A chain cover that will work in a pinch
My homemade chain cover
I'm always tweaking my bikes. For some time I've been looking for a good chain cover; something to protect my pants while riding my trusty city/beater bike, which was born as a 80s Norco yellow mountain bike and which I overhauled. Somehow I ended up going to an auto shop to whip up what you see in the photo above; a chain hugged by some wire conduit.
My current chain guard came from CBN's DIY tool rental where I installed it a couple years ago. It sort of works but I still get oil on my pants when the wind picks up and blows the fabric into the chain at the bottom. Or worse, the fabric gets caught between the chain and the chain guard. So I've wanted something better for some time, and I thought I was finally onto something better but cheap.
The Dutch solved this problem long ago with their completely enclosed chain case (like in this photo). I like that approach but I likely can't install one on my beater. So instead I have coveted the Velo Orange "porteur-style" chain case which looks like it would handily do the job and look really spiffy. But it may be too nice on a beater bike. So I've kept looking for the perfect chain cover. That's when I found this "amazing" new chain cover being sold Biologic, the Freedrive Chain Cover. It's a cover that attaches onto the chain and moves with it. It looks awesome and it's cheap. Some Dahon Bicycle models now have it installed, and it's been talked about in the ever geeky Bike Forum. And it's only 20 dollars.
I looked for some reviews of the product and that's when I came across this video by a young fixie trickster, who had installed what looked quite similar on his fixie, but - as he explains - was actually purchased at an auto store. In the auto industry it's known as "wire conduit" or "wire loom". Apparently this trick has been known by BMXers for a few decades. Thanks Kareem, you've just saved me $15!
So I went to my local Portuguese auto / hardware corner store and purchased the only available loom in basic black. I cleaned my chain, wiped off all excess oil, and snapped the loom onto the chain. Once the chain was covered I overlapped the loom and cut off the excess. I kept the old chain guard for added protection.
Amazingly the loom stays on and it's fairly quiet - except for a pleasant clicking sound. After a couple weeks the loom has started to crack but it's still protecting my pants. Perhaps the Biologic version is a bit tougher. I suspect that winter will be a lot rougher on it when the chain may become compacted with snow and allow it to rust even faster. I will experiment until I either find a cheaper knock-off of the porteur chain guard or cave in and by Velo Orange's version. But at the same time I hope the auto loom chain cover takes off as a fashion statement. Perhaps I should buy a lime green version.