Paul’s Black Cat Monster Cross

When Paul Component owner Paul Price started to “make it big” he told himself that he wanted to order a bike each year from a NorCal frame builder. Retrotec, Rock Lobster, Sycip, etc, etc. At the time there were a handful of builders and for a few years he kept to his yearly deposit.

Then he got busy, the framebuilding industry grew and technology changed. For a few years he focused on the company and put his frame builder promise on hold. He then came back around to his promise and at the Sacramento NAHBS, picked up this Black Cat monster cross from Todd. Soon it became his staple bike. Like many custom frames, Paul had an idea for this bike that surrounded a specific component or part.

Those Panaracer Fire Cross tires are awesome, but they won’t fit on most production bikes, or even most custom bikes. 45mm is a lot of rubber for a cyclocross bike, and Paul knew that so he asked Todd to build him a bike around those tires. The end result is really incredible.

The beausage on the cranks alone are worth a photo. Luckily, I shot the whole bike too…

  • Liam Griffin

    The whole setup is awesome and that cockpit is next level! Any idea why he went with a mixed brake setup with canti in the rear and mini-V in the front?

    • Jordan Katterheinrich

      I was wondering the same thing. Been trying to decide which style to go with on a recent build and am not sure the benefit of the different designs. Paul or John, could you expand?

      • John Watson

        See above

      • carl bradtmiller

        it is helpful to think of v-brakes and mini-v’s (mini motos) as direct pull cantilevers. when john says running a higher yoke gives more ‘stoppiness’, what he actually means is that it is giving him less mechanical advantage and more modulation. all other things being equal, the higher the yoke, the less mechanical advantage your brake has.

        from sheldon: “There is a case to be made for less than maximum mechanical advantage on the front brakes of bikes that are aimed at less experienced riders, lest they lock up the front wheel and hurt themselves.”

        “Generally, more mechanical advantage is better than less, but it is possible to overdo it. With a brake set up for maximum mechanical advantage, the shorter transverse cable has a shallower yoke angle. This may make it difficult or impossible to unhook the transverse cable for wheel removal. For some riders, it may be a worthwhile trade-off to give up some braking power for the sake of easier wheel removal.”

    • John Watson

      Canti’s feel great on the rear of a cross bike but don’t offer the same stopping power of a Minimoto. Mini Vs are super strong but don’t feel as good as a canti, so you do this to get the best from each brake. Personally, I run a high yoke and super toed in brakes to get more stoppiness from cantis up front.

    • Tony Clifton

      Well also, he doesn’t have a cable stop on the back to run housing a Minimoto cable noodle, since the bike was designed specifically for cantis.

    • Kenneth Ho

      If he picked it up at NAHBS in Sacramento- that was Feb 2012, and the mini-motos didn’t come out til later that year. You could always use a stepped washer in the seat-tube cable guide to use a mini-moto though.

      • John Watson

        Paul gets to ride things before they’re released. Sometimes for 2 years…

      • Chris

        Paul had the Mini-moto’s on display at NAHBS in Sac. I talked with him at length about them.

      • black cat bicycles

        the bike was built the year before the mini-motos were released. don’t quite remember which one. austin? maybe? they all kinda run together for me, as they seem to for paul as well… i do remember that we were one booth over from each other in richmond where he saw a ‘cross bike and asked for one similar.

        also, the bike was in fact designed for uci racing. the tires were to be overinflated with nitrous oxide, then when the uci official bent to inspect the tire, a bit was let out, things got foggy for official, and paul could clinch the victory. it’s all part of a diabolical plan for world domination. damn you, meddling kids! if it weren’t for tommaso gomez and his ilk, we woulda gotten away with it too!

    • Luke Doney

      because he’s THE MAN! love this bike!

  • hans

    need a wider shot of the cockpit so i can see everything going on! so much cool on this thing. love the curve of those stays in the 2nd shot, really sexy

  • Tony Clifton

    My Black Cat SS monster cross was designed around those very same [awesome] tires…

  • Jake Kruse

    ultra rad bike.

  • James Moore

    I thought Paul’s chainrings were only designed for 1/8 chains? Because I’ve wanted to use a Paul crankset on a 5 speed road bike for a while, but can’t. Is that a 1/8 chainring with a narrower chain, or is that a custom ring?

