Cyclocross Magazine, along with a handful of other publications, had the opportunity to take a tour of Paul Component Engineering's factory, ride Chico's trails and tour the Sierra Nevada brewery in May last year. We're back at the 2017 event (with the only returning journalist), but in case you missed it, we're resurfacing the tale of our journey from last year. Come along for a photo-heavy factory and brewery tour, a look at the Paul Component Engineering's history and a slideshow filled with eye candy. And stay tuned to our Instagram feed for the latest from 2017.
Machine Learning in Chico
See a purple anodized bicycle component and many will have strong reactions as to what it symbolizes. For some of us older cyclists, the shiny purple parts represent the explosion in popularity of mountain biking and the peak of small-scale American component manufacturing.
For others, it was an era of fashion-driven component selection and machining everything for gram savings that’s better off forgotten.
Younger cyclists’ exposure to the era may be limited to eBay results, as many of the original components from companies like Ringle, Cooks, Topline, Kooka, Onza and Salsa that got in on the action still command a pretty penny. But as fast as the CNC era stormed onto the mountain bike scene, it endoed, leaving those companies in pieces, scrambling to eventually be absorbed into a larger company, or to lick their wounds and close their doors.
Only a few companies survived the crash of the American-made component industry. In Northern California, two stand tall over all the fallen. Chico-based Paul Component Engineering, and Petaluma-based White Industries. Although the two companies have some overlap in products, as they both make hubs and cranksets, there’s plenty of mutual admiration (our test bikes had a smattering of White Industry components).
And despite Paul Component Engineering still CNC machining its products from aluminum and color anodizing them, the company has evolved and learned quite a bit from the purple anodized era.
Continue on to read about Price’s first inventions.