Ah, spring is about us and it’s almost mountain biking season up here in the great frozen north that is Michigan. Mountain biking is a fun, cool side-sport for a devoted road cyclist. I’ve always looked at it as being able to turn back the clock a little bit and behave like a kid – a chance to play in the dirt, jump my bike and other unrefined behaviors that one typically won’t take part in on the road.
This comes at a price however. Being a cycling enthusiast of epic proportions, I love a good-looking, scratch-free bike. In most cases, a clean paint job and mountain biking do not go hand-in-hand. If I’m doing it right, I will crash from time to time. On the other hand, there is one place to minimize unnecessary damage: The chain stay (see photo).
The one thing I noticed, and hated, when I first started mountain biking was how loud it was going down a rocky hill. The chain would smack mercilessly on the chain stay as I bounced down the hill. While new bikes do come with a nice little sticker over the top of the chain stay, with the amount of abuse I threw at that bike I knew it would only be a matter of time before I wore through the sticker and got into the paint and aluminum – or worse, if I hit a bump hard enough the chain would gouge into the softer material of the chain stay.
That’s about the time that I noticed my buddy Tim’s bike didn’t make all the noise that mine did – he had a Lizard Skin chain stay protector on his bike. I picked one up that afternoon and cannot be happier with the way it quieted down my ride and kept the chain from scratching the chain stay.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that they do present another problem: If they’re installed loose over the chain stay, so that they can move or slide about relatively freely, a chain stay protector will collect dirt and wear the stay where it’s not protected by that sticker. Care should be taken to install them correctly and to make sure it stays relatively clean so dirt can’t work its way underneath.