    • Raoul Morley

      See I was sure there was a period with an adapater and 3/32nd ring existed but then went again, it’s weird that the MTB cranks aren’t even listed on Paul’s website at the moment. I just wishe they’s hurry up with the Thruaxles as I need a pair and the disk brakes….

      • Western Rapid

        I think in the age of 1x, they need to re-introduce their smaller and/or MTB chain rings again. I went to their site at the end of last year to buy a 36T, only to find that they’d disappeared from sale.

        Luckily, I got in touch with them and discovered they had a little stash sat on a shelf, and bagged one for my build…!

        • Raoul Morley

          Ah good I didn’t imagine it, that’s nice to know!

          • Western Rapid

            Come to think of it, I’d be surprised if they aren’t already developing a wide-narrow-wide 1x chainring already. It’s pretty current spec, and it would be great if they did…

  • Chris
  • Tommaso Gomez

    Race whatever you want if it’s legal, but I wish the UCI 33mm width limit applied in all US CX races. The hardest part of cross is finding and maintaining speed when you don’t have much traction. Tire width restrictions keep the playing field level. If you still want to race wider tires, there’s always STXC, which is basically CX with mountain bikes.

    • Kernel Flickitov

      What does this writeup about Paul’s bike have anything to do with racing or UCI tire regs?

    • John Watson

      Dude… Missing the point. This is an all around bike to be ridden on “all roads” and yeah, racing bigger tires might give you a slight advantage in some courses but it’s still not going to be the best / fastest tire by default.
      Also, who cares about the UCI’s rules on tire sizes? I don’t race UCI… Nor does Paul, who’s 52 years old.
      People need to loosen up.

      • Tommaso Gomez

        Actually, you called it a “Monster Cross” in the title, so I assumed someone was going to race it in CX, not necessarily Paul himself. Maybe you need to loosen up and allow some different opinions on your site?

        • AttackCowboy

          As @kernelflickitov:disqus said, it’s not that your opinion is a problem, it’s that your opinion has no connection to the post. This is a post about a sweet custom ride specifically built around 45mm tire, no mention of racing let alone the UCI. If this were a post about racing Nanos in a cross race (which does exist on this site), then it would make sense to start the discussion. As it stands, it seems mean spirited to come in a rant about big tires in a manner unrelated to the post at hand.

          • AttackCowboy

            And Monster Cross is usually used to describe fully rigid drop bar bikes somewhere between a traditional cyclocross bike and a 29er. Not race related and certainly not UCI sanctioned cyclocross related.

          • Tommaso Gomez

            There was nothing mean spirited about my comment, it’s just a different opinion. If you don’t think it’s relevant, you don’t have to reply. Sometimes I forget that we’re just supposed to throw high fives all day and buy whatever products John is shilling under the guise of “reportage”.

          • AttackCowboy

            Coming to a post about a bike specifically made around 45mm tires to harp on non-UCI tires is what I was calling attention to as mean spirited not to mention both of your replies (especially this one). It’s not constructive (as opposed to bringing it up an actual post about cross racing) and demeaning to the people and work put into a bike like this.

            ‘You don’t have to reply’ is just like ‘ignore the trolls’, a bullshit excuse to accept the status quo instead of actively improving an online community. I also fail to see the problem with an community primarily focused on providing high-fives, that sounds like a great place to be.

          • Andrew Deane

            I think equating his post to trolling is the most ‘mean spirited’ part of this entire (and inane) discussion. Yes, he made a somewhat unrelated and perhaps I’ll informed comment (which I am sure the rest of you never do) but why do four or five radavist uber-fans have to pile on him and attack him for it? Just ignore it and his comment fades into the background while we all look at the bike. To be quite honestthe responses to the original poster confirm his point about the high-five culture in the comment section of this site. Therefore, so as to avoid his undeserved fate, I want to declare how much I like this bike. Yeah monster cross. Sick. This bike wins the internet. Did I pass the test?

          • John Watson

            *passes bottle over*

          • John Watson

            So… is this another example of how I need to “loosen up?” You’re throwing a lot of passive-aggressive commentary and I’m just trying to be tactful.

