Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Long Term Review

Components

Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Review

The Bionicon C.Guide V.02 has to be one of the most obvious, duh, face-palm bike accessories ever. As soon as I saw it (2011 Interbike), I said, “duh,” and slapped my own face. When you see it, you can’t help but ask yourself why this wasn’t done years ago. The $50 C.Guide is a perfect example of “elegant design.” It’s pure and simple, it works great and it’s super light – less than 20 grams according to Bionicon. It also works on two or three chainring drivetrains. I’m not one of those weight weenies that own an electronic scale so no photos of the C.Guide on a scale. You’re gonna have to take their word for it or buy one and weigh it yourself. However – just looking at it you can tell it’s lighter than anything else on the market.

Bionicon sent me the C.Guide V.02 last spring and I’ve been using it for over a year now. It’s mounted on my trusty Bionicon Golden Willow trail bike (Yes, I’m a happy Bionicon owner. And yes, “Golden Willow” is the lamest bike name ever.). I’ve done pretty much every kind of ride now using the C.Guide, short of full-on downhill, and it’s been bombproof for me. The simple design makes it really easy to install, too. You don’t have to worry about ISCG tabs or mess with your crankset and bottom bracket, both of which are standard procedure with other chain guides. You simply remove one screw to split the C.Guide’s aluminum alloy body and the low-friction plastic guide tube, reassemble around your chain (Bionicon recommends adding a couple of chain links to compensate for the added tension), then zip tie the hanger to either your derailleur cable or your chainstay – depending on your bike’s cable routing and rear triangle configuration. In the case of my Bionicon Golden Willow, I hung the C.Guide from the chainstay.

Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Parts & Instructions

Early in 2012 there were some problems with C.Guides breaking and the mixed user reviews here reflect that (Bionicon C.Guide user reviews). I’d bet that most negative reports were for early 2012 C.Guides, though. Either the user bought them in early 2012, or the dealer put them on the shelf that spring. In any case, I’d seen reports of them breaking so figured as a good tester I should do my best to break mine – which I did on the first ride. The “universal mount” that attaches to the chain stay with zip ties, broke. To be fair, I did ride the bike as hard as I could on a super muddy, rocky trail with a bunch of stupid flat landing kicker jumps. You can get an idea from the mud in the photo below, what the conditions were like. And even when it was broken, the C.Guide didn’t cause me any problems because it was still attached to the chainstay on one end. That’s a good thing because if it did get totally ripped off, there’s a high likelihood it would get jammed in and damage the rear derailleur. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to me. Even though I broke the C.Guide, I didn’t drop my chain once during that ride and even when my tires were so packed with mud that my rear wheel wouldn’t turn, the chain still moved freely through the guide. When I got home I called Paul, the president of Bionicon USA, and let him know what happened. He told me they’d identified the problem and the mad scientists at Bionicon headquarters in Germany already had stronger, replacement pieces made.

Broken Bionicon C.Guide

As a control, I went back the next day and rode the very same trail without the C.Guide and I did drop my chain. However, I haven’t dropped my chain once since reinstalling the C.Guide, over a year ago.

Bionicon sent me their new, stronger universal mount and I was on the trail again with the C.Guide within a few days. I’ve been riding with it for over a year since then and I haven’t had any issues – not even on super rocky trails or jumping (small jumps – I suck). The drivetrain – a 2 x 9 setup with a bashguard – shifts fine and I haven’t dropped the chain once since I installed the C.Guide. One thing that concerned me was the plastic guide tube. I was worried that maybe there would be too much drag on the chain. That hasn’t been the case, though. Bionicon uses super slick plastic for the guide tube and I swear the C.Guide has less drag than any standard, bearing-mounted pulley-wheel chain guide I’ve ever used. Plus – there are no bearings to wear out, corrode or freeze up – just another example of how the C.Guide fits the “elegant design” aesthetic. Pulley wheels with bearings look good but for most riders on most trails, they’re probably not necessary. And they do have parts that will eventually wear and fail. The plastic guide tube does wear and Bionicon recommends rotating it periodically to get the most out of it and keep it running smoothly. They also have replacement guide tubes if you do wear one out.

Bionicon C.Guide After A Year Of Use

In spite of the mixed user reviews here, and complaints about the $50 price, I’m totally sold on the Bionicon C.Guide. I’ve abused mine thoroughly and it’s taken whatever I’ve been able to throw at it – since I got the replacement part, that is. I wish it was possible to check when each C.Guide reviewed in our user reviews was made to see if they’re the older ones with the weaker universal mount. That’s what I suspect. Unfortunately, without e-mailing each reviewer, there’s no way to know. All I can say is the Bionicon C.Guide has worked great for me. It’s super light, it does what it’s supposed to and it’s easy to use. I think it’s totally worth the $50.

