Paul Component Engineering Cranks: It’s a Cult Thing


Paul Component Engineering Cranks: It’s a Cult Thing

Ever-digging through cycling esoterica, John landed a set of Paul Component Engineering Cranks recently, thus spurring a desire to wax poetic about them, juxtaposed by a recent comment he read last month on this very website. Read on for a ramble…

“It’s a cult thing” was perhaps the best response to a comment made on the BTCHN Bikes Paul Crank spider Radar post I put up on April 8th. The Radar column is a day-to-day duty for me and I use it to post fast finds throughout the industry, no matter how niche they may be. Seeing Tyler from BTCHN Bikes finally put his spiders up for sale after first debuting a prototype last year at MADE brought me joy.

I think we all do this weird shit for that: joy.

… because why else would we spend all this time and energy on this stuff?

There aren’t ordinary-looking cranks, not to me anyway, nor do they have performance anxiety playing in today’s world. Square taper bottom brackets aren’t problematic. They have a place like a rigid MTB or single speed; you must know a product’s limitations and balance its use case accordingly.

My motivation for collecting and using this old weird componentry is because it’s different in a sea of banality. When your life is 24/7 bikes, and you ride as many different bikes as I do, there’s something nice about hopping on your own bike, built to your own tastes and standards.

These standards are indicative of a time and a place, and most importantly, with regard to these cranks, my friends made them.

Friends I ride bikes with, share life experiences with and have phone calls to vent about the bike industry or life’s struggles with. They’re confidants, people to share music with, and people you feel comfort in sending memes of weirdo pet goats to.

And while I might be in a different position in this industry than most, I value this connection and the “real person” nature of companies like Paul Component Engineering.

Another comment recently called Paul “boutique” and that label made me giggle. Nothing about a US-made component from PAUL is boutique. It’s raw aluminum, machined in a small shop in Chico, California, run by a bunch of weirdos who do this for one reason and one reason only: joy.

These parts are void of ostentation–well, maybe not this one-of-one rasta anodized crankset–and are meant to be used, ridden, and eventually passed on throughout the community of souls who nerd out on this shit.

Some people tinker with carburetors, others with square tapers, film cameras, and friction shifting. The commonality shared is part therapy and part human condition.

We’re problem solvers and purists, finding balance in the egregious juxtaposition of modern and not-so-modern: Yes, I’ll cram this 10-speed chainring into a 12-speed drivetrain. Just watch me!

These cranks are not representative of mass-produced banality nor are they a performance-minded product; they are the result of passion and art. The by product of aluminum chips, design tolerances, product research and development. They smell of acrid grease and oil from numerous parts bins.

And dammit, I love them because they look different than a sea of aforementioned modernity and monotony.

I hope you didn’t expect anything deep here. Writing this quick post is more about an homage to friends, weird parts, and buying a rare bike part off someone from their bike shop’s Instagram stories for $420.69.

Thanks to Tim from Cycle Church in Petaluma for the cranks and Travis from Paul Component for the chainring and bolts!