Urban Velo

Paul Components Flatbed Rack

Paul Component Flatbed Paul Component Engineering has been around the block, maybe even a few times, and long ago secured their place in the bicycle history books as one of the premier machine shops making esoteric parts for esoteric riders. Back over a decade ago Paul saw the bandwagon loading up and made the first purpose built mountain singlespeed hubs which most of the day thought was the stupidest thing ever. Some of the old heads may even remember Paul’s days of manufacturing front and rear derailleurs, even if they never did much more than grace some magazine pages and make people yearn for American cnc’d goodies. These days Paul makes a smattering of hubs, brakes, shifter mounts and the pictured Flatbed Rack.

Riding loaded has become a pastime for me, doing it in style has never before been in the equation. The Paul Flatbed Rack has style beyond utility. CNC machined, clear anodized aluminum construction and simple hardwood slats set it apart from most pedestrian offerings, as does the $200 price tag. Mounting is fairly straight-forward assuming your bike has a rigid fork with rack eyelets for the supports and a 1″ or 1 1/8″ headset for the stem tie-in. The stem bracket is pretty fancy for what it is and not only fits the aforementioned steerer tube sizes, but comes with a shim to fit the quill section of a 1″ threaded stem, an especially nice touch since many threaded forks don’t have enough space for the bracket. It all fits together into a fairly rigid package, helped along by the new wider stem bracket to resist twisting that weighs in around 3.5lbs. Due to the angle of the drilling on the curved support bars and the rigid construction of the stem support I could imagine some bike combinations that simply won’t fit this rack for one reason or another, but it went together easily in my case.

With this style comes a cost beyond price; namely a 25lb weight limit. While this is a sound limit for safe handling and not breaking anything, it can pose a problem to people who like to carry more than reasonable. Realistically, if you need to carry both cases of beer you need to find stronger friends.

Carrying boxes on the Paul Flatbed is no problem. Lash it down and go, even if it is oversized and rests on the side rails. It can hold a relatively large box, larger than most baskets or even oversized messenger bags can accommodate. Smaller items and grocery bags work out fine as well with a few bungees to keep them on board. The Flatbed rack is much less intrusive than a large basket when unloaded, but this at times can prove frustrating for casual trips. Just throwing a few items on the Flatbed isn’t possible – everything must be lashed down. Granted, for anything but the shortest trips, items in a basket also need tied down, but not as securely as with the flatbed. Recently I’ve been running errands with a plastic postal bin on the Flatbed to act as a removable basket. I do however wish there were specific loops on the flatbed for tying down to as the sleek lines of the rack sometimes make hooks or straps want to slide around. That said, the Flatbed has carried many an order to the Post Office and facilitated plenty of trouble otherwise.

One rack and basket test I talk about a fair amount is the “pizza and beer” test. Not just beer nor just pizza, but both. Think takeout food, one of my favorite uses of racks in the city. Most baskets with a flat top pass with flying colors with beverages in the basket and the pizza box tied down on top. The Flatbed only passes with the aforementioned bin attached, as you can’t very put anything on top of a pizza box. A minor quibble for most daily use.

The Paul Flatbed is an ideal mix of style and function for those concerned with each. The rack is light, strong and expensive – thats how the equation goes. If you have the coin and desire however, the Flatbed is total class. Bling and utility. Looks good, rides loaded and likes getting dirty. The perfect date.

2 Comments

  1. sumadisSeptember 15, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Long a fan of Paul products, dating back to my first pair of Stoplight brakes, I mounted up a Flatbed on my wife’s townie almost 9 years ago. Here’s some thoughts/observations.

    The joining points at which the tubing forming the top of the ‘basket’ portion come together loosen over time, creating a rattle and a noticeable flex in the framework. Because they are riveted and not bolted or screwed, this can not be tightened or adjusted.

    The mounting screws and spacers at the fork tabs can sheer off or snap under load when confronted with jolts from potholes, rocks, etc.

    Overall, the Flatbed has worked well and is easily repaired (except for the loose rivets) It looks great and doesn’t weigh a ton. It is a bit shallow compared to Wald baskets, limiting what can be carried, but a little creativity goes a long way toward loading it up. In short, I agree – great piece of kit, stands the test of time from our end – almost daily use over the years and we’ve only had to fix the fork tab screws twice. Oh, it can ding the paint on your down-tube too, but that’s easily remedied with some old rubber grips cut down and zip-tied around the appropriate metal edges of the Flatbed.

  2. PaulOctober 1, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Sumadis-

    Wow, 9 years. I am flattered. You were an early adopter. Back then we used aluminum rivits that did loosen over time. We now use stainless steel rivits which are about three times stronger, and don’t have the rattle problem. Several other areas have been beefed up as well.

    When I designed it I took a case of Sierra Nevada (my home town fun juice) and built the basket part around that. Thus it works perfect for that, the original mission of what was then a run of maybe 10 or 20. I’ve tried to kill it many times because it is so labor intensive but it just wouldn’t die so here we are, All the points about carrying anything else are truely valid but can be over come with bunjee cords….mostly. More tabs is an excellent idea.

    For all you bike shop people we finally let QBP pick it up so it will be way more widely available, as long as we can keep up. We’ll try.

    Have a good ride,

    Paul

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