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Paul Explains the 31.8 Dropper Lever and Hayley Assembles One
Paul tells us all about the 31.8 Dropper Lever and Hayley assembles one from beginning to end. Wait, why is Paul laying on the ground getting a wet rope dropped on his face?!


Frostbike is a trade show kind of a thing that is open only to customers and suppliers of Quality Bicycle Products, a distributor of all things bicycle. QBP is also our biggest customer: If they invite us to a thing we go. This year it was held in Denver instead of its normal location in Minniapolis MN which made it totally drivable. Then, to sweeten the deal, SSAZ (Single Speed Arizona) was being held the very following weekend. Combine the two and wham, ROAD TRIP.
Thing is our normal van, a 2014 2X Sprinter, wasn’t passing smog. It seems the NOx sensor was no good, probably because I had driven it with really low (or none) DEF. The registration had run out and I’m really not a fan of driving a vehicle that has an excuse to be pulled over. Know what I mean? So, in a totally impulsive move I bought a new sensor. And it came with a brand new 2019 4X4 Sprinter van. It was delivered on Saturday morning and I took off that Monday after frantically outfitting the interior with a bed and racks and hooks for show/race supplies.
I’ll just leave a comment about our new van right here.
Except for the normal January winter stuff that happens on Hwy 80 in Wyoming, the drive was pretty uneventful. The trade show went well and we met some new friends, saw some cool new bike stuff and had at least one really bad hangover. Pretty much par for the course.


Hangover all done, and with plenty of sleep, I headed out for Arizona. Thing is I had 5 days to get there and it just wasn’t that far. So, I took the long way from Fort Collins to Santa Fe to Tucson via two lane roads over some pretty tall passes. My stop in FOCO was to visit a good friend and incredible frame builder Sean Burns of Oddity Cycles.
I had no idea New Mexico had so much elevation. I believe the highest pass on my quest to take my time was 8200 feet above sea level. It was snowing and 19 degrees outside. I had spent the last couple of days between 6000 and 8000 feet and 18 -38 degrees. Pretty radical for a California Flatlander. On that same road I got flipped off by a cowboy driving a dually towing a horse trailer. I guess it was a message that my hippy ass German van with four weird bikes on the roof and me wearing a funny hat (i.e.: not a cowboy hat) was enough to piss off at least one local.
By Wednesday of that week I was tired of being cold and I just needed to head south and get a room for a few days. I ended up in Bisbee at midnight that night tired and strung out from the road. The race was on Saturday so I had some time to kill. Luckily, I had bikes on the roof and lots of desert to explore. Plus, the town of Bisbee, when I did finally roll out of bed at noon into the sunlight, was as cute as a new puppy chasing its tail and licking its butt.

This is my third SSAZ. The past two have been super fun. But really, lets talk business, I do it for the exposure and connections and if I’m being honest, to sell bike parts. So, sue me if I also enjoy it. The organizer of the “event”, Nate, had been hard at work in another town building trails and stoke when The Man (Forest Service rangers) warned him about getting arrested for having too many people show up. Feeling nervous and fearing jail he then moved the location to Bisbee and with only a week and a half to go worked his ass off on trails and spreading the good word there. But, just guess who shows this time too?…. yep, THE MAN. And he had the exact same thing to say. You run an organized race here with that many people and your ass will end up in jail.

Meanwhile, I had scouted my spot for bacon, beer, whiskey and pickles. It was going to be epic! There was this huge climb to the top of a mountain and the radio towers and turn around were located there. I’d be up there doing my thing and the smell of frying bacon and a couple kegs would be enough to get that party started. This is what we do for race support. And I’m not bluffing when I say we pretty much invented the mid-race party station. (In fact, we are now being invited to do our thing at races near and far so keep an eye out)

Anyhoo, Nate, the race cum “conference” director, cancelled the “race” part of it and all things related to an organized bike event. In place of all that two parties were planned. If you happened to be there then you might also find riding a bike is enjoyable as well. Basically, to the MAN this was not an organized bike ride, but some people might partake out of their love of bicycles and the outdoors. Nate had nothing to do with any of that. Oh, did I mention he had been threatened with jail if he did an organized bike race with that many people?

