Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard

Components Pro Reviews

This Bashguard is a unique component. Instead of using hard plastic (polycarbonate) or metal (aluminum) for the bashguard, they use CNC machined aluminum that has Thermoplastic Polyurethane bonded on the outer edge. Thermoplastic Polyurethanes or TPU is a class of polyurethane plastics with many useful properties, including elasticity, transparency, and resistance to oil, grease and abrasion. The TPU ring is ribbed, and can be used as a third wheel, offering adhesion and traction capabilities over obstacles, and will not mar surfaces. The TPU is hard, but has a slight give, so that it can adhere and conform to objects, offering a useful gripiness when dealing with and powering over large rocks or trees. The bashguard is CNC machined from a solid billet of aluminum, for additional strength and durability. Purely Custom is known for their custom CNC machining, and are a division of Seastrom Manufacturing, which has been in business since 1928, and are located in Twin Falls Idaho.

Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard Specs:

  • Visit them at Purely Custom Soft Touch
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane outer ring prevents you from leaving your mark on the environment
  • Outer polyurethane ring is ribbed to provide traction while powering over obstacles
  • Inner ring is CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminum. 115g
  • Size – 104BCD x 34teeth
  • Colors – red, green, blue, orange


Impressions
I installed the Soft Touch on my SIXC crankset (22/32/bash), replacing the existing aluminum bashguard. It has been my faithful companion for three months, and it has seen a fair amount of abusive use. I tend to ride a lot of very technical terrain that has rock gardens, rock slabs, ledge drop, log roll overs, and a bashguard is useful, and is almost required. Some of the typical terrain requires skillful maneuvering, usually at a snail’s pace, threading through and overcoming obstacles, and it sometimes entails using the bashguard. The bashguard may be used for protection rolling over an object, as a pseudo third wheel, using it to lean against, sliding down something, and using the gripiness and ribs for traction to power up and over things. Many times I have done a track stand with it, using it to balance before making a move. I liked that the TPU was sort of an ideal blend of hard and elastic properties, so you could slide with it, or grip with it with the proper downward pressure. One aspect I really like about the Soft Tools, is that when it gets marred or torn up, your legs don’t get scratched or cut up by sharp aluminum of a normal bashguard. It’s also quiet, so when you hit an object with some speed it dulls the noise and the sensation, and acts as a micro energy absorber, so impacts aren’t as harsh. We as mountain bikers need to follow the adage ‘Leave No Trace’ on the environment, and the Soft Touch is an ideal tool, since it doesn’t leave behind a scrape mark, deep gouge or a scratch. I have one small spot where the TPU chunked off, but it was inconsequential, and it seems to be isolated to the section where my right foot is forward, and the cranks are horizontal. Otherwise, it has been pretty tough and durable for as much abuse that it has been through.

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.



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  • RiFreeDe says:

    I thought of this 2 years ago, mentioned the idea to my weekend crew and the had some constructive comments. I realized later how STUPID it is.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Not sure why you feel that way, can you please offer some constructive criticism on the product? Thanks.

  • Disco says:

    $60, domestically produced and always stylishly colored to keep your pants clean; looks buff.

  • b1gbleu says:

    Make it in white + I’ll take one. I dont need a 3rd wheel, just ankle/pant leg protection

  • jimmy says:

    Sooo, who is stupid enough to break that thin plastic off first hit when the alu under it slices it in two?
    And who will pay the extra for the privilege?
    Bashguards don’t come into play often, and are intrinsically disposable. Get cheapest that’ll do the job at reasonable weight. If you like plastic, then Blackspire C4 is often found for $20 and not heavy.

  • jimmy says:

    NB. I bet that when the decoration dressed up as function breaks off, then due to the decrease in diameter, then thing will no longer cover the specified number of teeth chainring. Meaning, it is completely junked, and it’s not like you could keep using it once that plastic is gone. (First big hit?).
    Nothing worse than gimmicks that make stuff worse, dressed up as a benefit, for more money. If they just said it was decoration for easily led – no problem!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Jimmy
    The review was but just my opinion, nothing more, nothing less…
    1) it doesn’t seem to be thin plastic, and the aluminum underneath is the same size, so not sure how it would cut it in two?
    2) I use my bashguard regularly, so it often comes into play
    3) I have used the Blackspire polycarbonate, good product, but doesn’t offer the same features or benefits as the TPU, but I agree it’s a better price point
    4) I don’t think it’s decoration, and with my 22/32 set up, even if it completely wore away (which is doubtful) the aluminum would still cover it
    5) I have taken some big hits, and the TPU isn’t gone nor disintegrated
    6) I don’t feel it’s a gimmick, I found it to be a useful item

  • Customer Service - Purely Custom says:

    Purely Custom here, creator and manufacturer of the Soft Touch bash guard.

    Jimmy, in response to your concerns about the “plastic” being a flimsy gimmick that will break off, I assure you that the thermoplastic polyurethane ring will not wear out or peel out on the first big hit. This stuff is surprisingly difficult to remove with a screw driver, pliers and wire cutters, let alone the occasional run-in with a rock. We have had three being tested since early march and have not needed to replace a single one (that is almost three full months longer than Brian has had his, I know because I am the one that gave him his). If you would like to see the product for yourself, it will be shown at InterBike and the Sea Otter Classic.

    b1gbleu, we have had a surprising interest in white and it will most likely be one of the next colors available.

    Thanks for the feedback guys!

  • Paul says:

    CS, sounds good, only I didn’t realize I would be taking away my outer chainring, I thought it would be added to the outside. Make some outer guards so when I fall the tooth ring doesn’t dig into my ankle like last time

  • Paul says:

    edit 48 tooth ring

  • nelson says:

    This idea should be integrated with the third ring for the XC guys, but the trend is 2 X 10, too late man!

  • Customer Service - Purely Custom says:

    We actually do have bash guards that mount outside the outer chain ring, they just aren’t the Soft Touch version. The current plan is to roll out new sizes and mounting options (outside the outer ring) as early as next spring! In the meantime, you can check out our other bash guards that allow you to keep the outer chain ring at http://www.purelycustom.com/c-71-3×1-armor-bash-guard.aspx

  • jimmy says:

    Remember run in with rock, is all your weight + bike moving at n mph into solid rock. And not necessarily a nice flat rock in straight line either. As opposed to just gripping/poking it. It’s like it got hit with a 200lb granite hammer. Even a gentle hit with such force is going to ‘upset’ a little bit of plastic.
    Everyone that has owned a solid plastic bash knows you can gouge out big chunks without v big hits. Your little strip sandwiched betweem alu and rock is patently a terrible idea (IMO). Decoration. By all means sell it as light use decorative stuff. But please don’t pretend it’s a functional improvement worth extra coin. Insulting.
    But maybe we have to agree to disagree. Good luck with it.

  • Customer Service - Purely Custom says:

    In order to help with concerns that others may have similar to Jimmy’s, we have posted a cut-away image of the bash guard on our product page (or here: http://www.purelycustom.com/images/product/large/432_6_.jpg ) to better illustrate the way the thermoplastic is molded to the bash guard. Keep in mind that is not a hard plastic that will chip or break, nor is it a soft rubber that will compress and split. Being a polyurethane thermoplastic, it provides strength while still providing a small amount of cushion. Think of it as a little firmer than tire material. Yes, through heavy use the thermoplastic with scuff (see photo at top of page two), but this in no way means that it needs replaced. If anyone else has concerns or questions, please contact us through our website for quick response. Thank you.

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