Factory Tour: Paul Components

In the world of high end touring bikes, and in the hallowed halls of NAHBS, Paul Components have long been a popular staple. The company produces a wide variety of high end components that are renowned for their showroom good looks and ability to withstand daily abuse.

Each and every one of the beautiful products they produce are manufactured in a small factory in Northern California. Head past the break to see how it’s done…

Our tour of the Paul facilities began in a small warehouse opposite of the cluster of main buildings. As the door swung open, bright sunlight streamed in to reveal a tight cluster of machines. Paul’s collection of mills and lathes and toys would put a grin on even the dourest of online engineers. Click on the image above for a “panoramic” view.

Here, surrounded by small mountains of metal shavings and myriad of dials, Paul frequently works late into the night hand crafting prototypes.

From the prototype room to production, everything is cut from aluminum stock which is stored just outside the factory door.

The stock for small materials such as brake adjusters is ordered precut to facilitate manufacturing.

Moving from the outdoor storage into the main warehouse, dozens of unusual bikes hung from the rafters, but the lonely full suspension BMX bike (pictured left) was the only one that truly captured my heart attention.

The first step to turning raw materials into sleek components is cutting the aluminum to down to size.

Once the blocks are cut, they are placed inside a CNC mill.

After they’re pulled from the machine, samples from each batch are checked for tolerances.

 

The before, middle, and after stages yield startling results.

Once the product approaches it’s “finished” state, it’s ready for the next step.

The products are then transferred to the much-louder-than-a-death-metal-concert “tumbling room” where small parts are placed in a walnut shell bath and buffed to a shiny finish.

Larger components go through a tumbler filled with ceramic cones.

Once the components emerge with a freshly polished facade, the tolerances are measured once more before getting ready to be shipped.

At this point, some components still require manual assembly. The back region of the factory houses a small assembly area packed with components. It’s here where each item is double checked for quality, assembled, and packaged.

In the video above, we get a quick walk through of what it takes to assemble the new Paul MTB Disc Hubs.

Each of the components is packaged in a box hand-stamped with love and then shipped to your local bike shop. Each of the custom stamps is actually produced by a local vendor.

Paul’s vision isn’t strictly limited to cycling products. If you take a quick spin from his factory to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, you’ll be greeted with this anodized green cady bearing three of our favorite mustards. Flip the carrier around and you’ll spy the trademark P. It this level of innovation that’s earned him a mug in the Brewery’s VIP cabinet. You can spot Paul’s in the top left hand corner of the image.

Special thanks to Paul Components for the tour. You can check out their recently redesigned website here.

Comments

K11 - 04/11/13 - 11:52am

Nice article, great paul components. Proving american made not only can be done, but excels in quality.

Funtoolseby - 04/11/13 - 12:58pm

Great stuff.

Do you remember the Paul’s derailleurs? Yeah. I wish I could forget them, too.

EMBER - 04/11/13 - 1:35pm

Oh man. Who hold that camera?

Jeroen - 04/11/13 - 2:58pm

oh man… how not to press in bearings!

kest56 - 04/11/13 - 3:22pm

Jeroen, How would you press the bearings differently?

Dan - 04/11/13 - 5:07pm

Jeroen, even though it does look like they center pressed the bearing it if yuo look closely at the tool it really is shoulder pressing teh bearing in.

John - 04/11/13 - 5:58pm

@Seraph, I beieve that one shop, local here in chico (small northern California town), has a decorative mobile hanging made from Paul derailleur parts. I wish he would make just the front derailleur to go with the melvin chain tensioner so that I could build an all Paul mountain 2 speed.

Jono - 04/11/13 - 6:00pm

Dan’s right. The bearing press tool has a slight taper on the face so that it only contacts the outer race of the bearing, and not the rolling elements or inner race. The boss in the center of the tool is just for locating the bearing concentrically.

GMB - 04/11/13 - 9:52pm

You can’t measure “tolerances”, but you can take a measurement to see if it falls within the specified tolerance.

Speedware Bike Parts - 04/12/13 - 1:42am

Yes the Paul derailleurs are legdendary, the multicolor was great.

ReverendG - 04/12/13 - 2:04am

What’s with the revisionist history? Yeah, their derailleur was indeed legendary – legendary for being complete sh*t. Other than that, the rest of their lineup (I have the Moto brake, Love Levers, and Thumbies) is great.

Jeroen - 04/12/13 - 5:44am

@Dan; pressing in that freewheel assembly into the hub shell did require pressing in the outer race through the inner race and bearing balls. Next hammering down the axle through the already (properly) pressed bearings in the hubshell made me shuckle too.

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