The Eleven Bikes of the 2017 Paul Camp Builder Fleet

Paul Camp is a magical week where Paul Component Engineering invites journalists from all over the US to check out their day to day operations through a series of hands-on workshops. Each journalist is assigned a CNC machine, or workstation and is taught the skills needed to machine brakes, stems, and other components. From there, they camp out on the property, eat sandwhiches and run the machines 24 hours a day, in shifts. This gives the employees of Paul a chance to ride during the week. Everybody wins!

Just kidding. In reality, Paul gives the journalists a tour of the shop, where he walks them through the process of fabricating everything in the Paul Component Engineering catalog. From there, they are able to select a bike from one of eleven builders and go on a ride in the hills of Chico. Swimming usually ensues, along with a Sierra Nevada Brewery tour, some dinner and then everyone goes home. It’s a rad time, or at least I’ve heard it is, because each year, for one reason or another, I cannot attend this Bicycle Journalist Spring Break.

Feeling like I owe Mr. Paul something, not only because we’re friends, but because he had these eleven bikes just hanging out, waiting for a proper photoshoot, I planned on heading up to Chico once I got back from my European travels. Last week, I loaded up the truck and drove straight up California for 10 hours until I reached Chico, Paul and these bikes.

This year’s builders were: Falconer, McGovern, Hunter, Oddity, Sklar, Blue Collar, Sycip, Steve Rex, Caletti, Speedvagen, and Retrotec. Each builder was given two options for a frame: monster cross or mountain bike. The reason being, Chico’s roads are ok, but the trails and fire roads are incredible. They also happen to be really rocky, so the bigger the tires, the better. Paul would supply the same components for each bike, along with White Industries, Velocity, X Fusion, WTB and SRAM. Any astute observer would note that there was an overall color theme for this year’s bikes: red, white and blue.

The frames arrived and Paul’s team assembled them with the help of Cameron Falconer. While red bikes aren’t necessarily my thing, I will say that as a group, this looks phenomenal. As a photographer and a cyclists, I really appreciate conceptual projects like this. Each builder took the color palette and applied their design intuition, resulting in an essential piece to the Paul puzzle. The only bikes I was able to ride were the Retrotec and the Hunter, two builders that know a thing or two about shreddyness.

Which bike would you prefer to ride and why? There’s something for everyone in here…

Thanks to Paul for showing me around town and to the rest of the Paul Component Engineering staff for kicking so much ass. High fives!

  • Nicholas Petersen

    White Industries headsets..when?

    • Soon! They’re still dialing in the tolerances.

  • Michael Lopez

    why the interrupter lever on each bike?

    • Well… the thumbie shifter for the MTB trigger is there, so it balances out the cockpit.

  • boomforeal

    what in the world is going on with the back end of the oddity?

    • Keith Lee

      Curious too. Removable rear triangle? Return of chainstay U-Brakes???

      • Jared Jerome

        To me this looks like the case (removable rear triangle) because it’s got the splitters at the top of the seat stays. Since there isn’t a way to lengthen the seat stays you couldn’t change the length of the chain stays, other than to take it apart (as far as I can tell). I’d guess there’s some sort of threaded piece inside that inner-chain stay and a bolt on the bottom side of the chain stay.

    • Ham Sandwich

      the bike breaks down into 84 separate bottle openers and one medium-sized bong.

    • You’re able to make the stays longer or shorter, to the best of my knowledge.

      • boomforeal

        sick

    • David Dye

      The rear triangle can be removed for packing. The chainstay split also functions as a chain tensioner if you want to go SS.

    • earle.b

      Pretty sure Sam at of Naked did a similar system years ago to tension a singlespeed.

  • Crmsnghst

    Cameron Falconer is the MAN!!! (Ive posted this before but it bears repeating.)

    • And he can shred!

      • Crmsnghst

        Ive had the pleasure of working in a few shops with him over the years and aside from riding, the man can fix ANYTHING. Ive seen him pull apart ancient Sturmey-Archer kickback three speed hubs and completely overhaul them all without a manual. Seriously nuts.

        • Theodor Rzad

          That’s a fine test of mechanic’s meddle :)

        • Richard

          Whoa.

    • Theodor Rzad

      Should have my Falconer allroader around the end of the year…:)

  • PGH_small_adventures

    That Blue collar looks like it’s begging to have some BMX cruiser bars put on it.

  • I had a blast tearing it up in the park with everyone! Bummed you missed the large ride but glad you got to check them out! Word is that Garrett’s multi awesome tool bag is BFF with the fanny pack and they love to go on sweet bike rides!!

  • Ryan

    So many well put together bikes, but the paint show goes to the Speedvagen. Subtle and discreet to the viewer, but the rider’s perspective is pure Evel.

  • Chris Valente

    Hunter don’t read this…
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    Oddity… hello.

    • Theodor Rzad

      I’m a big Hunter fan, but I hear you. That Oddity ROCKS; many cool design ideas but it doesn’t feel cluttered w/ every cool idea the builder ever had.

