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Fresh Produce: Blackspire DER Chainguide

16:14 13th November 2012 by Ed Haythornthwaite

Blackspire look like they could well be back in the game with this new chain device…

Blackspire used to be a pretty big name in the world of chainguides but then they seemed to stand still whilst everyone else moved on. This ‘DER’ chainguide though sees them right back in the thick of the action. There’s not really anything that we haven’t seen before, it’s more a case of a combination of features from the other leading chainguides on the market.

The whole thing is based around a CNC machined 6061 T-6 aluminium backplate which feels very stiff despite its minimalist looks. In this shot you can see that the ‘Beavertail’ bashguard is integrated in the way that it extends right the way back and actually forms the inner part of the lower guide. The bashguard feels like it is made from a slightly different material to the rest of the device, it’s definitely not quite as hard. It gives us the impression that it should help absorb impacts and resist shattering. All the hardware (nuts etc) on the rear is also captive so setting up and adjusting this thing should be a doddle and you won’t be scrabbling around in the dirt to find that crucial part.

The lower guide is of the ‘slider’ design rather than the jockey wheel one. There is definitely less to go wrong with this design (there’s actually not a single moving part on this chain device), and when done correctly you can end up with something very quiet that creates minimal friction. Blackspire reckon their proprietary polymer produces just such results whilst laster longer than elastomeric versions. The shape of it looks good too, nice and smooth.

At the top you’ll find a guide much like any other, but it is noticeably shorter and unlike the main competition it isn’t joined together at the most rearward point. Whether that will be an issue only time will tell, but we’ve got a feeling that as long as it is set up right it shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever. As you can see there’s a good bit of sculpting to help reduce noise and friction as the chain enters the guide.

The guide will be available to fit either 32-36t or 36-40t chainrings, plus you get a choice of black, red, blue or white finish. Of course there’s also the option of ISCG or ISCG 05 mounting, and if you haven’t got either of those on your frame then Blackspire also make a bottom bracket adaptor for the ISCG 05 version. The 32-36t ISCG 05 one that you see before you tipped our scales at a very competitive 147g.

Overall we can’t see why this chain guide shouldn’t work as well as any out there and we like its simplicity. The fact that it’s also pretty competitively priced, especially considering that it’s made in Canada rather than the Far East, should mean that once again Blackspire becomes a common sight out on the hills. What do you lot reckon?

Price: £99.99

  1. john

    Wow I wonder where they got the idea for this guide….

    1. Matt

      The same place where Straightline and co. got their idea from: Industrial chains and Dirtbikes….
      Its not a new invention!

  2. Alex

    I have been using this chain guide for a few months now on my Norco Shore Freeride bike.
    with a 32 and after a while with a 36 single front chain ring.

    its light, quiet, the bash guard took a couple of hits and remained intact , and of course the price was good .
    I would like to recommend this chainguide to anyone who’s on the market for a guide .

  3. Paco Loco

    Looks good but I would not call £100 for a guide with no moving parts “competitively priced”

  4. ollie

    all the chainguide manufacturers are making a huge profit on these guides that they sell for 80+, its a wonder people still buy them!

    i actually made a chainguide as a uni project last year, CNC alloy backplate very similar to this, a polymer cage, like this blackspire one, and a nylon roller.

    the cnc programme was a piddle and i managed to do most of it manually, as its only a 2d profile with a a bit of pocketing and drilling. same story with the cage. i bought a coupe of bearings for less than a fiver, and bolted it togther. this is just the same but anodised and a bit more expensive plastic

