I remember when bras were all the rage on 90’s Camaros. It never made much sense to me as a kid.
It never made much sense to me as a kid. When you took the bra off, you were just going to have the protected paint underneath that now was mismatched to the sunbleached paint on the rest of the car.
Either way, you were going to lose.
Of course, that might have had more to do with sub-par paint jobs than it had to do with Camaro owner’s choice of style.
When I was first introduced to chainstay protectors I had a similar reaction. Why would I cover up a part of my bike? What good is protecting it if you can’t see it?
My personal brand of vanity is to show off. It goes against this style to cover things up and keep them looking nice.
It turns out that the chain of the bike moves around. A lot.
Every time you go over a bump, it bounced up and down. Every time you bunny hop over a curb, you get that bounce.
And every time you have a miss-shift, it turns into a chainsaw that chews up everything it touches.
The first time I dropped a chain on a hill and came back to the car with two nicks on my brand new bike frame, I became much more interested in exploring my chainstay protection options.
Mud, grease, and grime are also enemies of your finish. Even the most carefully-lubed chain can fling grease. And chains are bad about picking up mud, mixing it with grease and depositing that on the chainstays.
The end results is a greasy mixture that takes an excessive amount of effort to remove.
Heavy Fabric Covers
The first chainstay protector I went with was the Lizard skins. Designed more for mountain bikers, I grabbed the first thing that was available in the bike shop.
It worked extremely well. The challenge was keeping the skin looking nice. Riding in the rain or through a mud puddle would instantly transform it into a mess. Sure, I could throw it in the washing machine (which I did), but then I needed two skins so I had a backup.
I did like that I could purchase the skins in different colors. It was a fun way to add a little pizazz to my ride (and attract endless razzing from my fellow athletes for my mismatched skins.
Clear or Colored Vinyl Protectors
Maybe I am a little slow, but one day I discovered that most new bikes apply a thin, clear piece of vinyl to the chainstay (they also make carbon fiber looking ones)
Which means that all new road bikes — and most other bikes — already have some level of protection when it comes straight from the manufacturer.
However, these stock vinyls are a little on the thin side. A dropped chain can go right through one.
So I started purchasing an extra, after-market vinyl to apply on top of the stock one. And that seems to work pretty well for me. It’s thick enough to withstand any chain drop I’ve done, and it cleans up very nicely.
In short, I’m a fan of chainstay protectors. They preserve your bike’s resale value. The removable ones help capture some of the grease and grime, making cleanup easier.