Paul Price is a quiet man. Not comfortable in the limelight, he prefers a barbeque to a banquet, a backyard to a convention center. And so Paul Camp was created, a way for Price to meet with journalists away from the trade show hordes, to show them where the goods are made and the trails that serve as testing grounds.
In the silence of Price's personal headspace, most easily accessed while riding a bicycle, inspiration arrives in the shape of new bicycle parts, solutions to problems in the cycling hardware world. These thoughts can lead to late nights in Price's personal tinkerer's paradise, a small shop adjacent to the Paul Component Engineering offices and production facility in Chico, California. All are located on an acre lot that previously served as a Texaco petroleum distribution center next to a train track. That railroad bed is now a bike path and instead of storing oil, the plot is now used to manufacture and distribute bicycle parts.
The Klamper is Price's latest product. With three years in development, the brake has excellent action and modulation. A limited run of purple anodized Klampers will be available this summer (click to enlarge).
Founded in Price's garage in 1989, Paul Component Engineering's first product was an internal cam quick release lever. With excellent action and wheel retention, Paul's quick release was a lot lighter than what Campagnolo offered at the time. Since then, the line has expanded to 80 different SKUs when considering color options.
Perhaps best known for his Neo Retro and Touring cantilever brakes, Price recently launched his Klamper mechanical disc brake. Other offerings include brake levers, cranks, shifter mounts, chain guides, a seat post, stem, hubs, and after a production hiatus, Paul's iconic quick releases. No longer in production, Paul Component manufactured a rear derailleur in the early 1990s that now fetches over $1000 on eBay if in good condition.
Price has quite the collection of bicycles and frames, most of them from northern California (click to enlarge).
In the late '90's, for a short period of time, Price also built bicycle frames. For Paul No. 3, he created, to the best of his knowledge, the first 1x chain guide. The bike also used a prototype headset that never went into production. Its oval top tube was from surplus from Mountain Goat, where Price worked before it went out of business. In the end, Price only made about eight frames, quickly realizing that this labor-intensive business was a tough way to earn a living.
Having always dreamed of making bike parts, Price spent his time in high school and college working at bike shops, while also tackling shop classes and then earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Sacramento State University. Not long after college, Price found himself in Chico and never left.
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Test bikes for the camp were minty fresh Surly Stragglers equipped with purple Paul parts, Velocity rims, Brooks saddles, White cranks and hubs and Bruce Gordon tires (click to enlarge).
To show off Paul's collection of components, Price and his crew assembled a fleet of mint-colored Surly Stragglers for media to use at Paul Camp 2016. The drop bar bike uses disc brakes and easily cleared the Bruce Gordon 43mm Rock 'n Road tires installed. Equipped with White Industries hubs, bottom brackets and cranks, Velocity Aileron rims, Brooks saddles, and SRAM cassette, chain, rear derailleur and shifters, the Stragglers were finished with purple anodized Paul Klamper brakes, Chain Keeper, Tall and Handsome seatpost, Boxcar stems, Cross Levers, SRAM Shifter Adaptors, Stem Cap Light Mounts, and Quick Releases. In a month's time, Paul will offer a limited run of purple anodized Klampers, Tall and Handsome seatposts and Boxcar stems.
With such versatile bikes on hand, we rode pavement, dirt and mountain bike trails over the course of three days. In fact, once we arrived in Chico, we also used them as transport thanks to a Light & Motion headlight provided for us.
Price hosted a small gathering of cycling media in Chico to ride bikes and visit with the parts maker (click to enlarge).
During photo shoots, I remarked how bikes like the Straggler look better with a coating of dust. This led one of the Paul crew to mention that Price doesn't maintain his bikes, all in the name of testing. Later Price commented, "That's the best way to find the weak link."
Price doesn't recommend this neglect to consumers, but it is a real-world way to test durability. This tactic has resulted in parts with an incredible lifespan, as many Paul Component users can attest.
Lunch on day two was beside the Big Chico Creek, home to beautiful crawdads, fish and frogs (click to enlarge).
Rides were friendly and fun, with a mid-ride picnic along the Big Chico Creek in Bidwell Park on the second day. To stay in keeping with the workmanlike setting, other meals were low-key, at a local diner for breakfasts, and pub food for one dinner at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, another source of pride for Chico. Both Paul and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. have a strong sense of environmental responsibility.
As makers of things, and consumers of resources, they feel it is important to quantify your impact on the world and do what's possible to mitigate any negative effects. It's also supremely important to produce high quality goods. Otherwise all that consumption has no lasting upside. With over 25 years of producing excellent bicycle parts, Paul Price seems to have a good handle on that balance, perhaps the most important component Price has ever created.