    cant see what justifies this price tag at all

    1. Ed

      Ollie, after making your own chain device I can totally understand why you’ve come to that opinion, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that the manufacturers are raking it in. For starters you can knock around 40% off straight away cos that’s the kind of margin that a shop will be making, you’ve then got the cut that the distributor is taking (much smaller than the shop, but it still adds up), the import duty, the shipping, and then after all that you’ve got the amount that the manufacturer is getting. In the case of this chain device I would be amazed if Blackspire are even getting £50. Before you even start thinking about the cost of materials for the actual item you have to think about staff costs, building rent etc, insurance, business rates/taxes, machinery (did you pay for the CNC that made yours?), R&D, marketing, packaging, etc, etc, etc. If you have ever run a business yourself you’ll know that the list is pretty much endless, and all this has to covered by the cost of your products. Finally you have the cost of the product itself, and I don’t think this one is as cheap to make as you might first think. For starters there’s actually a fair bit of intricate machine work that goes into each of the captive bolts. You’ve then got various polymer pieces that are moulded. This requires expensive tooling. And last but not least you have the aluminium back plate. It might not take a huge amount of machine time to produce this but it still takes time and will involve a fair chunk of waste. That’s not ideal when quality aluminium doesn’t actually come that cheap these days.
      So yes, they will of course be making a profit, but it won’t be anywhere near what you are thinking it will be. At the end of the day all these companies are hell bent on trying to get your custom from their competition (and in most areas of our sport there is a huge amount of competition), and so if there’s any way that they can sell their product for less than the competition they will do. There’s no point in trying to get a massive profit on a product if nobody is going to buy it because it’s too expensive.
      If you don’t want to be paying for all this stuff then I suppose you need to find a talented man in a shed who’s got a load of old machinery that hasn’t cost him anything, and he’s willing to sell direct to you for cash in hand.
      And sorry for the massive reply but it just annoys me a bit when people say things that simply aren’t true. I know for a fact that the vast majority of bike companies, particularly the smaller ones like Blackspire, are run by people who love the sport and they do what they do purely for that reason. They just want to make great stuff, and as long as they manage to make a living at the same time that’s enough for them. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some pretty big names in the industry over the years, many of whom you’d probably think ‘are raking it in’, but the reality is that they’re living in average houses and having to drive around in beat-up old cars like the rest of us.

      1. Betsie

        Yes the tooling can be expensive for plastics (unless they make the tooling in house, and the tolerances will not be that tight).
        For quantity manufacture, then the price of the plastics will not be very expensive (excluding the initial tooling).
        Plastics can be much much cheaper than people think they are!

    2. Ed

      Oh, and if you look here… http://dirt.mpora.com/news/retro-products-chain-devices.html you’ll see that prices have got far better than they used to be.

      1. ollie

        yes a good point well made there, i agree once the profit has gone back to the company it isnt that much, once materials, time and equipment have been accounted for.

        i was probably a bit irrational in my first post, but i often look at things and think it is too much for what it is

      2. Matt

        okay, did you pay for using the workshop, the CNC-machine, the other manual mills and lathes and the material? How long did you work on it? how much is your hourly rate? is it close to 80$-100$ like a trained machinist?

  5. smith

    every one complains about the price of things these days. i agree prices appear over inflated but i bet profit margins are not as much as you would think. raw materials, the machines to make the stuff has to be bought, payed for, the man who operates the machines needs a wage, the packaging it comes in, shipping and custom duties, advertising and marketing, warehouses and business premises but to name a few of the overheads. I’m pretty sure the company directors are not driving around in bentleys and pissing moet from the profit margins they see from their products.

    1. Ed

      You just proved i didn’t need to use so many words! Short and to the point…and correct!

    2. Rodney


  6. Paco Loco

    Compare it to the cost of other bike parts. A rear derailleur for example. Loads of moving parts, tooling costs, and all the other associated costs you’ve mentioned above, yet still much cheaper than this guide which in comparison is extremely simple.

  7. Kimmer

    Paco, ever heard of economies of scale? How many of these will get sold compared to the incredible number of rear mechs that Shimano or Sram will produce.

  8. Billybob

    As with hopes pedal, more instant moaning about pricing with no real thought.

    I expect most moaning are not even potential customers….

    As i said before, stop buying from these guys, they will stop designing new and better products and the taiwanese will have nothing to copy to sell on to superstar etc a year later….. see how great your products are then!

    As ED stated – they dont make a fortune, direct selling items from taiwan actually bears a greater profit, but it cant all go this way, think about it.

  9. Howie

    Never mind the moaning.. Where can you buy one?

  10. derm

    A typical blackspire product: Building something that others can do better for a high shitty price.

  11. Craig B

    Whilst reading the article and ignoring all the blathering from the masses – I kind of like it.
    I get the simplicity of the fixed roller – technology which I ran on my Yamaha TY80 28 years ago I will add.
    I like that I don’t require a bash.
    As I suspect that they have to pay for labour, CNC/milling machines, rent, etc… I think the price is fair. THERE I SAID IT!!
    Wait a few femto-seconds and I am sure CRC will have a sale on it. ;)

    1. Craig B

      In fact, having just looked at some other pics and reviews I am going to buy one.

  12. dirkentstein

    It’s not worth a ton. End of story.

    Any old ballbag could knock out a load of them on a ragged out old miller.

    1. Craig B

      i. call. your. bluff.
      go on then.

  13. Craig B

    CRC has a sale on and they are sold out. Guess the people vote with their wallets. All this crapping on it and it’s a sell out – How odd…?


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