Cascade Components Announces New Chain Guides

Aug 31, 2021
by Cascade Components  
Prototype full guide


PRESS RELEASE: Cascade Components

We are excited to announce our first official foray into non-link related products with the release of our chain guide lineup! This consists of three different chain guide variations: a full guide, an upper guide, and a lower guide. Each of these feature our patent-pending chain guide geometry that allows for top of the line chain retention while being entirely non-contact, keeping weight down, and the keeping overall packaging of the guide minimal.

Full Guide
Full guide

First off we’ve got our full guide. This delivers chain retention that is solid enough for bike park laps and at 93g doesn’t weigh much either. In fact, we believe this is the lightest full guide on the market. The design of the upper and lower guide make it physically impossible to drop a chain and ensure a good amount of chain wrap regardless of how rough the trail gets. No matter how hard your chain is flying side to side or up and down, it won’t come off. You can’t even get it to come off if you sit there and pull on your chain while spinning the pedals. Plus it’s built tough enough to take some serious impacts so that when you’re bouncing off things in a rock garden you don’t have to worry about your chainring at all.

The guide is built such that the back plate is universal and the plastics are chainring specific. This minimizes the amount of unnecessary hardware and keeps things looking refined. If you wish to switch to a different chainring size, all that must be done is bolt new plastics on and you’re good to go. No fiddling with alignment is necessary. The plastics are held in the perfect spot every time.



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Specs and Details:
• UHMW upper guide
• Delrin lower guide/bash
• Weight: 92g (32T), 93g (30T)
• Designed, CNC’d, and assembled in the USA
• Cost: $177 USD.

A note on compatibility… This guide is designed to work with bikes that have mounting tabs designed to the ISCG-05 standard. If your bike is built to this standard it will fit, but not all bikes are. For more info on compatibility please visit our website.

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Upper Guide
Upper guide

Our upper only version of the guide takes the full guide and trims off the bottom guide and bash as well as that third mounting point. This is intended for those that want the most minimal chain guide solution possible or don’t have a third mounting point and can only run an upper guide. Weighing only 28g or 31g depending on chainring size makes this one extremely light guide. Even though this guide doesn’t have a lower portion, it’s still truly impossible to get your chain to drop. Some upper only guides out there will drop the chain if you back pedal (like to drop a pedal entering a turn), but this one won’t. Even if you derail the chain from the bottom of the ring, that will never make it past the guide so pedaling forward is all it takes to get it completely back on.

As with the full guide, the back plate is universal and the plastic guide is chainring size specific.

Specs and Details:
• UHMW upper guide
• Weight: 28g (32T), 31g (30T)
• Designed, CNC’d, and assembled in the USA
• Cost: $90 USD.

Lower Guide
Lower guide

Last but not least, there’s our lower only version of the guide. This one is for the bikes out there that have an idler or have an upper guide incorporated into the frame. Forbidden owners please note that this is not compatible with your bike, but we will have one specifically for it soon. Like the upper guide, this features the same geometry as the full guide but trimmed down to only contain the lower portion.

Again, the back plate is universal and the plastic bit is specific to chainring size.
Specs and Details:
• Delrin lower guide/bash
• Weight: 65g for both 30T and 32T
• Designed, CNC’d, and assembled in the USA
• Cost: $118 USD.

For more information click cascadecomponents.bike.


107 Comments

  • 90 2
 $177 is a lot more than every other chainguide that does the same job.
  • 14 9
 In CAD, the E.Thirteen race carbon chainguide is $230.99....which after converting funds, is about $7 more than the Cascade chainguide. That's not half-bad value for something made by a boutique company.

The only drawback I see is not having a lower tensioner pulley - which, for high speed tech riding here in BC, is an absolute must in order to reduce the back end chatter.
  • 12 2
 @SpecSRAM: The E13 also weighs 72 grams more, which makes the Cascade a bargain for all the gram counters out there.
  • 3 0
 @stonant: which ain't bad, considering the E13 has a carbon backplate and polycarbonate everything else lol.

