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?