Tried and tested: chain guides

Keep your chain on track and protect your ring from rocks

Although clutch equipped derailleurs have largely negated the need for chain devices for the everyday rider, for racers or rowdy huckers, the extra security and peace of mind that one affords is invaluable.

Here are six we've ridden and rated.

OneUp Bash

BikeRadar score5/5

OneUp Bash
OneUp Bash

  • Approx £64 / $79

So good… OneUp’s guide fits 28-36t chainrings, including oval rings. Three stoutly built bashguards (and a spare upper guide) are included — weight is just 88g with the medium bash and 80g with the smallest.

Small shims allow the upper guide to be spaced out precisely without removing the cranks, making set-up simple. The upper guide is nice and stiff and keeps the chain on without fail, as well as accommodating the full gearing spread without rub.

No good… The upper guide isn’t tool-free, but that’s about it.

MRP AMg (V2)

BikeRadar score4/5

MRP AMg (V2)
MRP AMg (V2)

  • £130 / $100 / AU$190

So good… The AMg accommodates the full spread of gears easily without rubbing, and keeps the chain in place really well. Even when the chain partially derailed when backpedalling, the stiff upper guide kept enough of it on track to allow us to pedal it back on.

The softer plastic inside the upper guide silences chain noise, making the MRP the quietest option here after the Gravity Grid. Sump-outs are shrugged off without fuss by the stout skid plate.

No good… At 128g it’s fairly heavy for an upper-only guide. Pricey too.

Gravity Grid

BikeRadar score4/5

Gravity Grid
Gravity Grid

  • £83 / $138 / AU$181

So good… Even on bikes with a clutch mech, the Grid’s lower guide noticeably quietens the chain and stops it coming off when backpedalling. This means you can switch the clutch off on Shimano mechs to improve suspension sensitivity.

Construction is solid. Inside the lower guide is a jockey wheel, which is quiet and low on drag. The lower guide can be removed easily if not needed and the upper swung up to remove the cranks.

No good… At 167g it’s the heaviest here, but sans lower guide it weighs 119g. The quick-release pins are fiddly to remove without a pick or screwdriver.

absoluteBLACK Oval Bash

BikeRadar score4/5

absoluteBLACK Oval Bash
absoluteBLACK Oval Bash

  • £72 / $99 / AU$140

So good… This guide accommodates both oval (26-34t) and round chainrings (28-36t). We’ve had no issues with either type, both in terms of clearance and chain retention.

The top guide can be spaced out independently of the backplate and bashguard, making set-up a cinch, and adjusted without tools. At 63g it’s the lightest guide here.

No good… The one-size-fits-all bash leaves unnecessary overhang with smaller rings. Although our guide has stood up well to abuse, it feels a little flimsier than its peers.

Others tested

Blackspire TrailX

BikeRadar score2.5/5

Blackspire TrailX
Blackspire TrailX

  • £60

So good… Blackspire’s bashguard is really solid and took every sump-out we threw at it without flinching. The upper guide covers a large part of the chain and is stiff enough to ensure top derailments are virtually impossible.

No good… The upper guide is a tight squeeze so it requires careful set-up to ensure the chain won’t catch under full suspension compression or at either end of the cassette. Because the bashguard sits quite far outboard, the chain rattles against it over rough ground. At 134g it’s heavy for an upper-only guide.

e*thirteen TRS+

BikeRadar score2.5/5

e*thirteen TRS+
e*thirteen TRS+

  • £100 / $90 / AU$170

So good… E*thirteen’s three-in-one shims make fitting the TRS+ a lot less fiddly than traditional washers, and the tool-free upper guide attachment makes it a cinch to remove the cranks.

Two sizes of bashguard are included, which cover 28-34t rings without any unnecessary weight or overhang. Weight is decent, at 94g with the bigger bash.

No good… The chain rubbed slightly on the bash in the first, second and third gears on our Mondraker Dune test bike. While the chain stayed on through brutal testing, the upper guide feels a bit flimsy.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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