Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hebie Chainglider (Nexus Part 7)

I've owned a Hebie chainglider for a few weeks now, but have only just managed to fit it last weekend.  Now it's on, it's amazing, but getting the thing fitted has been a complete pain in the arse.

First of all SJS Cycles (and many other stockists) sell the chainglider in two formats. One size fits 38 tooth chainrings, the other is supposed to fit both 42 & 44 tooth chainrings, which is the one I bought. Except this product fitting onto a 44 tooth ring is just a lie. It simply doesnt fit and I suspect the people out there that complain of excessive drag from a chainglider have been duped by this same situation and have forced their chainglider onto a chainring that is too big for it.

It took me a while to decide that it's not me going crazy or being simple and not understanding how it's supposed to fit, but that it simply doesn't fit anything other than a 42.

It's not Hebie's fault, looking closer at their website, the chainglider fits only distinct seperate rings and they don't state otherwise.There is no version that fits both 42 & 44. The one I got had 350 42 stamped on the back -i'ts been designed for a 42 tooth ring - nothing else. Who knows why the stockists they sell it as anything else. (except Velorution who seem to market it properly - I should've bought it from there)

So ok, nevermind. It just means I had to get a 42 tooth ring instead. So I ordered one from a seller on ebay and they sent me a chainring for a tandem!. So that went back for a refund and I got a Stronglight chainset from another seller instead. There are cheaper options available than a Stronglight, but they have the chainring bolted on, whereas the Stronglights are a lovely minimalist piece of kit that is certain to work inside the chainglider.

Here is the bike with 42 ring fitted and chainglider.
The next problem is that the chainglider is designed to fit a variety of sized frames and wheeled bikes. There is plenty of adjustment range on the back, but it was just too long to fit on my 26" wheel bike. So I had to chop some off.

I cut just enough off for it to work without fouling on the rear sprocket teeth.

Once that was done it was very straight forward and easy to fit, everything just clips into place. The plastic it's made from is pretty flexible soft feeling stuff, but it does feel solid and durable at the same time. Getting the inside section that covers the rear sprocket is a tiny bit tricky as it has to go behind the nexus hub gear cassette joint then the back section slides over and clicks into place on four little studs.

There is a demonstration video on the Hebie website to show you how to fit it. That shows the newest model, it has a fancier clipping system than mine which must have come from existing stock of the older design.

Here it is fully fitted.

I'm suprised just how silent and drag free it actually is (i.e. barely any difference from before). I gave the chain a good spray of chainlube before and after fitting. More than I would normally use on an open chain but certainly not a huge amount. Now the whole rigmoral is over I'd definately recommended the chainglider to anyone wanting to fully enclose their chain. But I would say that you need to be prepared to do some of your own work. I'm sure in some cases you can just fit it straight out of the box, but I'd imagine that anything with 26" wheels will require a little chopping, as I've done.

There isn't much info available about the kinds of problems I've encountered with fitting the chainglider, just a few complaints from people who I would guess have tried fitting it to chainrings that are too large or have not done some trimming to make it fit the rear sprocket. So hopefully this post can help anyone thinking of getting a chainglider, because it really does seem like a decent piece of kit to me.

An added bonus is that the hub seems to be running nicer with a 42 chainring. 42/20 is exactly on the 2.1 ratio that Shimano recommend you keep as close to as possible and it's noticeable how the change either side of 4th has improved a bit.

**Small update after 3 months use**
The chainglider is still performing brilliantly through rain, sun & snow. It's there to be forgotten about and quietly gets on with its job. 

I had been giving the chain a quick spray of chainlube through the little hole on the top every so often until a few weeks back when I noticed the chainglider was skipping occasionally on the way home. After taking it off to have a look I could see the chain was pretty dry so I've come to the conclusion that whereas the spraylube it great on open chains it's not the right stuff for inside the chainglider.- Obvious in hindsight, but the spraylube had impressed me so much on my open chains that it was just the first thing I reached for when I put  the chainglider together.

If you think about it, one of the benefits of having the chain completely enclosed is that you can have it bathed in copious amounts of oil without worrying about it going all over your trousers. So I put it back together with plenty of oil on the chain and plenty on the inside of the glider's parts. Then rotated the cranks a few times whilst pouring yet more into the oiling port.

It's now running seriously smooth & I wish I'd just done this right from the start. There was a little bit of excess made its way out of the rear section the next day, but hardly any really.

All in all an excellent piece of kit that lets you just use the bike for everyday transport.


  1. What a fantastic bit of kit. I bet you won't need to touch the chain for quite a while now.

    I like how minimal it is - just looking like a chain (if you squint a bit!) but a heck of a lot cleaner :>)

  2. Have had one for two weeks. Just brilliant: install and forget.

  3. Hi Jim,

    This is Adam from Joad Sportz Supplies in Sydney Australia.

    We are the Australian Distributors for Hebie Australia / NZ.

    "Great artical by the way" We will definately consider your comments when we sell chaingliders to our retailers and end users. I own a Schwinn Madison that im about to fit one onto and it has 48 teeth. I will need to trim the length of mine also so it dosen't fowl my rear sprocket teeth.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New 2012

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Seems like a great idea. How has it worked out long term, any updates? I would be keen to get one to reduce maintenance (chain cleaning and replacemenT) but I need to wear out my 52 chainring first!