the frame more appealing - shall we say. Perhaps Kona felt it wasn't necessary to announce the material of the stays in later years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OK - here's what Kona warranty says about the rear stays... Models prior to 97 had a heavier gauge rear end. The factory stays wound up too flexy and imprecise. When we got our new dropout in 97 that let us run a bigger stay. We spec'd the full tubesets from Columbus and the Reynolds.

So much for guessing. The decal reads correctly for the 95. Odd that the yellow 96 sports the authentic Columbus tubeset decal with DB stays. So only the front triangle was Columbus on the 95 and 96 models.
 

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anthonyinhove said:
Just out of interest (and I admit this is getting into fine detail now), here are two Max Explosifs that are in the UK and are slightly different from standard. As you can see, they have 96 decals, but they aren't the standard 96 colour, more like the 95 but not quite the same. One story is that one of them was bought late in 95 and was considered a 95/6 interim model.

The photo of the seat tube decal makes it clear that the 95 stays were not made of Columbus Max, as that is the decal that appeared on the 95 Explosif (see pic of red frame below). But a different decal appeared on the 96 bike.

And just to complete the set, most of the 1996 Kona range came out in different colours part way through the season and the yellow bike below is the colour that was sold in Spain in 1996, and possibly elsewhere.
I thought that I recognised that close-up of the seat tube decal - that's my Explosif (and my photo, of course):cool: .
To be pedantic, it's on the Isle of Man, not in the UK :)
Oh, and now it's blue - I'm still trying to find another Columbus Max Explosif frame (17" or 18") but without success.
Anyone got one that they would part with ???
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Andy R said:
I'm still trying to find another Columbus Max Explosif frame (17" or 18") but without success. Anyone got one that they would part with ???
I'm finding that the MAX OR tubesets are getting harder to come by. Keep scouring ebay and your local Craigslist, garage sales, etc... There are also classifieds forums online you can search out. Wish I'd never sold my 97.

Columbus MAX OR - kinda like the Holy Grail of Explosif framesets.
 

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top_ring said:
I'm finding that the MAX OR tubesets are getting harder to come by. Keep scouring ebay and your local Craigslist, garage sales, etc... There are also classifieds forums online you can search out. Wish I'd never sold my 97.
Columbus MAX OR - kinda like the Holy Grail of Explosif framesets.
And yet this near-perfect 1997 complete bike size 18 sold last year for 195 Sterling = $300. Mind you, the buyer was quick! He said it needed a new headset.
 

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I bought the green one brand new (96?), That was a sweet ride.

Chainstay busted and they replaced it with a 97. (gold)
I just recently replaced the rock shox with a vintage Project 2 fork.

My Explosif is still my main ride.
No Disc brakes makes winter riding sketchy at times, but I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
burtondogs said:
I bought the green one brand new (96?), That was a sweet ride.

Chainstay busted and they replaced it with a 97. (gold)
I just recently replaced the rock shox with a vintage Project 2 fork.

My Explosif is still my main ride.
No Disc brakes makes winter riding sketchy at times, but I love it.
I'd be interested to know exactly where the stay broke? How about posting a pic of yours?
 

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I only have a camera phone now and the pic was to dark.
I'll try again.
My bike is just like the bike Anthony posted above^^^^.
( not sure if thats a P2 fork though)

Exact frame as your 97 , shown on the stand, except I have [2] top tube dingers.
 

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May I add yet further to the confusion regarding this excellent type with news that the 1997 size 18 example below just sold on UK eBay for £151 = $220, complete bike. But note the blue rear end.......

Seems to me the blue means the rear end has been repaired and the price means the eBay community didn't like the look of it. If it was a warranty repair, it would have been resprayed by the best painters in the UK, so this looks like a cheap repair. But as far as we're concerned in this thread, we'd like to know why exactly why it was repaired, wouldn't we? Well the seller didn't know, and in fact from the location of the blue paint, it could have had a new chainstay, rather than a replacement for a snapped dropout.

The other interesting thing is, if they changed the dropouts for 97 owing to the problems they had in 95 and 96, how comes it that they were still having problems in 1997?
 

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Hi Anthony,

Did you find out whether this frame actually had been repaired, or did someone just spray the chainstays and seatstays blue, for some reason?

After all, people ( I'm including myself here..) paint bikes all sorts of strange colours ;)

I bid up to £110 but, as I only want a frame anyway, I decided not to persue it any further.

Andy.
 

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Andy R said:
Hi Anthony,
Did you find out whether this frame actually had been repaired, or did someone just spray the chainstays and seatstays blue, for some reason?
After all, people ( I'm including myself here..) paint bikes all sorts of strange colours ;)
I bid up to £110 but, as I only want a frame anyway, I decided not to persue it any further.
Andy.
No, I was curious, but having decided not to bid when he confirmed that the blue was paint, I'd have only been wasting his time with another question. He seemed like a genuine kind of bloke, but I guess the price indicates that a whole lot of other people would have bid higher too, if it wasn't for the feature that put you off. There's a 1997 Kilauea on there right now, already more than twice that price. A 97 Kilauea frame weighs one ounce more than a 97 Explosif incidentally!

I think you're being unduly modest there - I don't believe you would have sprayed that blue stuff over the gorgeous orange Kona paint because you thought it would be an improvement!
 
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