20 November, 2008

Samples Galore and The Guarding of Chains

Perhaps we're a bit obsessed with product samples. It gets pretty expensive having all this stuff FedExed from every corner of the world, but the idea is that we'll find great products that no one else imports, or great factories to make our products.

Here are a few sample chain guards from Europe that we recently ordered. Tom has been madly fitting these to various bikes. In this case, results have been less than promising.

The top model works with a 52t, or smaller, big chain ring and, at least in theory, a front derailleur. The lower one does too, but I don't like the slots. What we find with the upper model is that it doesn't work well with many modern cranks. These guards are designed for the sort of crank where the arm sits on the spider, not the modern type where the spider seems to flow out of the arm.


Here we have a chrome and an anodized model for single chain rings, but at $50 they may be a bit too dear. On the other hand, the full circle does a great job of protecting your cuff. What do you think of these?



These steel chain cases are neat. They must be painted and will fit only certain cranks on certain bikes. The thing that looks like a huge washer pops out for installation. And yes, they are closed on the back. I get a migraine just thinking about technical support for these.



The two models below offer the best hope. At around $25 they are priced right. The top model will work with a 46t big ring and a triple crank according to the manufacturer, but getting it lined up exactly right is difficult. The bottom version is for single speeds and internally geared hubs. It's actually shaped like half a tube, so it covers the chain on both sides. It's steel, but pretty light.


All of these are made for European city bikes with very long chain stays. We would have to have shorter versions to fit the sort of bikes Americans ride. I don't know yet what the costs and minimum quantities would be if we commissioned shorter versions.

Do any of these appeal to you?

46 comments:

Hank Graber said...

The very last one for single speeds looks very nice. Functional minimilist design and the fluting is a nice flourish without being to much. It would look good on a retro or modern bike.

If you are going to go to the trouble to make a custom version maybe you could accommodate a front derailleur. I'm thinking the stock one would be very attractive to those making custom city porteur bikes. With a 9 or 10 speed cassette in the rear (or a Rohloff 14) a single ring up front is more then adequate for most locales.

dr2chase said...

I like the full chaincase, though I do understand how there might be US fit problems. I rescued an old Raleigh from the trash a couple of years ago, it has a full chain case (I had to construct a plastic pie plate) and it's nice -- no grease on me, no sand on the chain.

Picture here.

Hal said...

I agree with Hank, the last one looks nice. I'm not a big fan of the others, although they are probably better at protecting the chain from crud.

hal.

Anonymous said...

to be really honest, all those gizmos do for me is make me grateful for trouser clips.

michael white

Tom said...

I mounted all these guards on a bike with a Sugino Messenger crank and a 9 speed cassette on the back. None of them worked- either interference from the crank, or the chain rubs against it as it goes through the cog range.

In my opinion, chainguards are designed for a single chainring/ single cog combination. Any other spec (5 to 10 cogs in the back or a double/triple up front makes the guard have a lot of compromises and/or custom fitting involving tin snips, a hacksaw and progressively larger mallets until it's 'aligned' properly. To get a chainguard to fit on a broad range of bikes - what I like to call a 'commodifiable spec'- is a feat of engineering on the factory side, and a ton of mechanical patience on the customer side.

We will continue to work on this but it's gonna take some time. we are adapting chainguards with an intended purpose of being speced on low end European and Asian city bikes and hacking them to make em fit on all the nice bikes you guys ride.

It's exciting and frustrating. It makes us earn ride home and the glass of Guiness.

reverend dick said...

No.

Hank Graber said...

Hadn't thought about the chainline moving across the cassette. Sounds like a one size fits all chainguard is not practical unless it's very short.

How about a nice silver chainring type guard that mounts to the outside ring. I just stripped the black ano off of a cyclocross chain guard and polished it to use for that purpose. Maybe that would be more practical for a broad range of bikes.

Gunnar Berg said...

Oh, quit fooling around with all this stuff and get us what we all crave for - hammered aluminum to match Honjo fenders.

Seriously guards are all cool because they are so anti-racerboy. I like the slots, like the chrome.

patates frites said...

The $25 model for a 46-tooth triple in the last picture is what I'm looking for. I hope you can get it. My bike does have the long chainstays (Koga-Miyata Road Gentleman).

Anonymous said...

The only way I'd mess with a chain guard is if it was designed to mate with a specific frame set and drive train. Otherwise I'm okay with rolling up my pant leg.

Joel said...

Chain guard/cases not only protect the rider's clothes, they protect the crank, chain and rear cluster.

If you ride in all weather and don't want to give your good bike the season off (and why should you? if the owner is able to go out, the bike ought to!) it makes sense to keep as much grit and grime off the important components as possible.

nv said...

