Bionicon C-Guide V.02
Ever find yourself wishing you didn’t constantly drop your chain on those technical descents, or saying “man, I wish I could get a chain guide that doesn’t need ISCG tabs”? If so, you’re in luck! Below, you’ll find a review of the Bionicon C-Guide V.02 – a nifty little attachment you can slap on pretty much any bike – no ISCG tabs required!
Edit: Paul, from Bionicon, sent me an email with some information I would like to pass on to you guys. First of all, I’m missing a zip tie (the third should go in the centre of the mounting tube, but not so tight as to pull the metal against the chain stay). Secondly, he said that the C-Guide typically works best when installed directly in-line with the rim. Mine is pushed back a bit because the rubber Specialized puts on their chain stays (you can see above, there is a layer of white and a layer of black on top of the metal) made it sit a bit funny.
The Good: Effective; Good choice of colours (if you’re into that); Don’t need ISCG tabs; Easily transferable between machines; Light (Bionicon claims it at 18g); Cheap to replace broken bits; easy to do trailside repairs with zip ties if needed.
The Bad: Noise (not surprising); Chain resistance (though there isn’t much); Price (may be an issue for some at $50USD, but the guide could [sort of] be jerry-built with zip ties if you don’t want to spend the money).
The Down and Dirty: Overall, it is an impressively functional little bit of machinery. Small (about two inches from top to bottom), light (somewhere around 18g), and pretty good looking. I was initially worried that the sound of it would be irritating, but between all the various other noises I really don’t notice it. All things considered I would say it’s worth the money, but don’t expect it to work as effectively as a real roller-guide. Aesthetically, it doesn’t make a huge impact on how the bike looks, but it does add a bit of colour if that’s what you’re after. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a chain guide but you don’t have ISCG tabs, this is probably the way to go.
Technically, the device is fairly simple. The guide tube is split along the Z-axis, meaning you can snap it together without removing the chain. The mounting tube is split along the X-axis – essentially a “lid” section you place over the cable routing, and a deeper bottom section connected to the rest of the device (you can see the seams in the first picture, if this doesn’t make sense). The body of the C-Guide is aluminum, anodized in whichever colour you choose. The use of a tubular hanger means the device is free to swing from side to side, meaning you should be able to ride with one, two, or three chain rings without any problems. I have mine installed on a 2×10 setup (long-cage derallier) with two links removed and it works just about perfectly, but I’ve never tried with a 3×10 so I can’t comment on how well that would work.
From a personal level, I’ve been riding with this thing on my Camber for about a month now, and I love it! I ride on Vancouver Island – not quite North Shore, but there are still plenty of lumps and bumps and rocks and roots. Since I put it on, I have yet to drop the chain, and I’ve only snapped it once (though that was entirely my own fault – using a way-too-old master link that had blown out three times on the previous ride). Shifting with the C-Guide installed (using Shimano’s XT deralliers/SLX shifters) does not feel like it has been affected – still the same snappy shifts, front and rear. The Bionicon site shows a video demonstrating the effectiveness of the guide at stopping chain whip – having been on my bike and without access to a decent camera, I can’t comment on how much of a difference the guide has made for me. I can say, however, that chain slap has been almost entirely eliminated. I’ve spent a good twenty hours in the saddle since I put on the C-Guide, and I’ve only heard the chain hit the chain-stay twice – each time while jumping and in a high gear, so the tension was somewhat lower than it normally would be. For those interested in a DIY solution, I made my own out of four zip ties to use on one of the other bikes in the stable. So far it seems to be holding up alright, but A) it’s certainly not the prettiest solution, and B) there is a noticeably higher amount of chain movement, resistance, and noise. I expect the chain will erode the zip tie soon, but only time will tell. It’s only been on two rides as of now, and they’ve both been somewhat gentler than what we normally do. Having ridden on it a few times, I would really recommend against making one like this unless you’re dying to know what a guide does while descending. I have a few ideas in mind to clean it up a bit, I’ll give you guys an update in a couple weeks on what works and what doesn’t!