Save your chainstays, shield your paintwork and silence your ride.
Protect your paint and improve the resale value of your bike by investing in some frame protection. This can include full frame kits and individual protectors for vulnerable areas such as the chainstay. Plus we’ve also included a DIY option you can hack from an old tyre.
Even the best cheap hardtails rarely come with any sort of protection on the driveside chainstay. Usually it is exposed, ripe for shot peening by the chain as the bike rattles down the descents. What’s odd is we’ve been putting chainstay protectors on bikes for about 30 years, so it’s shocking that modern hardtails often don’t come with them. So this is an excellent first upgrade if you’ve just bought a new hardtail, as it will both protect the bike and silence some of the annoying metal on metal rattle.
The simplest chainstay protector is a piece of clear tape, like sticky backed plastic. It’s thin and it will stop chipping for a while. The next option is a sort of neoprene sock, that has a seam down the middle with a Velcro closure. This means you can take it one and off for cleaning and the thick neoprene offers loads of protection and noise reduction. On modern full suspension bikes you also see more sophisticated moulded designs but these are often bike specific and aren’t cross compatible.
If you have a full-suspension bike, you could also consider investing in a complete frame protection kit. This thick, clear plastic is custom cut to specifically fit each model and size of frame, and comes with loads of pieces to protect all the hidden nooks and crannies. It’s a wise investment as it keeps your frame unblemished from knocks and scrapes, making it easy on the eye and easy to sell when the time comes to move it on. If you’re patient and careful, fitting one of these kits is something you can do at home.
Lizard Skins Small Frame Protector
This is a stick-on chain or seat stay strip made from Carbon Leather, a sort of thick nylon material with a faux carbon weave finish. There’s only one width but it curves round the tube and there’s three extension pieces, which you can fit to the chainstay yoke or elsewhere on the frame.
These custom clear vinyl kits are designed to fit specific frames and sizes, covering all the key areas where scuffs and scratches commonly occur. Your bike is left unmarked underneath, ensuring it’s pristine when the time comes to sell it. Highly recommended, especially for expensive bikes and frames.
Inside the VHS 2.0 Slapper Tape box is a spool of silicone-backed rubber tape, finished with a row of air bubbles designed to further cushion the chain if it impacts your frame. This 2.0 version is wide enough to fit on top of any chainstay I can think of, and at 350mm, long enough to cover the entire stay. Aesthetically the VHS 2.0 Slapper Tape is reasonable but nowhere near as polished as a bespoke moulded chain guide. It does its job though, silencing pretty much all the noise from the back of the bike.
Renthal Padded Cell chainstay protector
Neoprene wraps are popular because they offer great protection, can be removed for cleaning and are relatively cheap. Renthal’s Padded Cell is double stitched for durability and is available in a range of sizes, all the way for use on slim-stayed, cromo hardtails to full suspension bikes with box section swingarms.
AMS Honeycomb Frame Guard XL
To protect your frame All Mountain Style’s XL Frame Guard comes with 10-separate pieces of 380-micron, semi-rigid sticky PVC sheet but also included are four interlocking sections for the chain or seat stays. Dead easy to fit, impact and scuff resistant, and it won’t yellow like clear tape over time. It’s also available in a ton of colours and several frame sizes.
DIY chainstay protector
Chainstay protectors are relatively cheap but you can also cobble something together yourself for about flumpence. The one we’re showcasing involves attaching a couple of rubber rings to the stay with zip-ties but you can also do something with padded 3M tape, an old inner tube or heat shrink.
You can make a simple chainstay protector from a strip of Gaffa tape, which you cut to the length of your stay and neaten up the corners. However, you may want something a bit more permanent so we’re going to re-purpose one from an old tyre.
1. Measure the circumference of your chain stay using a piece of paper.
2. Using some sheers, cut 2inch wides x the circumference strips from the tyre – this can either been the sidewall or the tread, your choice.
3. Make two holes two inches from the centre and insert a zip tie as shown.
4. Attach these tyre loops every 3in along the chainstay.
What you need to know about the best chainstay protectors
Chainstays and swingarms come all sorts of shapes and sizes so you need a chainstay protector that fits. Stick on design go straight on the surface of the stay but you’ll need to measure the size of the chainstay if you intend to use a neoprene sleeve. To do this wrap a piece of paper round the outside and measure the circumference.
Like the diameter, the chainstay length is not fixed so you’ll need a chainstay protector that’s long enough. Most are 250mm long but if you need more you can double up or cut down an extra protector to fit the gap. Some adhesive protectors also come with extra piece to increase coverage.
If the chain stay protector can more it will and any dirt that’s wormed its way underneath will scuff the frame, so secure the chainstay protector with a zip tie. For full belt-and-braces stick on some tape to the stay first.
If you’re running neoprene chainstay protector that you can remove, remove it often and clean away any debris and grit that has gotten underneath. This also allows you the opportunity to spot any wear or potential problems.
Once the chainstay protector has worn, replace it. It’s a relatively cheap component (much cheaper than fresh pain or a new swingarm) and it can also look pretty shabby. If you’re going to sell the bike fit a fresh protector or, better still, none at all.