In the end, Nate did his very best AND stayed out of jail. We were posted at the main camping area in town and did our thing there. There were lots of really happy single speeders and the bike riding part of it seemed to be a total success…even if it supposedly never happened. Our spot there didn’t suck but it wasn’t the bang for all the effort and money I had put into this event. I can’t say I wasn’t a little hurt when I saw pictures of a pickup with two kegs at the spot where we were supposed to be, but that’s single speeding folks.
Oh yea, this was a renegade-first time for the organizer-single speed race. Seems like they all are. Or at least the very best ones are. But the next day I was ready for home. I also missed my cat so I did something really stupid. I drove the entire way in a single day: 1077 miles, 16 ½ hours. I really don’t recommend you do that but if you’re near Cave Creek AZ next late January I would recommend you check out SSAZ 2021. We’ll be there with the party mid-course, and it will be epic with or without The Man.

Did you know that scientists now believe that early humans were not even able to see the color blue?! Even as recent as Greek mythology there was no mention of the color blue but rather “wine-dark” when referencing the color of the sea or sky. Scientists generally believe that humans started seeing the color blue when they started developing blue pigment around 6,000 years ago. Perhaps that is how we ended up with a white dog named Blue here at PAUL HQ? I don’t know. But once the pigments were developed blue quickly became a favorite for ancient Egyptians and modern bicycle enthusiasts, so we decided that the best thing to do was to give the people what they want: BLUE (components, not the dog, we’ll keep him!). 

When it comes to anodizing, some colors are richer and match a whole lot better than others, and blue is one of the best! The richness and evenness of the anodizing renders us with the most beautiful components possible, and we want to share them with you! We are stoked to be offering our complete line of parts in blue anodizing, so head on over to to check yourself out a set of Klampers and Love Levers, or maybe even a Boxcar stem, so you can get killer blue sky #boxcarviews on your next adventure.

In 2018 it was the Sierra Shredder. Then in 2019 it was the Sierra Klunker. This year we’ve teamed up with our good buddy Tyler at BTCHN Bikes to build a suuuuper custom Bikepacking rig with as many American made components as possible for Sierra Nevada Brewing to show off in their beer garden at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. White Industries, Pass & Stow Racks, Velocity, Outershell, Jones and Ultradynamico will be collaborating with us this time around, and we’ve even managed to pull legendary painter Russ Picket out of retirement. We MIGHT even debut a brand new PAUL product on this bike…so give the #SierraExplorerBike hashtag a look and a follow to watch this beauty getting built up step by step, and to find out how YOU can enter to win the finished project!
📷 Credit: Martin Sundberg
Why bikes?

By the time I grew up bikes were one of the things I knew about and the direction I was headed. I think nobody in the world could possibly like bikes and riding bikes more than I do, and it helped that I wasn’t qualified or educated in anything else.

Bicycles are one of the few machines I understand, and that probably explains why I like the simple ones. If I don’t understand something, it makes me feel stupid, and then I don’t like it. I don’t automatically like things I understand or hate things I don’t, but it’s easier for me to like things I understand, because they make me feel smarter.
What other passions do you have?

From age 11 to 22 it was fly fishing, and it still would be if I could get to good trout country without a car. I used to hitchhike all over the west to get to the streams, but that doesn’t work anymore. So I replaced it with reading, writing, family, dogs, friends.
You may scoff at this but it is my opinion you were the jump starter of the current handmade bike movement, NAHBS et all. It’s been going on for a while now, but for me it got started with the Bridgestone catalogs. Then Rivendell and the lugged made in USA frames really got it going. What do have to say about that?