If this came with a tensioner, I'd be all over it.
  • 27 6
 More accurate comparison is either the e13 TRS+ ($89/119g) or MRP AMG ($99/111g). Both have alloy backplates and no lower armature like the cascade unit. Welcome to the reality of domestic manufacturing. Nothing wrong with this reality and props to cascade for making em domestically. American consumers sure love to hype "just make it in the US" only to complain about price and go fill up our shopping carts at walmart full of disposable cheapest crap possible...... because #freedumb!
  • 21 1
 I haven't run guides in years. What's the point?
  • 6 5
 @SpecSRAM: alot of guides are skipping the lower tensioner in replacement for better small bump compliance. As the chainstay grows, the chain need to take up slack. Ideally the growth needs to be equal between top and bottom to minimize pedal induced kickback. Using a lower guide pully increases the growth on the bottom section of the chain, forcing the freehub to engage sooner and decreasing small bump compliance.
This guide is actually a very welcome design, and would love to see how well it stacks up to E13 and MRP.
  • 8 1
 I also just noticed the only two options are for 30t and 32t... I'm out.
  • 2 0
 I like this and I like that they're branching out into a different direction a little.

You can buy a $4000 wheelset or a $500 wheelset and both sell well. The market should support this.
  • 2 1
 @SpecSRAM: You know bike components have got to specialized when they cost too much?
But chain guides have all ways been weak at keeping your chain on or make it almost impossible to get your chain back on when it does come off?
  • 2 1
 IDK, looks like better then average protection down below. = because if you use their aftermarket links your bike is likely dropping deeper into travel then your BB height was designed for!! Smile
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: exactly. Very noticeable on vpp bikes
  • 3 0
 It'll increase chain retention by 23%.
  • 3 4
 @makripper: Agreed! Although somebody seems to not like what I had to say as I have been down voted for pointing out a mechanical fact. Lol. Children.
  • 4 0
 @makripper: I honest run a guide for the bash guard. Personally don't really need the retention.
  • 6 0
 @jomacba: you have been down voted because it is exactly the opposite, lower guide pulley reduces the lower chain growth in a similar way as upper pulley of high pivot does.
  • 1 3
 @lkubica: sorry, but that is incorrect. It limits overall chain growth, feeding excess chain to the overall growth of the drivetrain.
  • 3 4
 The full guide needs to be compared to other full guides like the sxg. No upper only guide comes even remotely close to the level of chain retention. The full guide is for intended to deliver chain retention good enough for dh use. The upper only guide would be the one to compare to the likes of the amg.
  • 2 0
 @CascadeComponents: I've tested the SXG. Great concept, but poor execution. The alloy one is too soft, and the carbon one boomerang is poorly designed. Both catastrophic failures. This is why this guide intrigues me.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: would love to see a 34t and a 36t version too.
  • 1 1
 @lkubica: Just to add, lower chain growth is not the issue, it's upper chain growth. Limiting lower chain growth increases upper chain growth, which increases kickback.
  • 3 1
 @jomacba: lower chain growth is as issue, just not as big as upper. Each time you compress suspension your rear derailleur cage must move and with a clutch it takes a considerable force. Enough to hurt small bump compliance. So if you use bearing shock mounts, coil springs or unicorn sperm to reduce shock stiction yet use a derailleur with a clutch (especially shimano), you are just throwing you money to the closet.
  • 1 0
 @SpecSRAM: that is not value
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: what if the clutch is disengaged?
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: there are 2 different things going on when suspension compresses. If the pivot point is above the chain line, as the suspension compresses, the upper chain tries to grow, which causes pedal kickback. But when you pedal, that pulls the back wheel down, which is your anti squat. If the pivot is below the chain line, the upper chain shrinks, and your pedaling actually compresses the suspension. The lower chain is below the upper by the diameter of the chainring. So, particularly with high pivot bikes, the lower span gets longer under compression. Putting a lower idler on helps with this, as it moves the chainline up and closer to the pivot point. You just need a longer total chain length. This all matters because the clutch is trying to stop the pulley cage from extending forwards at speed. Which is fighting your suspension. And probably wearing out that clutch.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I somewhat agree with this, however the pivot point isn't the only contributor. Let's take a horst link for example. If the rear pivot on the dropout sits lower than the axle, you do have some rearward axle path movement. Provided the main pivot sits above the BB (on a horizontal axis) there should be not shortening of the chainstau length (center of BB to center of rear axle).
Overall however, I agree with you.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: totally agree - I was keeping it simple, as it's easy to visualise how the back wheel moves on an Orange, and rather harder for a Santa Cruz, or even a Spesh, where the instantaneous pivot point can move all over the place
  • 2 1
 @makripper:
If you dont need a guide Your slow
  • 2 0
 @jomacba:

