Paul have been manufacturing high-end bike components since 1989, based out of Chico, California – one of the homes of MTB. Their product is known for its superior quality, unique function and clean aesthetics. And is much loved for it’s honest and passionate approach to the cycling market.
Recently, COSMIC had the pleasure of talking over mail with Paul founder and company namesake, Paul Price, to hear about the early beginnings, his most loved products, future plans and of course, that brake lever.
COSMIC – Hi Paul, firstly, thanks for your time, we know you’ve been very busy with all the recent trade shows. So, can we start with the beginning, why and how did you start making bike parts?
Paul – I always knew I would make stuff and sell it for a living. I got out of college with an engineering degree and got a job in the big world, but was never very happy with this situation. I was used to working in bike shops and messing around with bikes but this was a big company and I was not that well prepared for competitive big city life. Then a year in, my college sweetheart called off our planned wedding and I just felt I had nothing to lose and why not make a go at my dream life. I bought the cheapest house I could find that had a garage in the small town of Chico, and a small mill and lathe. I got a job at Mountain Goat for 5$ an hour grinding fillets on brazed frames.
C – What were the first parts you launched and why?
P – The first parts were quick releases. Ringle had come out with their cam design and I really didn’t like them, being a traditional Campy lover. I made a traditional eccentric style that was lighter and could be had with purple levers and nuts. The purple part was very important…people wanted purple everything back then!
C – Ha, ha…yes. And people still want purple parts today – it’s very cosmic! So what challenges did you have to overcome when making this first batch of parts?
P – The experience was such an eye opener. I went out and did cold calls at bike shops and was flabbergasted when I actually sold some! Then I had to make the darn things which of course took way longer and was way more complicated trying to get an efficient process going. I spent a few years there just barely making it and eating Top Ramen and working my ass off!
C – That definitely shows dedication. What is the Paul shop set up like today?
P – The set up is about 6000 square feet, nine employees, and seven cnc machines. It’s an old Texaco petroleum distributor with a large part of the building at train level because they took their deliveries by rail. The old tracks are now a bike path right behind the shop. I love that! There is also a small building where I keep my manual machines and do tooling, prototypes and goofing around in.
C – Can you explain the ethos behind your products?
P – Just that we design for function, not prettiness.
C – From the outside, Paul appears to be a company that focuses on the production of more niche bike parts, is this a reflection of the teams own cycling passions and needs or about being a bit anti-mainstream?
P – Both. I have to fiddle with stuff and try to make it better and stock bikes are BORING! We could also not compete directly with the big three; Shimano, Sram and Campy. Tried that, didn’t work. So we nibble around the edges. It’s way more interesting out here and a lot more fun and creative.
To be continued…