Fitting a chain guard to your bike

It’s still fairly uncommon in London to find a bike with chain guards fitted. Yet, they are useful for protecting your clothes and your bike. Hence why they are a common feature on Boris Bikes and pretty much all Dutch style bikes.

You can retro fit a chain guard to your bike. However, it can be a little complicated. Therefore, you may want to opt for using the helmet of a knowledgeable bike mechanic from a local bike shop.

The best option is to choose a full chain case. That completely protects the chain, front chainring and rear cog from the elements, as well as protecting your clothes. However, it’s more likely your bike is equipped for a partial chain case. I outline three good options below.

SKS Chainboard

image

The Chainboard is a strong yet lightweight option by SKS. Thanks to a universal fitting design, it can accommodate both from and rear derailleurs. It also works with hub gears.

You can get the SKS Chainboard in three different sizes, depending on the number of teeth on your cogs. Installation is somewhat painful, so be prepared to put some hours in if you choose to do it at home.

The downside of the SKS Chainboard is of course the looks of it. There’s no escaping that it’s big, plastic and ugly. However, many people couldn’t care less about this.

It is available from Amazon for around £15.

FreeDrive Chain Cover

FreeDrive Chain Cover

The Biologic FreeDrive is a good option for single speed, fixed gear bikes and internal hub gear bikes. It looks a lot sleeker and installation is easier when compared to the SKS Chainboard. It should also go a long way towards protecting your clothes.

The design is unique, in that it moves with your chain.

It is available from Amazon for £19.99.

Herbie Chainglider

image

Another good looking option is by the Herbie Chainglider. It costs around £35 and is available from SJS Cycles.

This is designed for hub geared bikes and you must buy the exact size to fit your specific range of ring and sprocket sizes.

Fortunately, installation is easy as it doesn’t require fixing to your frame and you won’t need any special tools. Unfortunately, this does mean that it will rub slightly on your chain but it shouldn’t be noisy.

Does your bike have a chain guard or would you consider retro fitting one? Leave a comment below!

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

9 Responses to Fitting a chain guard to your bike

  1. Alan Moore 31/01/2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I think it’s a bit mental to have the transmission exposed to the elements – without constant maintenance it just rusts.

    Hub gears and fully enclosed chain every time for me.

  2. Chris Bolton 31/01/2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I’ve into the 3rd year of using the Hebie Chainglider on my hub geared commuter bike and can highly recommend it! Drag and noise are virtually undetectable and are far outweighed by the reduced wear to the drive train, reduced maintenance and oil marked clothes.

  3. DaveM 01/02/2013 at 10:14 am #

    Surley with that Freedrive chain cover you have to take it off every time you want to clean or lube your chain. Maybe you don’t have to clean it so often though otherwise I see it being a bit of a faff.

  4. Rossi 01/02/2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Surely in heavy rain the FreeDrive train would catch moisture and keep it close to your chain at the end of the ride.

    My Dahon has a large guard on the chain ring, effectively a slightly bigger untoothed ring and its works fine

  5. Hein Bloed 03/02/2013 at 7:43 am #

    Just a small correction: It’s Hebie (http://www.hebie.de/Home.1.0.html?&L=1) not Herbie.
    Hebie stands for HEmmelskamp BIElefeld. Hebie was founded in 1886 and is one of the last surviving bike parts manufacturers in Bielefeld – which has been one of centers of bicycle production in the “golden years” of the bicycle in the late 19th and early 20th century in Germany.

  6. Richard Bloomfield 04/02/2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I like the idea of the FreeDrive, but following your link onto Amazon I see that 2 of the 3 reviewers say that it doesn’t work and comes off when riding, which could be dangerous. I think I’ll just stick to tucking my trousers in my sock for now.

  7. Pascal De Wilde 04/03/2014 at 6:37 pm #

    The Freedrive has a bad reputation for collecting water and dirt, which turns into smudge in combination with the lubricant. Looking at the picture you published in this article, this is easy to imagine.
    Your chain is probably better off without it.

    Moreover, I read some review stating it also has a tendency to pour out some of the smudge during its rotation. So maybe even your trousers would be better off without it…

    The Chainglider, although less “sexy”, gets nothing but good reviews on the other hand.
    Highly effective, apparently.

  8. Jas 12/05/2014 at 10:05 am #

    Must agree that for commuting, hub gears and the chain guard that most of these bikes are already equipped with win every time. Since hub gears are also virtually maintenance free, there is no need to disassemble etc

  9. Miles 03/07/2014 at 8:19 pm #

    I run a chainboard guard with a nexus 7 speed hub. It is heavy but was a great solution when I wanted to carry two kids on my bike – one on the crossbar and one on the rear rack. The hub gear allowed me to drop the gearing of the bike by 30 percent very cheaply ( bigger hub cog) and change gears while stationary and the chain guard kept my trousers from getting oily. I commute on the same bike in all weathers for a 12 miles round trip. When I upgrade I will be tempted to fit a chain guard again – I replaced it when an ape cycle mechanic broke the original. It might look out of place on,a Ti Audax but I am too old to care!

Leave a Reply