Adding wrap with a lower guide usually reduces chain growth through travel, does not increase it.
  • 1 1
 @makripper: bash guard, extra security when going jump lines
  • 1 0
 @AckshunW: It will reduce overall chain growth, but that is not the issue. The issue is chain growth on the top section of chain (the section responsible for driving the rear wheel). By feeding extra chain into the bottom section through travel, the top section is forced to take up the slack fed by the lower guide pully. This action engages the freehub, and generally stimulates the bikes antisquat, or better known as kickback. (This generally does not apply to bikes with idlers).
In certain instances the lower guide pully may be requires as were seeing with shimanos prototype new downhill derailleur, to which the cage seems excessively small, and likely does not have the ability to make up the slack.
One other theory is the derailleur clutch impacting suspension performance. This is definitely an issue with older clutch mechanisms, but less of an issue with newer derailleurs.
That being said, the impact of the derailleur clutch on the suspension has less impact than the freehub engaging, and will generally be more consistant.
In fact, what gear you have the bike in based off the speed your riding will impact the suspension performance.
Feel free to run it, but in my testing the bike will perform better without it (again with the exception of anything with an idler). This is why we're seeing most professional riders ditch it.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: What grade aluminum did you use? Also I'd like to see the back plate fully surround the BB in order to properly distribute the load over all 3 ISCG tabs. This is the same design MRP utilizes on their SXG carbon guide, and a simple broken chain tore off the top guide and top section of the back plate at the ISCG tab. This constant effort to save weight at the cost of durability seems counter intuitive, especially for something that is designed to take a large impact (or at least shoukd be designed to take a large impact). So far I think E13 has everybody beat in this department, where they lack is in the lower chain retention area. That being said, I feel there is alot of room for improvement with the E13 guide.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: The plates are 6061-T6. With where the bottom two bolts are positioned relative to the bash, connecting the third bolt doesn't actually add much stiffness. Here's a video of the same jump that makes an appearance in one of the videos above where I didn't have nearly enough speed, still went for it, cased, and had the bash guard bottom out on the rock. www.pinkbike.com/video/541486 That impact was actually bad enough to taco the rear wheel and you could feel the sudden impact when the suspension stopped compressing and the bash guard nailed the rock. No bash guards were harmed in the making of that video.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: That doesn't look overly significant of an impact to the guide itself. I'd like to see more evidence of plastic deformation of the lower bash while showing the backing plate integrity staying intact. Again, I love the design, but have see too many guides fail, and/or unevenly distribute load onto the ISCG tabs.
Adding in the option of a 34t and a 36t option would be great.
Case in point, I was not the biggest fan of carbon wheels several years ago.
Then santa cruz came along with there reserves, and made a video of Danny McCaskill absolutely trying to destroy them. Eventually he did, but what it took blew my mind.
When they released the DH version, I was all over them.
Honestly one of the best decisions I've made. Love the ride feel, and where I would go through several alloy wheels a season, I have gone through 2 rear wheels in nearly 3 seasons. Exercising the brilliant warranty they back their products with.
I want a product that is performance and quality first, I don't care about cost because one way or another I always end up spending the money anyway.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: It doesn't look like a significant impact because nothing became of it, which is how it should be. If a guard hits a rock like that and doesn't just skim off then it should be redesigned to do so. The bike bounced off the guard and never reached bottom of travel because that. In fact if you watch closely, the wheels actually leave the ground for a moment after landing because of the bounce off the guard.
  • 4 0
 These have been on their website for a week or two . They also have some brake parts that the link goes nowhere .

