Chainguides

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How to choose a mountain bike chainguide: Properly installed, the chain and derailleurs on a mountain bike are incredibly efficient, durable and relatively easy to maintain. When the going gets rough, however, chains can be quick to fall off track, disrupting the mechanical balance and forcing a rider to dismount and put the chain back on. Modern chainguides have all but eliminated the nuisance of a dropped chain. No downhill bike on this planet should be without one, and many other riding styles benefit greatly from a chain security system - dirt jumping, street, slopestyle, freeride, aggressive all-mountain, fourcross and enduro race bikes are all worthy of a chain device. They come in many forms and designs, but the goal of all chainguides remains the same: to keep the chain where it should be.

Chainguides

Types

Chainguides are differentiated by how they mount to the frame and how they protect the chainring.

There are two ways in which chainguides are mounted to frames: bolted on via ISCG mounts or secured to the frame by the bottom bracket. ISCG compatible frames allow for the chainguide to be bolted directly to three threaded holes located around the bottom bracket. Note that there are several ISCG designations, so be sure your frame matches the guide you're looking to purchase. ISCG style chainguides can also be mounted to frames without the necessary holes thanks to special adapters. Bottom bracket style guides are simply kept in place by the bottom bracket's threads.

Protection of the chainring(s) is done in two ways: either with a bashring or a skidplate style guard. Bashrings are the traditional way of protecting the chainring. By simply adding an outer ring larger than the chainrings, impacts are absorbed and the chain is protected. Skidplate style chainguides (also known as "taco" style) use a protective piece of material (plastic, polymer, aluminum etc.) fixed to an inner boomerang. The skidplate does not move, and is located lower than the chainring for protection.

Sizes

Single ring chainguides come in a handful of sizes based on their intended use. Smaller guides (made for 32-36 tooth chainrings) are intended for fourcross riders, dirt jumpers, all-mountain riders, and some freeride applications. Larger guides (36 teeth and up) are designed for downhill bikes and heavier duty freeride bikes. There are also guides that accommodate front derailleurs and multiple chainrings for all-mountain use. Generally, these guides accept a small ring (22-24 teeth) and a middle ring (30-36 teeth).

Materials

Chainguides are usually made from a combination of materials. Boomerangs are made from aluminum or carbon fiber. The top and bottom chainguide parts that enclose the chain are made either from plastic, polymer or carbon fiber and use pulley wheels similar to those found in a rear derailleur. Bashrings and tacos are made from aluminum, plastic, carbon fiber, or polymer, depending on the manufacturers design.

Things To Look For

When purchasing a chain device, the first thing to look at is your riding style, because different types of riding different chainguides. Disciplines like downhill, 4X, and freeride tend to need only one chainring up front. All mountain, trail, enduro and aggressive cross country riders running two chainrings up front can also benefit from the security of a chain device designed to work with a front derailleur. Secondly, check if your frame is equipped with ISCG tabs around the bottom bracket. If the frame is not ISCG compatible, then a chain device secured to the frame by the bottom bracket can be used.

How Much To Spend

Chainguides range in price from $35 to $150.

Guides in the $35-$50 range offer chain security and performance, but may not supply the kind of chainring protection provided by a bashguard or taco equipped system.

The $50-$100 range offers a large selection of chainguides with tacos or bashguard systems. Guides at this price point offer all of the security and protection available but may not use the most lightweight materials found in top of the line guides.

Guides over $100 are top of the line pieces of equipment designed to provide ultimate performance with a minimum weight penalty.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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