Paul Component Engineering Klampers and Canti Lever Long Term Review – By Mark Peterson
Ed – Hi, Folks! Apologies to Mark for the delay in getting this story posted. He sent this review a few weeks back and I am happy to finally get it posted for you all to read. Thanks, Mark, for the story! ~ Sven!
It was a beautiful summer full of adventures and great trails. I have been riding daily on a couple of bikes that I have installed matching Paul Klampers, Canti Lever brakes and Thumbies. One bike is a full suspension 26” mountain bike that I have customized for trail commuting and the other is my pride and joy, the most Awesome bicycle I have ever owned, my 2013 Surly Moonlander named Blue Moon. I love this bike and from the beginning I have had a vision of what I wanted it to be. Finally, with the addition of Paul Components my Fat bike is almost perfect (for me) and has made my dream fat bike into a reality. I rode these two bikes over 1000 miles this summer, in all kinds of weather and in a bunch of different kinds of terrain that helped me get very familiar with my Paul Klamper – Canti Lever set up. This also allowed me to compare how two different bikes in many varied situations are impacted by the upgrade of these components. I have loved every second of the experience and I hope to share a little bit of that with you and maybe, just maybe, help you decide if Paul Components are exactly what your bike needs and deserves.
At the beginning of April 2017 Paul sent me the coolest brake set-up I have ever seen. From the moment I opened the box and pulled out the made in the U.S.A. goodies, I was taken by their crisp precise design and vibrant color. The color, which was custom at the time, became known as limited edition 2017 blue and it knocked my socks off! If you are familiar with me you know that I am obsessed with anodized parts and I have seen all kinds of variations in quality from around the world over the years. These parts had the finest quality of anodized finish I have ever seen. I installed two sets of Paul Klampers, Canti Lever brakes and Thumbies on a couple of my bikes. The installation was one of the easiest upgrades I have ever done. Everything mounted up just like in the Paul installation video, easy peasy lemon squeezy.
I rode the freshly installed Paul components on my local trails a couple of times to get an initial impression. Right from the beginning it felt like the Klampers were stronger than my previous brakes but that might have been attributed to my anticipation and excitement, but the fact is that they immediately felt more powerful. The break-in process was easily completed in 3 rides or about 30 miles and I started to focus in on the fully bedded strength and feel of the Canti Lever and the Klampers working together. At first, the power of the brakes was a bit deceiving. On several occasions I found myself approaching a corner hot to see how the brakes modulated through the corner only to find that I had unintentionally scrubbed off more speed than I wanted to before entering the corner, leaving me rolling gently through the rest of the curve. After having the same kind of experience several times on the same ride I started to really think about what was happening. I was grabbing the brakes just like I always do but the Paul Klampers, matched up with the Canti Lever, were delivering the power so smoothly that my typical brake application was too much. After some understanding I began to trust the brakes and ironically use them less. I love how they give me confidence to really let loose into my local trails knowing that the right brake feathering will do. Perhaps even more importantly when the need arises to come to a very quick stop Paul Klampers are scary good. This is an incredibly valuable attribute to have on your bike when riding sketchy exposed terrain and also it is good not running into other people. The Klampers allow me to dive the bike deeper into the corner before starting to check off speed but that is just when the magic starts, the modulation. I am a fan of cable actuated brakes for their simplicity and reliability and I have ridden a lot of different makes and models and they all have a kind of mystery mush feel. The Paul Klampers and Canti Lever do not have a spongy feel nor is it harsh. The Paul Klampers have a perfectly engineered feel & I needed to see why. This is when I became very interested in how these brakes are actually assembled and how they work.
As I looked at the exploded isometric of the 30 parts that make up the Klamper I started to understand why they feel the way they do. In my opinion, it has everything to do with how the movement / actuation are transferred from part to part. To get a deeper perspective I contacted my friend Travis at Paul. I met Travis last year at NAHBS and he is a supper nice easygoing guy. I asked Travis tell me more about the Klampers and their features.
“Klampers can be completely disassembled with nothing but an Allen key set if you need to service them on the fly or in a campsite deep in the woods. That being said, they really shouldn’t need to be serviced for years, as there are no hydraulic seals to replace, and with the pistons made to such a high tolerance (and then heat treated), you shouldn’t need to do anything but replace the pads and adjust them (easily, by hand) as the pads wear. You can swap out the actuator arms from Long pull to Short pull with only one Allen key, and many of our customers have moved them from a mountain bike to a cross bike (and back again), getting their money’s worth. They’re made to such high tolerances that they usually take 2-3 rides for everything to wear in and loosen up a little, but after that, you should feel killer power and modulation, and like most good bike parts, not think about them, and focus on the enjoyable parts of your ride. Do they stop as well as the top hydraulics out there? Not quite, but they stop REALLY GOOD, and for many people, the fact that they’re made in the USA to last a lifetime and be user serviceable is totally worth it.” – Travis T
I did a significant amount of commuting by bicycle this year. Some of it has been on the road and some has been on dirt. When I take the road home there is a huge hill on my commute that allows me to go fast. Coming down this hill 40 – 45 mph is easy. On a couple of occasions I wanted to see how the brakes would do decelerating from fairly high speeds to a complete stop. I about soiled my pants when the rear tire came off the ground but the buttery smooth modulation of the Klampers brought me to a swift stop. I think this experience with the Klampers was one of the most powerful demonstrations of their braking prowess. I have ridden 99.9 % of this summer using Paul’s Klampers, Canti Levers and rain or shine they have been 100% dependable and by far the best performing and feeling mechanical brakes I have ever had the pleasure of testing. I am very enthusiastic to see how the performance translates to the white stuff. Next spring I will round out my review of the Klampers, Canti Levers, and Thumbies with a look back at one year of Paul Components and how they have performed over time. I hope you all have a wonderful Fat Biking Winter. Mark.