Last Saturday was the 30th Anniversary party for Paul’s Components in Chico, CA. I rarely leave my lair but this was one event I had to attend. Plus they wanted me to bring a bike with some of Paul’s nice parts on it and I had just the one to bring…
My first personal experience with Paul’s nice parts was when the Moots grassroots MTB team got sponsored by Paul’s and we got some free brakes to race on – the Motolite or their precursor and cantilever’s similar or the same as their Touring Canti’s. You can kind of see them on the below photo of my Moots YBB in 1997. It’s extremely rare that a small US bike company will have persisted the ups and downs of the bike biz for that long. You can likely count on one hand the number of component makers (or framebuilders for that matter) that have been around since 1989. The ones that have disappeared are way more numerous. A good example is on my race bike below — Kooka brake levers, Sweetwings cranks, TNT hubs laced to Sun rims — all gone (Sun-Ringle recently returned).
We were so psyched to have Paul as a sponsor and mount those brakes on our bikes! Then, and still today, Paul’s Components has an aura, they have mojo, they’re just COOL. They conjure up an image of being built by a guy in a small workshop in northern California and that’s exactly how he started. Actually I heard it started in his house with different rooms running different operations – milling machines in closets and such craziness. Since the beginning they’ve innovated new parts and adapted to the constantly changing landscape by adding flair with new anodized colors that are offered at different times to keep them fresh and not overplayed, but still offering the old parts for the retrogrouches.
So when they kindly invited a bunch of local framebuilders (one was me!) to the event to show a personal bike with Paul’s parts on it, i knew i had the perfect bike to bring, ride, and show at the Anniversary party.
Chico is a place i’ve never been but heard a ton about. I remember Bob Seals and the Retrotec team being from Chico and it’s where Sierra Nevada brewing company is located! It’s only 1.5 hours from where i currently live so there is no excuse not to go. I could tell i was kinda the most unknown guy at the morning ride but luckily Cam and Robert were there to help out and introduce me to a few other people along the way. Paul has built frames and still has one up in the rafters at the shop. He respects and supports what framebuilders do and loves weird bikes, elevated chainstays suit his fancy so we’re on a similar wavelength that way.
This bike wasn’t exactly weird but did have sloping sliding dropouts to account for some of the change in BB height when swapping between 29+ and 27.5+ wheelsets. It’s a fun bike with some new bars i bent the previous day, testing out different bends and configurations (always messin with stuff).
The ride left from Paul’s house in town and went up to the end of Bidwell Park’s main fire road (sorry Paul it’s what I call them). A group had set up a picnic at the end of a little spur trail where beers were soaking in the river and some snacks were set out for the crew. I didn’t know many people but I’m glad I got to meet a few. I finally got to meet and talk to Curtis of Retrotec/Inglis cycles. He’s always intimidated me because of his history making Retrotec bikes since 1993 and…well i’m not really sure why after talking to him because he is a funny approachable guy! After an hour or so we headed back and dispersed, ending up at the workshop for the main event. Workshop tours by Paul showed us the inner workings of how they make parts start to finish. He also let us into his private lair complete with a bunch of K&T’s among other american machinery. Ok now for the photos…