That being said, these aren’t compatible with my Santa Cruz so I’m bummed. It’s really Santa Cruz’s fault , bastards
  • 2 0
 I just ordered one to try… everyone says no on Santa Cruz but interestingly enough, the template lined up on my XL TB4 so I’m going to try…
  • 5 3
 In the video, pulling the chain to the side also seemed to cause the chain to jam and the test had to release pressure on the pedals and the chain in order to continue pedaling. This confirms my suspicion that these kind of one sided chain guides are little more than a good way to break chains. If a retainer ring and a clutch mech aren't enough for you, go with a two sided guide so you don't have to choose between maybe dropping a chain and maybe breaking a chain.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. Not exactly a hard hitting and compelling test video.
  • 17 3
 That's a whole lot of speculation. Chains don't run smoothly when you bend them as far to the side as possible. Considering the number of miles we have put on the guide can definitely confirm that it does not break chains...
  • 2 2
 @CascadeComponents: Show it with continued pedaling when the chain is pushed to the side...
  • 3 0
 @justinfoil: If I do that will you put up a video of a chain guide with two sides pedaling while the chain is pulled way over to the side like that?
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: I'm not the one trying to sell something. I have no horse in this race, no burden of proof.
  • 4 0
 @justinfoil: Well if you're comparing it to something that you haven't truly looked at in depth you can't really compare it. If think a little about how a chain actually derails you would find that continuous pedaling isn't actually necessary to get it to hop off since it doesn't slowly ride off the ring. In that video we take the cranks through about a half rotation. If you don't have an adequate guide it takes about 1/8 of a rotation to get the chain to derail and 1/4 of a rotation to completely drop it from on side of the ring. So we'll do video of continuous pedaling, but it'll be the exact same outcome.
  • 1 1
 @CascadeComponents: 100% _not_ doubting it holds the chain on better. It's obvious that preventing the chain from bouncing away from the ring means there is more engagement on the teeth so that the teeth can do more work to guide the chain back even with large vertical deflection and small-to-medium horizontal deflection.

Wondering what happens if the chain deflects horizontally enough that an inner link misses the narrow tooth and falls to the outside of the chainring. With a two-sided guide, the outside of the guide would prevent this by directly guiding the chain back in line immediately before the engagement point. With the one-sided guide, if the chain falls to the outside, it's relying on the chain and teeth to guide the deflected links back in line with the ring just before engagement. I'm not convinced the chain is strong enough at those angles to pull itself back in line with the guide also holding it down.

The narrow-wide ring of course helps by reducing the potential deflection, but as your video shows, it still can deflect enough to jam up and need a release of crank pressure or slight back pedal. But if someone is, say, powering out of a rock garden and putting down some big watts on big chunky terrain, and the chain is majorly deflected, they may not have time to release pressure or backpedal a bit before that chain has to fight itself and the guide to try and get back in line, and I think the chain will lose.

To borrow something you said, considering the number of miles I've put on a just a narrow-wide-plus-clutch with zero janky-trail-induced chain drops and zero broken chains, and also considering how many miles I've put on triple- and double-rings with a front derailleur with a few chain drops and lots of broken chains; I'm not sure I'd risk a break over a (slight, because you can't really beat zero drops) retention increase.

