While they give us much joy, bikes are funny things. Weather it’s those gears that just won’t sit right, the bottom bracket creak that won’t go away or the weird noise you just can’t pinpoint they always find new ways to frustrate us.
Noise on a bike really frustrates me and when I say this, I mean the type of noise most other riders would ignore and crack on. Something most of us will agree on though is that chain slap is something we shouldn’t have to deal with!
Developed in collaboration with downhill mountain bike legend, Chris Kovarik The STFU system is designed to keep your bike quiet but also minimise wear. The units are very light weight and are made of a dual compound, hard plastic inner ‘skeleton’ with a soft rubber outer to damp any noise.
On the bike, your chain runs through the 2 guides. Under tension from pedalling the chain remains completely clear of these ensuring no additional resistance. However, when things get rowdy, the chain is limited in how far it can move both up and down but also sideways. This prevents the chain overextending prolonging its life. The straighter chainline also allows you to get the power down fractionally quicker when needed.
While the STFU system is likely to have a love / hate following based on visuals it is incredibly well made and well thought out. The trail version (there are DH and single speed specific versions as well) on test here covers everything up to a 10 to 52t range.
As long as you have a bit of patience, fitting the STFU system is fairly easy.
Once you’ve measured the distances on your chainstay between cassette and cranks, done some basic maths to get the correct locations for the guides it’s just a case of cutting at the correct number on the guide to get the right height to allow the chain to move freely.
Once you have all the measuring and cutting done it’s a simple job of picking the end cap that fits your chainstay best and zip tying the guides in place. Once adjusted you’re good to go.
I did find during fitting that the guides sit a little lower than measured once their down tight. I’d suggest cutting the guide one space longer than you think and trying that first. You can take more off but not really add it back on.
Fitted straight on the frame or on top of an adhesive or factory fitted chainstay protector the STUFU was solid however if you have a neoprene wrap or similar, you’d probably want to remove this to avoid any movement.
On the trail
I’ve been running the guides on my main full suspension and hard tail bikes for the last five months. These have seen a real mix of riding from family pedals right through to enduro racing and some uplift days.
I’d say the system has been pushed hard and honesty, on the trail I cannot fault the STFU system. It has been solid in all weather conditions and scenarios’ and hasn’t moved or needed readjusted. There are no obvious signs of wear, the guides have never caught my feed and haven’t disappeared off into the spokes!
The chain has been silent checking the chain in the old ‘arc test’ it does seem to have less lateral wear than I would have expected after this time. I haven’t noticed the chain engage any quicker, however, I’ll put this down as the additional 1% the pros are looking for! Finally, given there is considerably more paint left on my frame than a normal 5 months use I’d say STFU are onto a winner.
During this summer’s DH racing I’ve noticed the STFU system appearing on several high-profile DH racers bikes. Some feature the 2 guides as packaged where some have opted for a single guide. I spoke with Kris about this who highlighted there would still be movement of the chain towards the seat stay but 1 would provide more control than none – some experimenting will be happening around this.
As an amateur rider I really like the STFU guide especially on my hardtail which experiences a lot more chain slap than the full sus. I think at £27 its reasonably priced and looks like it will stand the test of time.
It seems obvious to me that if the chain has less space to go where it shouldn’t be going our bikes are going to be more efficient and parts will last longer – this can’t be a bad thing given the lack of stock and increasing prices were currently experiencing!
Visit STFU directly for more info: www.stfubike.com