I scoff a little, but that’s a nice thing to say, Paul. What I did was pick up the ball, or something. When I was getting into bikes from about ’70 on (when I was 16), all the good bikes were steel and lugged, so that got imprinted on me. But even before that, my dad and I fished with bamboo fly rods in the early ‘60s, shot birds with double-barreled shotguns (not pumps or automatics), and he made his own slingshots from tree forks and taught me how. When I was a little kid, I was imprinted with a preference for that kind of stuff, and those things steered me toward steel and lugs. My influences were Richard Sachs, Tom Ritchey, Art Stump, and a few European builders.
You don’t have an orange 57cm XO1 in your basement you’d want to sell? That bike really broke the mold and got a lot of dorks really turned on to something different from pure race bikes. You know, bikes that could just be ridden places without racing or aspiring to racing. For a guy who has small lungs this gave me real purpose and legitimacy in the bigger world of cycling. Thank you.

Well again that’s too much credit, but you’re nice to even think that. No, I don’t have an XO-1, or any of the Bstones that I had a hand in. The XO-1 was super fun to make. I wanted my ideal commute bike. My commute was 26 miles one way, really hilly, mixed twisty roads and fire trails, with only about 3 miles of city riding. So between 9pm and about 11 pm on a night after we’d just finished the ’92 lineup. I was in Japan with Yoshi, Ogawa, Isayama, and Masa—all product-planners for Bridgestone. I asked, “Can we do one more bike that isn’t a road bike or a mountain bike?” They said yes, and it was easy to put it together, because it used all familiar parts. I submitted the geometry about a week later, and they made sure it all worked. They always did that. If I did all by myself all the stuff some people thought I did—like, if I was such a solo act—then those bikes would have been disasters and I’d have been fired.
📷 Credit: William Hsu
What’s the core value of Rivendell?

Safe, comfortable, versatile, nice-looking bikes for normal people, and by that I mean not racers. I don’t like that racing has so much influence on bike fashion and riding attitudes for normal people, and that racers are supposed to be role models or advisors. I raced for six years, I rode like a racer for another 15 after that, some of my best friends have been racers, but I think as an institution it is too powerful, and at the highest levels, has a history of corruption.

As a job—I mean, to be a pro—I can’t imagine anything worse than having to ride hard and sweaty for 20,000 miles a year, in the case of road racers—or to risk my life to sell Red Bull, in the case of mountain bike pros.

So I don’t want our bikes to have anything to do with that. We make bikes for bicycle lovers and UNracers.

Tell us about your best bike ride ever.

Well…I’d like to say it’s something in my back yard, and after that I’d like to say it’s something nobody reading this is familiar with, but the ride I’ve done about four or five times and I look forward to repeating as often as possible, is the Pine Mountain loop on Mt. Tamalpais. It’s the course for what they call the Thanksgiving Day Apetite Seminar, or something close to that…which I haven’t been on and won’t go on because too many people tend to make fun rides into races. The only drag of it, for me, is getting there. I have to take BART, then a ferry, and then it’s about a 75 minute road ride to the trail head.

I like rides with a variety of terrain, good views, no cars, few riders, some grunting, some walking, nice descents, and good views and thunderheads with patches of blue, some drizzle, perfect for good photography. I want a friend or two and camera with Ilford HP-5 film, an orange filter, and I want to shoot all ride long at f4 at 1/250th of a second, or something like that. I want to eat salmon or sardines up by Frisbee Hill, and wash it down with ginger-lime kombucha, then finish it off with a Costco chocolate low-carb energy bar. THAT would be ideal, and it’s happened and will happen again.
Please explain the neckerchief. As a huge fan of the handkerchief I’ve never understood wearing them on the neck.

Well, I don’t always wear one, but two things: I’ve worn one tons since I was 15, then mostly on my forehead. I haven’t combed my hair since I was 13, and a bandana helped keep it under control. I wore and still wear one around my neck, too. They come in handy when you live an outdoor life. I’ve left a dozen or more under rocks over the years, and before that use, it can soak up sweat or you can soak it and wear it. I wouldn’t say I never go anywhere without one, but I do own about twenty of them, and they all get used.
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