  • Edwin van der Velden

    do miss the purple..

  • Raoul Morley

    Can’t believe I’m typing this but it’s the first time I’ve seen a Vanilla and thought meh, and weirdly the first Oddity I’ve seen that I’ve thought yep I’d take that home.

  • Murray Watson

    Any photos of the Steve Rex mixte that Natsuko was riding?

    • That wasn’t a Paul Camp bike. It was a friend of Paul’s bike. It was the only thing that fit Natsuko.

      • Murray Watson

        Damn! that looked super interesting

        • Jan Heine

          I think Natsuko will write about it in Bicycle Quarterly.

  • Erik_A

    The Stem cap light mount is prominent: https://paulcomp.com/shop/components/stem-cap-light-mount/ Non my preference though, would rather have it off of the bar to the side of the stem.

    I like the Vanilla canti frame. I bet the MiniMoto’s stop as well as the Klamper’s for most cyclocross and gravel rides.

    • Matthew J

      I have MiniMotos on my tour/commute bike. Went with them over disc mainly because I had a set of NOS Campy Record mountain levers I really wanted to use sometime before I die.

      MiniMotos are easy to set up and maintain. They stop the heck out of the bike.

    • mrbiggs

      They do. I’ve got Minimotos on my SS gravel/cx and Klampers on my geared gravel/cx. The main difference is modulation, in that the Klampers have more. There’s much more slow-down before stop. The Minimotos are more… pronounced. That said, I suspect it’ll be a long time before I feel like the SSCX needs an “upgrade.”

      • Erik_A

        It seems like the single piston mech. disc “BB7” caliper design that the Klampers share is a bit outdated, when compared to the dual piston mechanical calipers from TRP. That being said, I have never used Klampers, only the BB7’s. I do however love the TRP HY/Rd mech. actuated hydraulic disc calipers, on my drop bar bikes – great engineering, even if they look a bit clunky.

  • Daniel Lemke

    I really like the looks of the McGovern. It looks like a lot of fun.

  • andygowans

    Ooh that stem cap mount thing is hideous (image #2). Perhaps for a touring rig but for trail riding it looks like a particularly hazardous location.

  • Oscar Ramirez

    I’m not usually a SS rider, but that Speedvagen looks like a fun ride. Great set.

    • Theodor Rzad

      If Evel Knievel road SS CX…

  • Daniel Powell

    All of these are beautiful bikes, and great photos, John…..but I gotta ask…someone explain it to me please. Why no pedals, but they all have saddles, and tires? And brake pads? Not aimed at this site, I see it all the time. It makes zero sense to me. On a new bike review I get it…but these bikes were all ridden at this event…all spec’d to the whims of the various builders.

    • These bikes were all built for the media folks who attended Paul Camp. They brought their own pedals, and took them when they left.

      • Peter Chesworth

        The Sklar is just wonderful. Right mix of integrity and flash.

    • Show bikes don’t have pedals because pedals get in the way at shows. These don’t have pedals for the reason Adam pointed out.

  • Chris W

    I feel like Paul needs to make some drop bar levers, so many Cane Creeks!

    Also – this reminds me that I desperately want the White headset and cranks. Maybe next time I’m in Petaluma I’ll stop in..

    • Peter Chesworth

      Second Chris W. They could be great. Correct mechanical advantage and just aluminium … no hoods.

      • Theodor Rzad

        +1 Chris + Peter and I’ll raise you a selectable mechanical advantage ala the Cross Levers…three of my bikes could use a Paul Drop lever!

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  • Craig Draayer

    Anyone know what the bars on the McGovern are? Looks to be similar to the Soma Junebug

  • Theodor Rzad

    Looking forward to Jan Heine’s write up in an upcoming BQ. His point of view + the Nor-Cal DIY ethos should be complementary and thought provoking

  • Simon Becker

    Ough, the US flag paintjobs – or let it be the colour red – suck big time ;-) I’ve seen so much better paint jobs from all of these builders.
    Geometrywise the seatpost angle looks weird on the oddity. My fav so far ist the SKLAR, for the thinner tubes and of course the bow design, just followed 2nd by the CALETTI… Just my cents!

  • joe_man

    Such a nice gallery. Hunter gets the prize for best fork at least. Love the subtle bend and the crown that’s like a hybrid of an old Ritchey biplane and a segmented design. The wishbone seat stays are nice too, but the Sycip has it beat.

  • Leroy

    That Vanilla takes the blue anodised cake. So gorgeous.
    Love the brake mullet. Just wish the minimoto up front had mismatched calipers to accent the offset paintjob.

  • Edelman

    What’s that blue loop thing sticking out of each bike’s steerer?

  • Erik Steele

    LOve All of these bikes. Oddity is going to take the Cake for me.But I love the Colors on all of them, and the Paul Component Engineering stuff is RAD!

  • That vanilla looks great! Overall I like the how the blue ano components play on the white frames a bit better than red. That steve rex looks like a ripper too.