A while ago I wrote about my plans to fit a Hebie Chainglider to my Bullitt Clockwork cargobike.
I confess it has not been without challenges.
However, it is now fitted and working.
Initial indications after about 100miles are that it looks like it will be doing the job I wanted. I am now able to ride in normal trousers without clips, tucking them in my socks or anything else. So far at least it appears to be keeping the chain properly clean so I have high hopes that it will mean a longer working life for the chain, sprocket and chainring, all with less maintenance and cleaning by me.
The problems have been about compatibility and fitting.
The obvious problem was that the Hebie Chainglider is available for 38, 40 and 42 tooth chainrings while the Shimano Chainring that comes with the Bullitt is 39 teeth.
No problem I thought. I’ll just put a 38 tooth chainring on instead. The gearing will be slightly lower but that is no bad thing.
However, it was not so easy. The Shimano crankset has 5 arms and a 130 BCD (the measurement that ensures the bolt holes on the chainrings are in the same place as on the crank arms. It turned out that almost nobody makes a 38 tooth chainring for 5 arm 130BCD chainsets . Eventually I found the very nice, heavy duty Surly stainless steel 38 tooth chainring to fit. When it arrived it was obvious why this is not common. The crank arms are so long that there is very little space for the bolts and when the chain is on it nearly bumps the ends of the arms.
This in turn meant that the chainglider also did not fit over the crank arms. It wouldn’t snap closed and the friction was immense.
So I thought again and started looking for a new crankset with shorter crank arms. I soon discovered that as my existing crankset was a Shimano Hollotech II style it was likely that I would need to replace the bottom bracket as well. This was starting to get worryingly complicated (I would have to worry about ensuring the same chainline) and expensive. Also as I looked for chainsets I discovered that 38tooth single ring chainsets are very very rare. In fact I had almost given up when I discovered one from Shimano which is the Saint FC-M810 Single MTB Hollowtech 2 Crankset. Although there seem to be no pictures it is available as a single 38 tooth ring and without the bash guard.
It is supposed to be immensely strong and as it is also Hollotech II the existing bottom bracket could still be used (it comes with a BB anyway so I now have a spare), that also means that the alignment is right.
So in the end fitting the new crankset was a doddle. By the way I did take advantage of replacing the crankset to move to 165mm cranks instead of 170mm, as a recumbent rider I was convinced by Mike Burrows and others of the advantages of shorter cranks and while 5mm is barely a nod in that direction it is one I was happy to make.
The chainglider was then pretty straightforward to fit. As I expected I needed to shorten it a little (designed to work with much longer chainstays). The front fitted very easily. The back less so. In fact I have found that the little pins that clip together the two parts that go around the sprocket are not entirely effective. Also the Alfine sprocket as these plastic rims which the chainglider rubs against.
So I have pulled the two parts a little apart from fully closed. The sprocket is still fully enclosed due to the plastic rims. However, friction and noise is much reduced. I have held the two parts together with zip ties (not worried about this making it hard to get off, I don’t normally carry tools to get the wheel off anyway. If I take tools I take something that can cut a ziptie).
Since making this adjustment the Hebie Chainglider is silent (providing well lubed) and while there is friction that you notice if back pedalling I have not noticed any drop in speed. Anyway for me speed is a lower priority than low maintenance, long parts life and not needing to tuck my trousers in my socks.
Adding more lube is very easy, there is a little hole in the top of the case, put the lube in there (thick stuff is better or it just leaks out of the bottom immediately – I am using a Muc Off Dry Lube at the moment which seems pretty good) while back pedalling and you are done. I do it occasionally before a ride (basically if I can hear the chainglider I add a bit more lube) and after a few miles it has spread enough and stuck enough that you can take the bike indoors without it dripping any oil.
So I am generally very happy. Yes I would prefer it if LarryVsHarry offered a full chaincase as an option. However, at least so far I am happy with this solution for me.