The last one by a country mile.
nv

Gunnar Berg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Why not the Hebie Chainglider? While yet another case of only fitting the "single" category, they seem at least a bit versatile.

And, nobody else is importing them (yet)...

Anonymous said...

I used to have a Guibilato with a (factory) chainguard, designed for a double crank. Man I was sorry that bike broke at the hole drilled for the internal wiring at the head tube junction. The chain guard was a really nice part of that bike. I still have the guard (and the matching fork, complete with bottle generator braze on) for that special commuter project one day. The guard is candy apple red and chrome, and pretty in an early 80s Italian tacky kind of way. Just the way I like my women.
mb

Eoghan said...

The bottom one for sure, by a country mile.

david_nj said...

The $50 anodized one for sure. It would be a heck of a lot nicer with a polished finish, but that's the best shape, in my experience, to allow both easy fitment and good clothes/chain protection.

The only issue with a "one size fits all" chainstay, IME, is the different chainstay lengths on different bikes. Some thought should go into the rear support hardware so as to be both elegant and allow for considerable variety in lengths.

My $.02.

Anonymous said...

another vote for the last one. I wonder what range of rings it will cover though. If it works on a 52, will it be too big for the 40 I'm planning on my internal-hub city bike?

Aaron

Anonymous said...

For toy bikes--bikes used for a jaunt to a cafe on sunny Saturday morning--the chainguards are nice. For real bikes--bikes used for commuting in all weather--a true chaincase is the way to go.

OK, perhaps I'm overstating it. But I live in a snowy place where they salt the roads in winter, and having a real chain case really helps.

superfreak said...

forget about the guarding of chains, what are you guarding under the upsidedown business cards? thx superfreak

JMeiser said...

I'd rock the Peruzzo model at the bottom as well. I know of at least 1 production bike that will be ending up on in the US this spring...

cheesy said...

I have a full chaincase on an Indian built roadster and once you get past the initial setup and adjustment, you forget it is there.

The bottom chainguard looks eerily like the one I pulled off a 70s italian folding bike and painted to match the headtube on my Bleriot.

I could go for either of those.

Joel said...

It's not really feasible to stock the chaincase because it won't easily go on a bike. But if you could design affordable VO city bikes so that they'd would work with the chaincase it would be awesome.

Tex said...

I really like that last one, too.

takomacommuter said...

I commend you for taking on this challenging project. I have been fruitlessly searching for a metal chain guard for a triple. I would be more than willing to go with something like the second to last model, with the understanding that the guard and mounting hardware merely provide a starting point for some necessary customization on my part...

Any chance you could at least import a plastic chain guard for a triple, similar to one that came OEM on my mum's Ketler upright? It works great, and for that I can handle the smokey plastic look...

chacher said...

as others have said, my first reaction was "ooo, ooo, the last one"

Boris said...

You're missing many of the better chainguard manufacturers with the above.

Manufacturers of excellent chainguards and chaincases:

Hesling
De Woerd
Herrmann's
SKS
Hebie

Hebie makes an adjustable chaincase that accomodates triple front derailluers and upto a 48t big ring.

SKS recently introduced somthing similar, and Herrmann's has been making something like that for a while.

As for actually servicable chaincases, Hesling and De Woerd put everyone else to shame. The Hesling on my Trek L200 is a pleasure to use and keeps my drivetrain maintenance-free.

Cottered Crank said...

Good to see you guys attacking the chainguard situation. I, too, would be willing to take on the risk of buying a chain guard that has a shot at working with a triple, and doing the fitting myself. I've been experimenting with chainguards over the years, and it's a pain to get one on any bike without some plain dumb luck. Metal fenders are fiddly and sometimes uncooperative, but chaingaurds are usually just frustrating. I have been considering plastic ones, because they can be painted, but I haven't got there yet.

keithwwalker said...

I like the full chain guard, but I run internal hubs, so they wouldn't be a problem, unless the chainstay is too short for the guard (actually I would like a bike with longer chainstays!).

The last one is nice too, perhaps it could be engineered in conjunction with a chainring (bash) guard in 46t and 52t versions.

Regarding chainring guards, TA Specialites makes the F15 guard, which has the best polish I have ever seen on a chainring guard.

An alternative, is to contact these folk and see if they still do custom guards. It seems like they stopped 2 years ago, but the site is still up and I wonder:

CT Chainring

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a german style chain cover that uses a bb mount, but the long model is definitely going to be a problem with chain line, chain stay length and the issue of seat stay mount. Did you order any seat stay chain cover clamps? Those twisted clamps might also be usefull on older 3 speeds with long chaincovers.

