Nearly everything on my Brompton bicycle is just about perfect, but there’s no denying that Basil’s chain guard does not represent Brompton’s finest hour.
Basil is a 2012 Brompton; his chainguard is plastic, or a nylon-like plastic, or something of the like. It’s held in place, more or less, with rivets of the same material, which mate to the metal chain ring.
I say “more or less” because the rivets wear, which causes the guard to warp slightly, which allows the guard wires on the wheel to catch every now and then, and, eventually, the chain guard pops off and is rendered useless.
When the rivets on Basil’s original guard popped, I had NYCeWheels replace it, though it seemed obvious that the replacement was likely to exhibit exactly the same fault.
As expected, it wasn’t long until the new plastic guard began to warp. You may or may not be able to make out the beginning of the end in the image above.
I procrastinated long enough that eventually Mr. Orange posted a solution to this vexing problem. He replaced the original guard on his orange titanium Brompton with a metal one from Tiller Cycles in the UK.
Tiller makes the chain guards (click on the section called “Brompton Bling“) in a wide range of Brompton colors and in two non-coated variations. My inclination was to go for black, stainless or aluminium, but Dr. Diarist suggested that I really should match Basil’s Brompton yellow.
This seemed a bit much, but, on the other hand, Mr. Orange’s Brompton did look quite nice with its new ornament, so I sent off for one in Basil’s frame color. It arrived quite promptly, neatly attached to a piece of cardboard.
Installation (and removal from the backing) was facilitated, naturally, by Brompton’s sweet little ratchet set.
Tiller’s note reminds customers to set all the bolts before tightening, and I remembered, from years gone by, to tighten every other bolt in order to keep stresses even while going along.
Stainless spacers hold the guard away from the chain.
I sensibly used thread locker during installation, and I’ll remember to check the bolts now and then just to make sure that they stay tight.
When the bicycle is folded, the fold guard wires do make contact with the chain guard, so I expect that the pristine beauty of that paint job may not last. From that standpoint, the polished stainless or aluminium may have been the better choice. We shall see.
However, unlike the original guard, this one is unlikely to deteriorate in the course of ordinary use, and should not warp over time.
Basil, as he originally appeared:
And newly ornamented:
Basil is not as conservative as I am, and appears to be quite pleased with both the practical and aesthetic aspects of this change to his armature.
For those of us in North America, this is a costly bit of kit, particularly as postal rates are extraordinarily high — nearly the price of the guard itself. (UK customers will presumably find the price to them more palatable.) However, I expect the purchase to prove to be a good one, and I am relieved that I am no longer continually watching the original guard and wondering when it will finally fail once more.
There is a great deal to be said for having solved a nagging problem once and for all — and, of course, the expense of Basil’s flash new trim can reasonably be offset by what each new plastic replacement might have cost.
It has crossed my mind that Argyll might look quite smashing with a sage green guard; however, he is a 2013 Brompton, and his own chain guard is screwed firmly on, Brompton having addressed the issue, as they do, ongoing. Argyll will have to argue his case on aesthetics alone, rather than practicality. We will see what Dr. Diarist says to that . . .