How to Make the Original Chainstay Protector

Is chain strike ruining your ride?  Are you getting sick of the noise it makes and the damage your chain does to your chainstay?  What you need then, is a bulletproof mountain bike chainstay protector.  A protector that’s tough, quiet, inexpensive and one that will last for ages.

But you don’t need to go to the shop and buy one.  Did you know you can make a do-it-yourself DIY chainstay protector in less than ten minutes?

Follow the steps below and will show you how to make the original ‘bulletproof’ bicycle chainstay protector just like this one on the left.  When you’re finished, you’ll have the most durable homemade chainstay protector around.

But hey, if this DIY chainstay guard is too big and chunky and not quite your style, check out How to Make the mtbtips Chainstay Protector Sock .  Still tough, durable and quiet, the Chainstay Sock is the sleeker and better looking younger brother of the Original.

  Let’s Make the Original Bulletproof Chainstay Protector

All you need to get started is:

– 10 minutes
– mountain bike or road bike inner tube
– 2 cable ties
– cleaning cloth and water
– scissors / packing knife
– chain tool (optional)
– SRAM Powerlink or Shimano chain link pin (optional)

Click here to Watch the basic steps in Video

1. Remove the rear wheel and chain. Although not absolutely necessary, removing the rear wheel and chain gives your hands more room to move and makes the whole operation a lot easier and cleaner. And if your chain has a SRAM Powerlink fitted, then removing your chain will be a very simple process.

You can learn the easiest way to remove and re-install your rear wheel here. And if you need to know more about SRAM Powerlinks, or how to remove or install a normal chain or a Powerlink go here.

** If you don’t have a Powerlink or a spare Shimano chain link pin to re-install your chain, then leave your chain on.  And, if you have disc brakes you can hook your chain over the rear caliper to help keep the chain out of your way (picture at right below)  **

2. Support your bike.  If your rear wheel is off, hang your mountain bike in a bike repair stand or hang it from the seat against your work bench.

No bench or stand? The garden fence is often a good place to hang your bike with the seat turned 90 degrees so that it hooks over the fence. Or, you could lay your bike down, but then it might move all over the place as you stretch and wrap the inner tube.

3. Remove and clean. Remove the old chainstay protector and clean the chainstay.

4. Remove the valve from the inner tube. Cut across the inner tube each side of the valve to remove that unwanted valve section.

  Super Tips – Different inner tubes give different results.  The type of tube you use is up to you.

  • A larger inner tube, like the mountain bike tube used in the video and photos, will make for a very thick, chunky and durable homemade chainstay protector.  Compared to the other options, the protector’s appearance will be lumpier and the knot at the end will be harder to tie.
  • A road bike tube will be easier to tie, because of its smaller diameter, and…
  • A tube that is cut in half longways so that it’s only one layer of tube, and about 25 – 50mm wide, will be easier to wrap and even easier to tie. The only disadvantage with this option is that it will provide only half the protection that a full tube will.

5. Test fit. Perform a practice wrap with the inner tube on the chainstay. Decide how much overlap you’ll do along the chainstay and check you have enough inner tube length to wrap the length of chainstay you want covered.

The bulletproof chainstay protector in the images was made using half width overlap, to make it very chunky and tough.

6. Start wrapping.  Start at the chainring end, position the end of the inner tube at least half way down on the inside of the chainstay.  Hold the tube end in place with one hand and wrap with the other.  Begin wrapping by coming over the top of the chainstay from the inside, and not from under the bottom of the stay.  As you wrap be sure to stretch the tube then lay it in place, keeping the stretch on the tube the whole time.

Make sure your first wrap goes back over the start of the tube (see photo at left) to completely cover and secure the tube end.  Once you’ve overlapped the starting end of the tube you can advance your wraps along the chainstay, overlapping each previous turn by the same amount as you go.

7. Repeat. Continue wrapping the inner tube along the chainstay, keeping a nice even stretch and neatly overlapping as you go. Rubber locks onto itself quiet well when it’s wrapped firmly, so you’ll need to keep the stretch up to ensure the chainstay protector stays in place, and to ensure the tube lays neat and flat.

As you work the inner tube along the chainstay with one hand, secure in place what has been newly wrapped with your other hand.

8. Prepare and spray the knot. The video below shows you how to do the knot very easily.  With one hand, hold in place what you have already wrapped so that it doesn’t loosen.  Use your other hand to prepare the knot at the end of the Chainstay protector. Spray the inner tube with water so that the knot will be easier to tie.

9. Tie the knot. As you tighten the knot, pull the knot under and to the inside of the chainstay, just like in the video. This will hide the knot away from view and give a neater appearance.

If your knot hasn’t quite made it around to the inside of the chainstay you’ll need to apply some brute force and twist the end of the protector by hand to make it happen.

10. Trim for neatness. Once you’re confident that the knot is tight, trim the excess inner tube hanging out of the knot. You could always squirt a few drops of superglue into the knot to make sure it will stay tight.

11. Cable tie. Apply one cable tie over the chainstay protector at the chainring end, about 5mm in.  Apply a second cable tie at the knot end and make sure it passes over the knot to help secure it in place.  For neatness and no sharp protruding edges, clamp the cable ties with the eye on the inside of the chainstay, then cut off cable tie excess.

  Super Tip: Black it Out.  Use black permanent marker pen to hide any factory lettering on the inner tube.

12. Re-fit your rear wheel and chain. Once again, the easiest way to re-install your rear wheel can be found here. And the chain tips can be found here.

13. Go Ride and enjoy the sweet sound of nothing as your chain quietly bounces off your brand new DIY chainstay protector.

If You Couldn’t Be Bothered

It’s a good little job, making your own chainstay protector, and it adds that ‘personal touch’ to your mountain bike. But, if you couldn’t be bothered with either the Original or the Best Chainstay Protector then at least buy a decent aftermarket one.

Lizard Skins, Da Bomb and BBB are a few brands of bicycle chainstay protector that come to mind. They might not be ‘bulletproof’, but they do a pretty good job.  Either way, make or buy something decent! Your bike and your ears will thank you for it.