It must be about a year ago now since we first got to see pictures of Shimano’s first foray into the world of chain devices, but for some reason it has taken until now for it to finally become available. They didn’t even have any for us to use at the official Saint launch last summer. So why has it taken so many years for Shimano to make a chain device, and why one they announced one did it then take so long to become a reality? Well I’m not too sure of the answer to the first question, maybe it was because they didn’t feel the market was big enough, but I am pretty sure that the answer to the second question simply comes down to the fact that we saw it before we were meant to. Basically someone somewhere accidentally left a photo of it in a press images folder and once it was out there there was no going back.
Anyway, it has now finally arrived and it appears to be just the same as the original pictures that we saw. Shimano have decided to go down a different route to everybody else and the result is their ‘Modular Chain Device’. The main idea behind it is that you can chose how much bash protection you want to run. Shimano realised that most riders always have the same leg forwards when entering a technical section (the kind of place where you might experience an impact) and so those riders really only need to run a bash ring at a certain point, the rest never comes into play. So the bash ring that comes as part of this chain device only covers about a quarter of your chainring and you simply mount it where you are going to need it. If you’re one of those ambidextrous type riders who can lead with either foot then there’s the option to buy an extra section of bash ring which will then give you all the protection you need, and on the flip side if you don’t feel the need for any bash ring protection then you can also buy this chain device without any.
The guide itself seems to be very well made and there are some great little details like the rubber piece that’s fitted to the lower part of the top guide in order to help reduce noise. All the hardware is also captive, and to adjust and open the top guide requires just a single allen key. Shimano have gone for a slider design at the bottom and this features a replaceable wear plate which produces very little friction or noise. We’ve yet to try one out in the dirt, but the one that was fitted to a show bike did feel incredibly smooth. The lower guide is also sprung loaded and can move out of the way a little should anything hit it. Personally I’m not sure whether it needs it as the lower guide is pretty well tucked out of harms way and it definitely adds extra weight. Still you never know, one day this feature might save a load of damage.
Because of the segmented bash ring it does mean that both the upper and lower guide look a little ‘open’ when the bit of bash ring isn’t covering them. Only time will tell whether or not this is an issue, but first impressions are that it looks kind of wrong somehow. I’m sure though that as long as you have the top guide fully clamped down on the chain so it can’t lift off the ring then it should work a treat despite looking a little odd.
We’ll get this fitted to a bike and let you know how it fairs, but initial impressions are that it’s a very well made piece of kit that’s pretty competitively priced. That is unless you need more than one of the bash ring segments, or you want to be able to easily swap chainring sizes (because you really need different bash segments for each chainring size). Despite the sprung lower guide it’s still very light too.
What do you lot reckon to the idea?