To learn more about the C.Guide, visit the Bionicon C.Guide Web page.

Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Long Term Review Gallery
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Bionicon C.Guide - Available In Many Colors
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Bionicon C.Guide - Available In Many Colors

Bionicon C.Guide - Parts, Manual & Box
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Bionicon C.Guide - Parts, Manual & Box

Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Review
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Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Review

Bionicon's C.Guide chain guide weighs less than 20 grams, works with two or three-ring drivetrains, and sells for $50.
Bionicon C.Guide - 19 Gram Chain Guide
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Bionicon C.Guide - 19 Gram Chain Guide

Bionicon C.Guide After A Year Of Use
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Bionicon C.Guide After A Year Of Use

Here's my Bionicon C.Guide chain guide, on my Bionicon Golden Willow, after a year of solid abuse (except for winter, when I'm on the skis).
Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Parts & Instructions
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Bionicon C.Guide Chain Guide Parts & Instructions

Broken Bionicon C.Guide
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Broken Bionicon C.Guide

Early in 2012 there was a problem with the C.Guide breaking. I broke this one on the first ride. They sent me an improved replacement for the broken part and it's worked fine for over a year.
About the author: John Shafer

John Shafer, a.k.a. Photo-John, is a photographer, cyclist, skier and general outdoor lover. He’s happiest when he’s on his bike or skis, taking pictures in the backcountry. He’s been on the Mtbr team since 1999 running PhotographyREVIEW.com as well as contributing photos and articles on Mtbr. John has been taking pictures since college and believes everyone can be a good photographer if they just learn a few simple rules. He loves big mountains, rocky singletrack, powder days, 6-inch trail bikes, coffee and tacos. Look for him pushing his bike uphill, carrying an inappropriate amount of camera gear in an overloaded backpack.


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  • jason says:

    3 words. DCD chain tensioner.

  • john says:

    Really this is what passes for a review? You didn’t drop the chain on what you call tough conditions… wow, great review.

    No comments about what the increased friction is or how that affects pedaling?

    And seriously you can’t weigh the damn thing? Aren’t you getting this for free and isn’t this review a service to readers? Seriously dude put the bong down and get a clue on how to write a proper product review. What a waste of people’s time.

  • Hazmatt says:

    Reminds me of one of the first chain guides I bought back in 98.

    Anyone remember these, they still sell them lol

    http://www.icatchdeals.com/chain-guide-kore-chain-reactor-red-kcructdxxxxxrat.html

    mine broke after a few months

  • Joe Hodgson says:

    Clutch derailleur! My bike is almost too quiet now, look out hikers!

  • mike says:

    Worth 50 $?! Are you freaking serious? 50 freaking quid for something that should cost 10? 50!!??? WTF?! How much did they pay you?

    I made mine from old back reflector holder and piece of hose pipe. Cost 2 $. Check YouTube for how to make it. I did it just for the sake of principle to not to pay such bullshit price for something that trivial and basic. 3D PRINT will soon verify the market from such ridiculous prices. It’s piece of plastic and fancy alloy which could be plastic as well for God’s sake. 50$!?

  • Sylvain says:

    I’ve had the Bionicon chain guide on my Tallboy LTc for almost a year now. Review is pretty much what it is. Simple, clean and effective.

    Not much you can feel with resistance even combine with XTR shadow plus derailleur. Mine sits completely on the lizard skin chain stain protector. In my opinion, it absorbs vibration hence no breakage.

    I dropped my chain with my Shadow + before. Not with this. Might not replace full WC approved chain guide however, it’s a fraction of the price and being used on all-mountain rides.

    I just flipped the plastic barrel around and work like new now. Just be mindful of cleaning the lube off the inside once in a while.

    As far as $50. Well, the time it would take to find material, make it and install it, I could take that time to make money instead. Most people that would need such a device already spent at least $3000 on a bike. Price is overkill for what it is but the alternative is no cheaper…

    Personal review, take it or leave it. Did rough enough trail to get full value out of it. 4.5 stars in my book. (-.5 for price but I buy carbon bars, big rotors and dropper post for my bike so $50 of no worries… Thumbs up!

  • Scott says:

    Haters will hate… The review John gave was true and correct, Bionicon doesn’t pay anyone to review ANYTHING… And if any of you look around, how much advertising do you see about Bionicons products??? That’s what I thought..

  • sq22 says:

    Don’t buy the whole thing, just buy a replacement slider, get an old road inner tube and make a roll about 4 turns thick and then zip tie the slider to the ‘inner tube roll’ and zip tie the roll to the chainstay. Use two big ass re-usable zip ties and you are golden, job done for $12

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