If I have to choose between a rogue stick deflecting the chain and causing a drop vs a rogue stick causing a break... I'm going with the drop.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: Because of how the guiding surfaces are positioned in close proximity to the top of the chain, it's impossible for a link to fall outside of the chainring as it enters the guide on the full guide. On the other guides that are only on one side, we have tested what happens when you derail the chain from one side of the ring and apply a large load to the pedals with the intent of breaking things. The guide deflects to the side enough for the chain to pass through. This scratches the plastic but leaves the drivetrain unharmed. The amount of force is high enough where when riding if that situation is encountered it gives you a moment to think "do I want to smash my pedals really hard and drop it on purpose or pedal in the correct direction and get it back on?"
  • 8 5
 This is great. Well done Cascade! With what you have been doing so far I'm looking forward to seeing what other cool stuff you come up with!
  • 8 0
 Thanks! Apparently pb commenters can't comprehend positivity and are downvoting you. It'll be fun to see how the comments go for the brake caliper...
  • 2 0
 @CascadeComponents: SO ready for the brake calipers!! Please release em soon so I can throw them in with some DH season left!
  • 4 1
 Looks awesome. Similar to the MRP sxg which I love and have been using for years. Too bad this one only comes in a 32 tooth max size.
  • 2 0
 Is that white frame a Stumpjumper evo? If so..does it have all three iscg mounts? Heard this could void warranties if you used a bash guard. Anyone know if that’s still the case?
  • 2 1
 This is the newer Evo model so it has all three.
  • 4 0
 Comical price is comical US dollar price is insane then pounds sterling price... lol no thanks
  • 1 0
 I saw the lower guide and thought maybe it would be a good alternative to the lower pulley on my dreadnaught.. Glad cascade read my mind and is coming out with something soon for forbidden bikes. excited to see what they come up with.
  • 4 1
 Ridiculously expensive and any functional narrow-wide chainring removes the need for one anyway.
  • 1 0
 be interested to try this on my enduro, have absolutely no luck with any other topguide ive tried so far, dropped a chain 3 times this weekend through the same long root section, very annoying.
  • 1 0
 I like the design and look of it, however 32 max tooth for bike park laps looks Kinda silly, majority of DH/Park bikes designed and have 34/36 upfront;

I use 34, and would bump it to 36 as soon as it will be worn
  • 1 0
 There'll be a 36/34 version of it down the road. The plastic bits look a little silly if they step all the way down to a 30 from a 36 so the chain ring compatibility will always be in pairs like that.
  • 2 0
 @CascadeComponents: oh, cool! then count me in!
Agree on the look
  • 2 0
 Mine is coming soon, and it’s going on a Druid. Hopefully it resolves the drag issue with the stock chain guide
  • 1 0
 cascadecomponents.eu/products/iscg-05-lower-guide looks like it's not compatible with Forbidden frames. I got the e13 lg1+ for my soon to arrive deviate highlander. (currently using it on a patrol and i don't find it that draggy)
  • 1 0
 On a Druid, you'll have more derailleur cage rotation during suspension movement if you don't have the lower roller to raise the lower portion of chain.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: @steviejks: I installed it last night, it fits fine. I tried to drop the chain intentionally on the stand and couldn’t. We’ll see how it behaves on the trail, but so far so good, and it’s definitely less draggy than the e.13.

