We've teamed up with one of Australia's best online mountain bike stores; Mountain Bikes Direct to bring you in depth reviews on the latest and most intriguing parts and accessories you can purchase for your bike.
The values shared by the staff at Rotorburn and Mountain Bikes Direct are the same; we have a huge passion for mountain biking! It's our pleasure to be in a great position to test, review and share our in depth details on some great products available from Mountain Bikes Direct.
Item: Shovel downhill carbon chain guide and bash guard
Purchased From: Mountain Bikes Direct (Click here for the product page)
Purchase Price (approx): $219.95
Usage: Downhill mountain biking
Product outline: The intention of any chain guide is to keep your chain from coming off your front chain ring. With the onset of enduro bikes running a small single chain ring up front, we’re now used to seeing some bikes outside of the downhill world running some sort of chain device to keep things in place. This chain guide from Shovel is a pure downhill guide though and no chain will get past the enclosed top guide or off the slotted bottom guide.
The bash guard is a PA plastic that boasts three points of stress relief that take any hits you manage to chuck at it. The backing plate is a raw finish full carbon and is all bolt up with flash titanium hardware. You can run a chain ring from 28 tooth to 36 tooth and it even manages a 34t oval ring. Sweet! You’ve got small amounts of adjustments to suit your chain ring size via the top guide slider and by moving the lower guide to suit.
Bike used: Norco Carbon Aurum
Fitting: First thing to know, the mounting layout is ISCG 05. Check that your frame suits that specific hole centre.
There isn’t anything too dicey about setting up a chain guide correctly and the process repeats itself with basically any tab mounted guide. Remove your drive side crank and while you’re at it, pull the crankset out and clean and grease your bottom bracket and cranks. Job done. The Shovel chain guide comes with some fantastic titanium hardware to totally compliment the already impressive carbon finish of the guide. It also comes complete with several shims or spacers that will go against the tab mounts on your frame then you sit the guide over those. They create the correct spacing you’ll need so the guide runs the chain in the centre of the top guide. If you got that running in the centre when it’s all tight then the bottom guide will run true too. It really is that simple; get the right spacing for the chain to run in the middle of the top guide by using the right width spacer. Tighten the guide bolts up when you get it in a spot where it won’t touch the guide in any gear and also keep in mind that the chain will slap around a little more when your suspension is active so leave some room above the top of the chain so it isn’t near the top of the guide.
Whack the cranks back on with some fresh grease and you’re all set.
Pros – The finish is exceptional! The raw carbon plate looks unreal and the titanium hardware is a real treat. It’s bloody light too, only 95 grams in total! The lower bash plate is solid enough that you’re gonna get some mileage out of it. You get stickers in the box too!
Cons – Like any “out of the box” part, it can sometimes do with some personal touches. In this instance, I run a strip of sticky Velcro around the inside of the top guide to reduce the sound of the chain potentially slapping the guide. Thats an old trick I learnt from Steve Smith. #longlivechainsaw
On the trail: It’s quiet, it’s massively reliable, it is easy on the eyes and it’s one less thing on your mind in the complex world of downhill. Thats how I like my downhill rides; I just want my gear to run smoothly so I can concentrate on the good times and avoiding those near death defying experiences. So far, this guide has been rides and equal to some of the dearer guides.
Summary: Lets be honest, you don’t want to think about your chain when you’re riding so ideally, you want your guide to be quiet, you want the chain to stay on and you want to know the bash guard is stopping anything from making a mess of your chain ring and chain. Not only does the Shovel carbon chain guide do that with ease, it does it in style! The carbon finish will match any bike you bolt it too, it never fails to catch your eye.
Mountain biker’s are pretty fussy. Some of us can’t justify spending that bit extra on a product that does the same thing as a part that is a bit cheaper but at the same time we all juggle the idea that maybe it’s worth spending a few bucks extra if something is of a known quality. Shovel is a relatively new name to our game in Australia and I am glad I found it. I’ve had some catastrophic failures on chain guide’s that have ended my race or weekend of good times so I’m a real stick in the mud when it comes to making sure a chain guide is gonna do it’s job. The Shovel chain guide is pretty impressive and has kicked the butt of some guides I’ve had by a fair margin. The tolerances in the machining of the guide are very minimal meaning you get a very precise fitting and there’s no short cuts taken in the quality of the build. I like that.
The parts that bolt on are all available as spares should you need them too. All in all, this is a great product to get your hands on and should very much be considered if you’re in the market for a new chain guide. Spend those extra few bucks and get the quality product that will keep your bike’s weight down, it’ll work faultlessly and looks damn fine.