20 Questions 20 Questions with Paul Price

..of Paul Componenet Engineering (nice parts since 1989) fame.

1 ) Retrobike: What's going on at the mo at Paul Comp? How's business?

PP: Business is very good. We're buying new machines and expanding the building to meet worldwide demand.

2 ) RB: What do you guys get asked for most these days? Hubs? Brakes? Small plastic horses? (Love those product shoots.)

PP: The Chain Keeper has been a huge success, and we have several new mounting styles in the works. The market for brakes and levers is still very good too. The Racer after a few years is finally getting some momentum.

3 ) RB: I know you are just stoked to be in the shop and working away at a project, but do you still find the time to ride enough?

PP: I ride almost every day, at least every other day. Ten years ago I didn't ride for a couple years and business was in the crapper. Then one day I woke up and gave a finger to the world and went for a bike ride. Things have been getting better ever since.

4 ) RB: The world's gone a day left to run. Where do you ride? On what? And with who? (and which colour brakes do you fit?)

PP: We are at the base of the Sierra Nevada's' so I'd head up and get as high in elevation as possible, and away from as many people as possible.

5 ) RB: Following the XTR years that had a far reaching and damaging effect on high end aftermarket guys like Paul Comp back in the mid nineties, I read that you and the others got through that by leaning out and aiming where the big companies weren't looking. How's that working out now?..given that niche is the new mainstream for some of those big hitters.

PP: So far it's good. There are still small enough spots where we can excel and they won't bother us. Our main strength is speed though. I can go for a ride, think up a new part, get back to the shop and have the part made by that afternoon for testing the next day. That has actually happened a few times, but usually it's a week or so.

6 ) RB: Desert Island Discs scenario. Marooned on a desert island. One luxury. Bike? Wine? Another Human? Choose one.

PP: I love bikes, but women are just a touch above for me.

7 ) RB: It's not about the bike. Those that get it, all know that. But it sort of is though isn't it? Does it matter what you're riding as long as you're out there? Or Is there a specific best friend on two wheels that you always reach for?

PP: I have about 16 bikes in rotation right now. I'll add another this year. I love riding them all. One bike is designed specifically for a single local dirt road that's my favorite morning ride. But it's also fun to take a bike where it ISN"T supposed to be. Like a crit bike on a fire road, or a cross bike on single track. I try to put myself in as many different situations as possible-this where the inspiration for new parts comes from.


8 ) RB: I noticed this week that it has taken the big manufacturers about 18 months to bring fixies with trendy deep rims and cartoon colour schemes to market after Charge and a couple of smaller independents forced the niche mainstream. How long does it take you guys to bring a product to the marketplace? What can we look forward to in the future from Paul Comp?

PP: It takes anywhere from a week to several years. It all depends on testing. Some parts that receive high stresses need to be tested by machine and by several people thrashing the crap out of them. Soon there will be a Racer M brake which will be a medium or "standard" 47-57mm reach. There is also a seat post in the bag and our new quick releases will be ready next year.

9 ) RB: Should Anodised Purple come back?

PP: Hell yes! It's coming anyway so the sooner it gets here the sooner it will go away.

10 ) RB: Are you aware it went away in the first place?

PP: Oh yea. Been there, done that. Very funny.

11 ) RB: Ok, all important question.The RB Cake-O-Meter has pegged you as a possible Dundee Cake kind of a guy...spill it..what's your baked preference?

PP: Sweet potato.


12 ) RB: Have you ever made a product and thought 'that's really nailed it'
but the public weren't really ready for it yet? Kind of like the Audi A2 or the Smart Car in Europe? If so, are these all mothballed ready for the day we the people are awakened?

PP: The DiskUnit. It screwed on to the end of the Word axle and you mounted a disk brake caliper to it. Then there was an arm that went to your cantilever boss to anchor it all. We sold about 5, and kept a couple hundred around for a few years. When we moved in 08 they went in the scrap bin.

13 ) RB: The Thumbshifter mounts appear to have been a runaway success, they have quite a cult following. What sparked you to bring precise simple, clicky shifting back to the masses?

PP: Actually somebody over there made some up I think. I saw a picture in one of the English mags, maybe, not sure. Anyway we made some up, tweaked the design here and there and yes, one of our best selling products. I love them!

14 ) RB: Do you have anything you'd love to see brought to life from the drawing board and attached to every bike in the land?

PP: The STEM CAP LIGHT MOUNT is pretty damn versatile. Doesn't add much weight and makes any bike one you can throw a light on at any time for a commute or a night ride.

15 ) RB: What's the coolest part of doing what you do?

PP: I'm really into just riding and thinking right now. Last year I gave myself a break and decided it's ok to ride half the morning, it's now part of my job.

16 ) RB: Any plans for any new aftermarket pimpery? Skewers again? Seat Collars (always thought King would make a lot of cash on a range of those in the same colours as their headsets. I mentioned it. They said no thanks. How about a Paul version, with PAUL PAUL PAUL round them.
Tongue in cheek, but respectful. We'd all buy one to match our headsets I'm sure. Can't be too expensive to make and sell for $$$...?) RB: - Ok, how about a ltd run for us Retrobike boys? ..Go on..:)

PP: I like that idea. A lot.

17 ) RB: Those gorgeous Rear Mechs of yours are changing hands for big $$$ these days. I reckon Jez (retrobike member) RB: has probably had your entire output though his garage doors over the past few years alone. Tempted to have a slice of that yourself once more and flood the 2nd hand market by re-issuing them?

PP: No way, not that design anyway. It was much too fragile and didn't work as good as the competitors. I do have a sexy little number tucked away in the back of my head though. It's part of a four or five part system that is simple, sturdy, rebuild able and goes back to the function over fashion days of bike parts.

18 ) RB: Ok, would you consider a ltd Retrobike edition run of them (the mechs)?

PP: No, sorry.

19 ) RB: Of all that you have been involved in or witnessed in cycling over the years, what are you most proud or in awe of?

PP: Coming to work, wondering around the shop and remembering when I was just fantasizing about it all in High School. Sometimes I ask myself-"is this really my life?", it's that good at times.

20 ) RB: What does tomorrow hold? Or indeed today if you are reading this at 7am due to our trans Atlantic time shift continuum?

PP: It's close to 5 now. I'll work another hour on my 2010 NAHBS booth, maybe sip a cool one and then head home to my second love, my woodworking shop. I'm building some kick ass speakers.