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The virtue of Paragon; turn on, tune in, dropout…

Checking out Lance’s bike a little while ago reminded me that Paragon Machine Works are folks you should definitely know about – they’re probably the most innovative and best known US manufacturer of titanium frame parts. Famous for their sliding dropouts, that let you control chain tension on a singlespeed, they also produce a range of bottom bracket shells, headtubes and other frame finishing kit like bosses and cable guides.

Starting off with something a little more conventional – Quiring have used one of their standard dropouts to produce this very clean hardtail with chainstay mounted brake calliper:

Quiring hardtail frame featuring a super neat Paragon dropout with integrated brake mount.

Quiring hardtail frame featuring a super neat Paragon dropout with integrated brake mount.

But they’re more famous for this, their signature sliding dropout. With the brake caliper mounted on the dropout it’s easy to adjust the chain tension without any additional faffing. Given the range of adjustment you could also experiment with the chainstay length if you wanted to tweak the handling…

The classic Paragon adjustable sliding dropout - with the brake calliper mounted on the dropout adjusting chain tension is easy...

The classic Paragon adjustable sliding dropout – with the brake calliper mounted on the dropout chain tension adjusting is easy…

There’s more than one way to skin a cat though – check out their ‘rocker’ adjusting dropout. There’s slightly less range of adjustment so they’re just used for taking up chain slack, but they’re super neat and the integral brake mount is a nice touch:

On a Triton bike: the rocker dropout with very neat integral brake mount.

On a Triton bike: the rocker dropout with very neat integral brake mount.

For those people wanting the ultimate in versatility Paragon produce the ‘Poly’ composite dropout. You can chose your axle standard or fit a Rohloff hub and have your choice of brake, derailleur or rack mounts too!

Because of the split design of the frame mount it’s also belt drive compatible, although you’ll need to use an eccentric bottom bracket because chain tensioning is one thing that isn’t currently on the list.

This Tomac 'crosser made by Saratoga shows off the Poly dropout quite nicely. If you look closely you can see the join in the dropout that lets you fit a belt.

This Tomac ‘crosser made by Saratoga shows off the Poly dropout quite nicely. If you look closely you can see the join in the dropout that lets you fit a belt.

And finally, just when you thought there couldn’t be anything else to add to the world of dropouts…

Paragon’s latest offering is the toggle drop. Designed for use with a custom Shimano 12mm thru axle it’s based on their rocker dropout and uses a toggle and link mechanism to allow quick tension adjustment and wheel removal. Personally I think they might have jumped the shark slightly with this one. It looks like it does what it was designed to do but you can’t help thinking we might have made things a little more complicated than they need to be 😉

Moots show bike with the Paragon Toggle dropout; easy to adjust but just too complicated?

Moots show bike with the Paragon Toggle dropout; easy to adjust but just too complicated?

And just in case you wanted a closer look at that one (how many parts?):

...don't let one of those nuts roll under the fridge ;-)

…don’t let one of those nuts roll under the fridge 😉

You can’t deny the appeal of an adjustable dropout, it’s neater than running a tensioner for singlespeed and certainly easier than swapping your frame over to support a new axle standard! Don’t forget though, when you introduce extra elements into the dropout area you increase the potential for movement and creaks, even with parts made to high tolerances.

Hopefully that little insight into what’s available might have helped you with the dropout choice for your next frame. Just be aware that many of the Far Eastern suppliers might be working with ‘Paragon inspired’ parts rather than the 100% genuine article so do check first. Most times this will be fine but I’ve heard tales of sliding dropouts that won’t stay put or suffer from really bad creaking. Unless you’re absolutely sure you’re getting the real thing it might be safer to to with a more simple design!

Have you had a frame made in the Far East that you’d like to share with the world? Do drop me a line via the contacts page and let me know 🙂