The Verdict: No Chainguard Required

Over the past couple of years, I converted my commuter from a triple, to a double, then recently, to a 1×9 with a Paul Chain Keeper. It’s a simple drivetrain that works quite well for how I use it. The one remaining question was what to do about a chainguard. After a couple of weeks riding the new set-up, the answer that presented itself was not at all what I expected: a 1×9 with a Paul’s Chain Keeper does not require a chainguard. That’s right; with the Paul installed, no matter how hard I try, I cannot catch my pant leg in the sprocket. And when combined with a super clean chain lube, grease marks are a thing of the past as well, even without a cuff strap. Pretty cool for such a simple set-up.

23 Responses to “The Verdict: No Chainguard Required”

  • Doug P says:

    Very cool, Alan. Simplicity personified! Paul’s stuff is the BEST! I have two single speed hubs by Paul, and they are both functionally superior and durable.

  • joe says:

    I have a Pauls Chain Keeper on my commuter, it keeps the chain on my 1×9 just fine. But I had my favorite pair of Showers Pass Hybrid ZipOff Pants get some holes in them because of no chain guard.

    I still really like the Chain Keeper!


  • Ralph Aichinger says:

    Haha! If my chains were that clean, I would not need one either. Unfortunately they are not, and neither are the chains on 99% of all bikes I see in real life.

  • Alan says:


    Read my article on chain waxing, and you too can have a well-lubed, clean chain that doesn’t mark up your clothing:

    Once you’ve done the initial cleaning, you’ll also find your drivetrain requires less maintenance than when using wet lubes.

    And yes, my bikes get plenty of use in “real life” (daily)… :-)


  • Jesse says:

    Very cool and good to know as I’m planning a 1×9 for myself in the coming months. I’ll order up a Paul chain keeper!

    Thanks for the continuously helpful and informative reviews.

  • Garth says:

    Congratulations Alan!

    I look forward to switching to paraffin as chain lubrication as well. It keeps the chain in direct competition to a belt drive system. For it work, I do see that it is key to set up a proper system, to avoid hassles.

  • Pete says:

    I have a Sugino chainring guard on my commuter and STILL manage to get pants snagged. I figure if Im stuck wearing a cuff strap it might as well be a nice one, so I bought a Brooks.
    I’m waiting for Civia to sell their very slick chain guard- then I can install that and get rid of the strap.

  • Jeff I says:

    Alan, I’m trying to replicate your 1×9 setup on my Trek 520 but I’m confused on what type of chain I should be using? Did you use a regular 9 speed chain and if so, what kind of chainring did you get on the Sugino crank (3/16″ pr 1/8″)? Thanks for your help. Also, where did you get that sweet old school looking Sugino crankeset with the crown?


  • Logan says:


    When overhauling our drivetrains this summer my partner and I decided to try out Alan’s chain waxing method. It works brilliantly! After 60 days of daily riding we can attest to the clean look of the bikes and the quieting of the chain. We have also found the lack of need for a chain guard to protect the pants. No grease, no mess! Our bikes have never looked so good! Now we know how Alan feels when people rib us for having clean looking bikes. ;)

  • Rob Mackenzie says:

    It is thing a beauty, and I’m sure it performs flawlessly, but… not all of us keep our bikes up to operating-room standards of cleanliness! And some folks might wear clothing chains like even better than your pant legs. Love the Paul, love the look, but I’d still vote for some really functional chain-guard. A really full-enclosed chain would be a dream for me!

  • Alan says:

    @Jeff I

    Hi Jeff,

    You’ll want a standard 3/32″ chain ring (hopefully with no ramps or pins) to match your existing 3/32″ 9-speed chain. Here’s the set-up:

    I ordered mine through Gold Country Cyclery:

    I hope that helps!

  • Janice in GA says:

    @Jeff Woohoo, another Trek 520 rider!

  • BB says:

    Sigh! Looks down at the latest pair of greased up best pants and thinks, “I have really GOT to get off my butt and try that chain-waxing thinngy”!

  • John says:

    I’ve tried the chain waxing deal, and it is a life-changer. Thanks for the tip.

  • randomray says:

    So it doesn’t rain where you live and there are no puddles or dirt anywhere ? I guess I don’t live there , but it doesn’t matter cause I can’t commute by bike anyway , Not yet .

  • Alan says:


    You missed the point, Ray: dirt and grime don’t stick to a waxed drivetrain (the drivetrain on my Riv has about 400 miles on it since the last waxing and it looks as clean as the photo at the top of this post). You oughta’ try it sometime – like just about everyone I know who’s actually tried it, you’d probably be pleasantly surprised with the improved performance and reduced maintenance time. Plus, it’s awfully nice to not deal with toxic solvents and spend the dollars on expensive, speciality chain lubes. Food for thought… :-)

  • Alan says:


    “I’ve tried the chain waxing deal, and it is a life-changer. Thanks for the tip.”

    That’s why we’re here, John! I’m glad it worked out well for you and that I was able to help.

    Best regards,

  • Ralph Aichinger says:

    I never wanted to imply, Alan, that you use your bikes merely as photo props (it’s obvious that you ride them a lot, and your photos are a proof of this), but I suppose you keep them indoors (in a garage?) when not ridden, and I also suspect your climate may be slightly more pleasant than mine here in Austria (lots of rain).

    I will try out waxing when I have to replace my next chain, but I suspect that waxed or not, if it is out in the rain for a week, it will look nothing like your photo above.

  • Alan says:


    It does indeed sound as if we live in very different parts of the world, both in terms of weather and culture. If I parked by bikes outside overnight, they’d disappear in short order – no need to worry about the rain! :-)


  • MT Cyclist says:

    Hello, Alan:
    I tried your chain-waxing technique on my commuter, and it works great here in the wilds of Montana.
    No black smudges on my pant leg for the past two months, and the chain has remained very quiet.
    OK. so, I did have to invest $3 for a block of parrafin, but there is plenty left over to do my wife’s Raleigh Sprite. (She hates the black chain smudges.)
    Love the look of that Chain Keeper, as well. Will considerit for builds that I have in planning.
    I love your site!

  • Alan says:

    @MT Cyclist

    Awesome! I’m glad it’s working for you. If you didn’t yet pick up a crock pot, make a trip to your local thrift store and see if you can find one (they’re typically priced at under $5); they make the process even that much simpler.

    Best regards,

  • randomray says:

    LOL , Alan When I get a chance I’m going try your chain waxing thing . I don’t mind grease on my ankles , but hate getting it on my hands when I clean Becky or have to mess with her drive train .

  • Kings County says:

    With a single on the crank and multliple gears in the rear, I’m always concerned that the chain will flip off the chainring. I have a bike set up that way, but have no problems. I use a circular guard on the outside of the chainring and a Third Eye chainwatcher on the seat tube.

© 2011 EcoVelo™