Normally, this type of advancement, specialization, and constant change would be a huge dilemma for a small manufacturer like Paul Components, but Paul plays by a different set of rules. Instead of trying to chase the newest, lightest and best, Paul is a late adopter, letting trends play out first, then evaluating whether or not the time and money investment is worthwhile. Unlike bigger brands, Paul has very limited financial resources. One wrong move can be devastating to his small enterprise. Therefore, Paul’s focus continues to be on durability and functionality with an American-made design aesthetic that simply cannot be duplicated or outsourced.
Anyone who has ever owned something from Paul knows what I’m talking about. And this focus is the reason why he’s one of the last American-made component manufacturers in the game.
Because of the remarkable leaps in mountain bike capability over the last 10 years, there are thousands of old handmade steel 26” mountain bikes collecting dust in the rafters. These bikes still have many years of life left in them, and the beauty of Paul is that he’s helping keep these bikes on the trail by continuing to offer a variety of cantilever brakes, including the Motolite, a direct pull cantilever brake design that’s still selling today even after 20 years.
Although cable pull disc brakes have been around for a decade, it was only recently that Paul introduced the Klamper, a cable pull caliper that went through three years of design and 20 different prototypes. And in classic Paul fashion, the Klamper is simple; a ball bearing ramp system that can be completely disassembled and serviced. I had an opportunity to ride a set of Klampers on some rocky, technical singletrack trails in Bidwell Park, Paul’s backyard bike playground in Chico, California. Unlike cable-operated Avids or TRPs, the Klampers had nearly as much modulation and smooth lever action as a set of hydraulic brakes. Based purely on the lever action and modulation, I would have guessed the Klampers were hydraulic.
Some want to criticize the Klamper because it is a single pull design, but after extensive testing, Paul discovered that a single pull caliper designed correctly can outperform a dual pull caliper like the TRP Spyre. And after riding both, I can confirm that Paul’s single-pull design works great. Like every other Paul product, the Klamper works because of Paul’s meticulous attention to detail. Paul’s products aren’t rushed to market; they’re refined until they’re as functional and beautiful as they can possibly be.
Now operating out of an old Texaco warehouse on the south side of Chico, right next to an old railroad that’s been turned into a bike path, Paul Component Engineering has come a long way from its early days of running a full-blown machine shop out of a tiny garage attached to Paul’s house. Paul’s story is one of persistence and survival through balancing the old with the new, and sticking to what one knows best. In an age where nearly everything is manufactured overseas, it’s good to see there’s at least one guy prospering in the bike industry by making his own stuff with local skilled labor.