            My reply that “people need to loosen up” was in reference to how so many people want rules with cycling, be it UCI or aesthetic, or functional rules. Rules inhibit fun, in my opinion anyway.

            Your opinion is relevant, yet out of context here, so pardon me being brief in my reply (which I typed while sitting in the passenger seat of that incredibly warm speedvagen truck).

          • Jon Severson

            No, it did come off as mean spirited and you don’t know what you’re talking about so just admit it. You don’t know what monster cross is, which is fine, but take the time to study it before you smack talk. But John is correct 110% on this. I know, I’ve studied and followed monster cross long before anyone bothered to post to the internet about it.

        • James

          eat a piece of chocolate you’ll feel better : )

        • John Watson

          Different opinions are totally fine, when they’re tactful and relevant to the discourse. I just didn’t see why or how you made the connection to bring up a UCI rule and it’s Paul’s bike, there’s nothing in the copy that alludes to other people riding it.

          • Jon Severson


        • Mitch Lomacz

          Dude, monster cross is just a term someone coined for an enormous tire on a cross bike. Nothing here is about “racing”.

          However, I think we need to sanction a Monster Cross discipline of racing so we all can be regulated by the UCI and can pay money to competitively ride with other people on fire roads with adequately sized tires and argue opinions of tread patterns. Amiright?!

        • Jon Severson

          @tommasogomez:disqus you probably should do some reading up on monster cross, because @johnprolly:disqus is quite correct in calling this beast such. So is Paul. Monster cross is essentially a big cross bike, right between a cyclocross bike and a 29er. This is fact. Started with Matt Chester 14 years ago.

          Follow to get up to speed on all things monster cross.

  • Ham Sandwich

    upside down paul sticker, upside down stem faceplate but rightside up chris king headset?! NEXT LEVEL SHIT. takin’ notes.

  • Schmeebs

    He’s got a cool Engin 29+ bike which is worth considering since you said Drew had never made a 29+ bike before.

    • John Watson

      Paul’s was a “prototype” before Drew officially offered the 29+… He worked the kinks out. I was also relaying what I was told by Enjin.

  • Chris

    Sooo, maannny, commas! Good lord, so many commas,. Why so many, commas?

  • MattyB

    Here’s a link to the bike on Black Cat’s site when it was brand new, kinda cool to see the years of use. Some small changes to parts across the years too, but mostly the same

  • tony365

    What a lovely bicycle. and a rare look into a very knowledgable persons preferences thanks.

  • Harry

    I love crank arm rub! #beausage

  • kermitonwheels

    That has to be one of my favourite handle bar shapes. Anyone have any clues what they are?

    • Felix

      Nitto Noodle propably. Def a Nitto

    • Greg Biché

      Nitto Noodle. buy one. you won’t regret it

  • Kenneth Ho

    I’m surprised nobody said anything about the drop-bar-top thumbie shifter! You don’t see that too often. It’s chill.

    • prefontaine

      Agreed. Anyone know who makes the thumb shifter?

      • carl bradtmiller

        sram tt shifter on a thumbie

  • Wiley_Jackson

    Those sexy compound-arc seatstays tho…

  • Anthony Bier

    Very nice. I built myself a monstercross, but tired to make it fit a 29x 2.1 tire. There are definitely some hitches with trying to go that wide. The firecross is a good alternative for when I wear out my Bontrager 29×2.0 tires. The thumbie and the cross lever would be one offs to fit the 26.0 collar or the noodles or can you actually order that from Paul? I suppose one could contact them about custom milling….

  • toddnrichardson

    ###check this out >DoItNow<

  • Greg Biché

    wow what an excellent bike! thanks for posting

  • Jeff Vader

    Awesome, I love how one little chain guide on the front makes the whole
    clutch-narrow-wide thing obsolete. And the TT shifter makes so much
    sense. Throw any wheel on it and run in friction mode. Nothings going to
    wear out on that bike in a hurry. Beautiful.

  • c.a. metzler

    So we’ve got a 9, maybe a 10, speed cassette on the rear, with a Paul crank for which there are only 1/8th inch chainrings available…. special CNCing for the Man or black magic?

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