Shimano's Wild New Shifting Chain Guide - First Look

Mar 31, 2018
by Mike Levy  


In a move that's taken the cycling world by complete surprise, Shimano, the usually conservative drivetrain and fishing giant, has released a novel chain guide system that allows riders to use more than one chainring. Not only does the small, moving mechanical guide keep you from dropping a chain, it also moves it from one chainring to another. This gives riders a massive gearing range to choose from.

The novel guide, which can be had in bolt-on and clamp-on versions to fit a variety of different bikes, is controlled in much the same way your rear derailleur is operated: with a cable that's pulled or released by way of a shifter, only this one is found on the left side of the handlebar rather than the right. While your rear shifter has up to twelve indexing clicks, Shimano's moveable chain guide system has either two or three that correspond with a special crankset that lets riders mount two or even three chainrings. Yup, you read that right - THREE differently sized chainrings.

Being able to run up to three chainrings means that we could have a 36-speed drivetrain when combined with their rumoured 12-speed system. Want to pedal your bike up a climb at a pace that would make crawling seem like a dangerous, high-speed endeavor? If so, you'll be able to pair a 50-tooth cog with a 22-tooth chainring to get a wall-scaling 0.44 low ratio, or a 10-tooth cog and wild 42-tooth 'ring for a 4.20 ratio, which is by far the highest ratio. Sure, there they'll be a few repeats in there, but THIRTY-SIX-SPEEDS, SO WHO CARES.

The 10-50 spread cassette on its own provides a 500-percent range, but when you factor in the 22-tooth and 42-tooth 'ring (that's as large as some cogs!) you end up with a mind-boggling 950-percent range. SRAM'S Eagle system has a paltry 500-percent that surely leaves many riders asking for easier low gears, and even a 12-speed Pinion C.Line gearbox sports a barely manageable 600-percent range.

I haven't tried Shimano's moveable chain guide and multi-chainring drivetrain yet, but I'm blown away that we've been getting by without a 22/50 combo and 950-percent range. That's about to change and riding our bikes will get even less challenging, thank God. The days of having to sweat and expend energy to get to the top of the mountain will soon be behind us, brothers and sisters, which, when you take into account IMBA's new robotic Flowmaster trail sanitizing machine, will ensure that absolutely anyone and everyone can enjoy mountain biking without having to work hard. The future is here!
The moving chain guide, shown here in a blurry ''spy photo,'' can be configured to work with two, or even three, chainrings, and it's operated by a shifter on the left side of the handlebar.
The moving chain guide, shown here in a blurry ''spy photo,'' can be configured to work with two, or even three, chainrings, and it's operated by a shifter on the left side of the handlebar.

Shimano has been mum on compatibility, but it's highly likely that frame manufacturers will have to adapt their upcoming designs to provide the necessary clearance for three chainrings. In order for this to happen, I expect to see skinnier bottom bracket shells, less tire clearance, and longer chainstay lengths, all changes that will make your current bike obsolete and leave you having to trade it for PlayStation games on the Pinkbike buy and sell. I bet they'll soon be a time when we question how we ever got by with fixed chain guides.

Word is that the concept has been in development since the mid-1900s, so while Shimano hasn't released pricing or availability yet, you can expect the system to be highly developed and completely trouble-free when they do decide to make it available to the public sometime in 2018. I bet it'll be easy to set up, too. I suspect that SRAM will respond with a movable chain guide of their own, so keep an eye out for that as well.


