Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Cycling fans received the worst news last week. Both the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Dallas, Texas this year, and the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Traditionally these Spring cycling festivals are where the bike industry debuts all its new toys. Without them, there’s going to be a void in product news for a while. Also, because the virus is pushing back pro racing, too – another product launchpad.
Luckily, show and race cancellations haven’t slowed product innovations and launches yet. So, while I won’t be able to see it in person at one of the bike shows, I did recently learn of a brilliant new tool that I think is well worth a look.
It’s the Chain Lift from the company of the same name. As soon as I saw their press release, I ordered it. Because their new tool is a problem-solver that makes some of the most common tasks on bicycles easier. In fact, the name Chain Lift hardly does it justice in my opinion. I would have named it Chain Tamer or some such.
Gets the Chain Out of the Way
What the Chain Lift does is lift and hold the chain off of the cassette cogs. It can do this because it’s attached outboard of the bicycle and has articulated arms outside it, too. They hook onto the chain and once activated they move it and the rear derailleur away from the cogs.
Once the Chain Lift is in place and holding the chain like this, the rear wheel is easier to remove and install because there’s no interference from the chain or derailleur. No longer do you have to fight with those parts to get the wheel to go into the dropouts and keep the chain on the correct cassette cog. Instead, you simply hold the wheel and put it in place in the frame.
The Chain Lift also makes it easier to spin the rear wheel while it’s in place in the frame to diagnose/hear and repair disc brake rubbing issues. Because the chain isn’t attached, the cassette spins silently meaning you can finally hear even the slightest rub.
Plus, with the Chain Lift holding the chain and derailleur in place, it’s much easier to install the bike on a wheel-off indoor trainer. You won’t need to touch the chain or derailleur (no more greasy hands!). And, since the chain is nicely stretched out and wide open, it’s a breeze to place the bike down onto the trainer’s cassette and locate the frame dropouts on the trainer, too.
To fit most bicycle drivetrains the Chain Lift comes with several installation pins. These fit inside the derailleur attaching bolt to give the Chain Lift a secure mounting location.
I have SRAM and Shimano-equipped road and mountain bikes and I’m looking forward to seeing if the Chain Lift will fit all of them. Right now they’ve sold out their first run of Chain Lifts. So, I’m on the waiting list for the next batch. I’m excited to try it and see if it’s as nice as it looks. It’s one of those why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-before products to me and exciting to see.
For more information, visit https://chainlift.com/. The retail price is $79, but right now they’re offering a 15% discount due to being sold out. So you’ll save a little if you order. They say they’ll begin shipping in mid March.
The best way to understand the Chain Lift is to watch their three videos.
Removing the rear wheel showing how Chain Lift attaches and the steps :
Removing a disc brake rear wheel:
Removing a rear wheel and putting the bike in a “smart” (wheel-off) trainer:
Ride total: 9,576
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.