In europe SKS and Shimano sell a bb with a thinner drive side flange for bikes with bb mounted chaincovers and chaincases. Do you think you'd need that? I've never tried retrofitting a bb mounted chaincover to a touring frame.

Perhaps the bb mount is a possible solution to the mounting hardware problem. If you have a short french style chaincover that used the bb mount, you wouldn't have to worry about stocking various and usually inadequate clamps, but you might want to stock european bottom brackets. If the chaincover was shiny and the frame and bb mount black, it might not look too bad.

Another thing we need is a chaincase with an ever wider opening or a VO crankset that would work better with your chaincase. You shouldn't expect customers to have to use TA cranks or find NOS sugino AT or super maxy stuff to use the VO chaincase.

James

nordic_68 said...

+1 on the trouser clip. I prefer elastic fabric.

Charlie said...

Boris,

Thanks for the great list of chaincases! I like De Woerd a lot. Despite the little British flag icon, there's no English on their site but it's not to hard to find the page of pictures of chaincases I like the first and last ones best.

angelo trivelli said...

I like chainguards and I think that if you use a single cog/chainring bike as your utility bike it makes sense to have one. I agree that it would be a major pain in the butt to deal with derailleurs when mounting chainguards.

What I would like know is why hasn't anyone invented a chain guard that "rides with" (is mounted to) the derailleurs? After all, the chain path is defined by front and rear derailleurs, it makes sense to mount it on those rather than the frame?

Anonymous said...

the last one is great for the reason hank mentions so succinctly.

i'd also go for a full chain case.

i'm an all season (including snowy, salty winters) city rider and ride either single speed or internal hub. derailleurs haven't served me well when completely caked with snow.

a chain case would go a long way to provide an alternative to nearly daily winter drive train clean ups.

sheila Lovelace said...

I like the top two, they enhance the bulge in my lycra. The other ones are cheap looking and sort of boring. Afterall its all about the glamour index.

lee.watkins said...

Full chaincase is the way to go, with internally-geared hubs or single-speed/fixed.

What I want to see is a much higher quality full chaincase stainless steel that matches the zeppelin, hammered, Le Paon, Crocodile, styles etc.

With my name and optional motto laser engraved on it.

I'm still hoping you will consider reproducing the Brooks leather full-chaincases with metal snaps pictured in their (very old) catalogues (available on their site). I imagine the same design would work with heavy waxed black canvas or some other nautical canvas-like material they use to cover boats.

reverend dick said...

I like the sound of that.

patrick said...

i would just love a chainguard for my derailleur bike. When I think about it too much I come to Tom's conclusion-- that what I should really do is get an internally geared hub and a proper chaincase. But saving that, something that could handle an 8-spd cassette and a small front double chainring setup would be great. The multi-gear option in the last shot would be great if it worked on my Kogswell. I run a triple but minus the big ring, so I have some hope that it could work.

And I like the half-tube singlespeed version in the last photo, too-- might have to get one for the fixed-gear. I tried one of your aluminum chaincases but the q-factor on my track crank is so tight that it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

The very last one looks awesome.

Anon of florida said...

How are chain guards and chaincases attatched to the BB? I understand that the actual guard attatches to some sort of bracket that somehow attatches to the BB. How is the bracket fixed to the BB?

Is it possible to hack together a similar bracket for an American hub shell?

Tom said...

One Piece Crank bottom brackets have the cups pressed in. There's not much room on the shoulder of the cup to accommodate a 1-3mm thick piece of sheet metal. The BB mount is part of the problem. There is hardly any side to side adjustment to clear the chainring and crankarm as it rotates.

patates frites said...

Tom,

do you think it would be possible to cut out that BB mounting plate and install these guards using the hardware you sell here:

http://www.velo-orange.com/chandchha.html

Tom said...

patate frites:
It is possible.
It's looking like a standard off the shelf and simple chainguard is not so simple to execute. Especially when there is a desire for it to work with a front derailleur.

Anonymous said...

For us old geezers, equipping our bikes with chainguards would save us from bending over at least once in a trip. Hope you'll consider carrying a good selection.

Brian said...

Hmm. These look OK, but I think that if you're going to go to the trouble of installing a chainguard on a bike that didn't come with one, you probably want to go the whole way and use a fully-enclosed chaincase. The steel one here looks cool, but it'd be pretty heavy, like the old Raleigh chaincases. What I'd want is a lightweight plastic chaincase that'd work with a fairly large front chainring (say, 46 teeth or larger) and a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed in the rear. Put the above on an '80s Japanese touring frame, and you'd have my dream commuter. Now, when is someone in the USA going to start importing the Hesling line of chaincases?

Anonymous said...

I would like a full oil metal chain guard.

Sam