51 Comments

  • + 97
 actually a great idea. Allows the rider to run a smaller cassette, putting that sprung weight into unsprung weight down low where you want it and also more range than eagle. Good on ya shimano!
  • - 93
flag clarky78 (Apr 1, 2018 at 1:02) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah, except the Shimano cassettes weight a ton. SRAM is much lighter. Pointless argument.
  • + 6
 What a radical idea! Almost like an idea that lost fashion.
  • + 62
 Damn in before flood of comment and I got nothing. This was my moment. 28.99
  • + 15
 Pinkbike needs to put a bit more effort on these, the 559 Endurrad Wheelset from 2014 was pretty spot on

www.pinkbike.com/news/felt-bicycles-559-endurrad-enduro-specific-wheelsize-2014.html
  • + 6
 This is gold standard reporting, I for one can't wait to see this new device in production in 19 days time.
  • + 6
 Still waiting for my Enduro sash to show up in the post too... Frown

m.pinkbike.com/news/exclusive-first-look-prototype-enduro-sash-2014.html
  • + 14
 Joke all you want, but some of us still have 3 chainrings.
#3x8rules
#26tilIcanbuyanewbike
  • + 10
 Oh Shimano, so close! Don't you know shifters aren't cool!? It needs to be a "handlebar mounted remote" to be on trend. We can expect Sram to get the marketing-speak right, at least.
  • + 11
 Remember when PB turned it into a porn site on april fools or the chain slayer those were good
  • + 21
 Simpler times.
  • + 10
 @mikelevy:
I liked when Pinkbike turned the website upside down.
  • + 1
 Or when they became drunk cyclist
  • + 3
 @tornateo: if on Windows OS hold CTRL ALT and hit the down arrow
  • + 9
 Seems like everyday is april fools
  • + 6
 is this going to be compatible with my new square chainring?
  • + 0
 22 tooth to 50 tooth, holy cow. I used to think gears were of utmost importance, but then I found I selected maybe 4 gears out of 24 on an average ride. I think my problem is I don't care, like 18th gear works for 95% of everything, then like 12th for hills. Does anyone know what RPM you're supposed to spin at? I find 65RPM comfortable. I guess since bicyclists make so little power, the more gears the better THEORETICALLY...............But like honestly I just treat my bikes like a single speed unless the incline is too hard, and I know all about gears and everything, it's just easier. It kind of goes hand in hand with, "Keep It Simple Stupid" a very important life lesson.
  • + 2
 Until you have to replace your cassette because 1 or 2 cogs skip when you put a new chain on.
  • + 1
 @Kramz So basically you don't ride technical trails is what you're saying
  • + 4
 More than one chainring? Brilliant! Also a chainguide? Brilliant!
  • + 2
 April fools! Unfortunately, based on history to date....it might be real news.
  • + 3
 my favorite part is the dig at imba lol
  • + 3
 I heard it would be even better if that cassette went to 51 though.
  • + 4
 hahahahaha!!! nice one
  • + 2
 "...a 4.20 ratio, which is by far the highest ratio." I see what you did there.
  • + 2
 Ahhh, it'll never catch on...
  • + 2
 If any one likes this idea, I have a box full of these strange parts?
  • + 2
 If this was posted on April 1st it could have been funny.
  • + 2
 Everyone wants to be commodian, but in truth, this is a shit job.
  • + 14
 My grandpa was a commodian. He said it was crappy.
  • + 6
 My grandpa was a Cambodian. He has no idea what this is.
  • + 1
 I HAVE 3 chainrings on ALL MY 4 bikes !! I LOVE IT !!!!!
  • + 2
 The busiest guy on pinkbike lets the cat out of the bag.
As suspected.
He’s a punter.
  • + 0
 @jflb: cheers Beer
  • + 0
 So good. Amazing really. It's funny because it's true. Wonder if Shimano will get this or are they still stuck in 2004
  • + 1
 You had me at "allows better sealing around the bottom bracket bearings"
  • + 1
 "Keep you from dropping a chain" if only...
  • + 3
 ...people knew how limit screws work.
  • + 1
 Will this come out in XT also!! I'll order one now!!!
  • + 1
 Took me a second! Haha!
  • + 1
 Innovative!
  • + 0
 April FOOLS, YOU FOOLS!
  • + 0
 Nice joke!
  • + 0
 fuckin hell.
  • - 1
 It's still 3/31 night (10pm) in USA....
  • - 1
 Fail.The article was written on March 31st.
  • + 0
 No carbon - I’m out.
  • - 3
 I think this was called a front derailleur back in the old days.
  • + 5
 WHAT!?
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