I did have to remove 4 links from the chain, so now it works with the same chain tension as before.
  • 5 4
 Lol I could make a chain guide that appears to never drop a chain too if I stop trying to derail it as soon as it gets to the chainring
  • 10 7
 I don't think you get it. It cannot leave the chainring no matter how far to the side you pull it.
  • 11 0
 Damn Cascade is taking no shit in this comment section
  • 8 1
 @stumphumper92: We get enough of it as it is with links. Doesn't put you in a mood to listen to it for something as straight forward as a chain guide.
  • 2 0
 @Cascade Components, Any thoughts given to elliptical rings? Different ‘plastics’, perhaps?
  • 4 2
 Elliptical rings: no. Different plastics: will have those up soon.
  • 2 0
 Bummer, back when I went with a single front ring it was mainly because I wanted to run an oval ring. I'm currently running the One Up guide and bash plate (which is compatible with oval rings). It works well for me so I'm not in the market for something else. Just wanted to say congrats on the new product. Seems like a very good option for people with a round chainring indeed!
  • 1 0
 I guess it’s lucky that everyone threw away their iscg old frames immediately when a new standard came out so wouldn’t need one of these
  • 1 0
 I think the Absolute Black titanium bash guard is lighter at 69g. Both look great either way. Not like the weight matters too much.
  • 1 0
 That one isn't a full guide though. We don't do a guide that's upper only with a bash guard. Upper only guide is way lighter.
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: Ooops, looks like oval only.
  • 4 2
 Does this work with oval chainrings?
  • 2 1
 Guessing not
  • 3 0
 Nah they said no on Instagram
  • 1 0
 @bigbrett: Bummer. Thanks for the response.
  • 2 0
 Make us some cranks!!! My link is beautiful, cranks would be awesome!
  • 1 0
 Agreed! Some polished aluminum cranks that aren’t as ridiculously expensive as the Hopes would be sweet. For all the dozens of people cranking out beautiful stems, nobody seems interested in making a similar crankset.
  • 5 0
 @dancingwithmyself: If you want cranks that aren’t ridiculously expensive cascade may not be the best people to ask or did you not look at the price of this?
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponts what's the rear shock link on the Enduro? A mullet link of your own or WRP?
  • 1 0
 BRILLIANT!!! =D ---> But what about Oval chainrings & a chain tensioner version? *EPIC PUPPY FACE*
  • 1 0
 Also, can i run the lower bash guard only on my Hightower V2?
  • 4 0
 Lets hope not...
  • 2 0
 I don’t think so , the tolerances for this device to work require round chainrings
  • 1 0
 It probably works as well as the stock one, but it sure looks nicer.
  • 3 2
 The front of the bash guard looks like it could get hung up on a rock.
  • 6 5
 It's literally designed to avoid exactly that.
  • 3 3
 Everything theese guys makes just keep getting better and better. Keep it comming!
  • 1 0
 What’s it do for my geometry? I don’t get it
  • 1 3
 Looks like it might work, but will it work on a race coarse or the rough rocky East coast like Creek, Windham, and Thunder?
But it looks pretty though.
  • 1 0
 @Fifty50Grip: I’m going to say no it’s not. I’d say minimum is the SXg by MRP if you don’t want a roller.
  • 2 1
 Well if Highland is worth anything it works great on the rocks there. Skipped it of quite a number of rocks and no issues at all. It has actually hit a rock hard enough that the same impact tacoed the rear wheel and it was fine.
  • 1 1
 Size specific an only two sizes.....?
Nahhh
  • 11 4
 My dude the vast majority of chainrings are those sizes. More to follow down the road so chill for a moment.
  • 2 1
 @CascadeComponents: lack of adjustment tho.... Still a deal breaker for me
  • 6 1
 @nojzilla: how often do you really change chainring size?
  • 1 1
 @CascadeComponents: recently quite a bit, on a new build gone from 34 to 32 oval an that's only due to the limitations of the frame otherwise I'd be pushing 36 oval. Another thing is I have a good few bikes at any one time so the need to swap parts over is a thing, for me anyway.
I have to say though, Lovely looking product!!
(I had to return the first guide I bought as it interfered withe frames pivot, I'd hate to be a bike parts desighner nowerdays!)
  • 2 0
 @CascadeComponents: I should also add, it's flat as a pancake where I live, hence the want for bigger rings, but, when I go to the Welsh hills I would swap out for a smaller ring.
  • 1 0
 @nojzilla: Does your rear mech allow for the difference or do you have an extra pair of quicklinks in your chain to modify the chain length accordingly?
  • 1 0
 @vinay: usually just put a different chain on

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