Posted by Steve Newbauer
Chain tubes seem to be somewhat of a controversial issue among tadpole trikers. Some people just don’t like them and remove them. They replace them with a dual idler pulley setup. Some say that using chain tubes slows them up as the chain drags thru them and the friction involved is the culprit causing the slowup. Some just don’t like the appearance of chain tubes. They say they are unattractive. Some say that chain tubes are noisy and they object to having them because of this. I personally don’t buy into most of the objections people raise. If everything is set up correctly I think chain tubes are a great component to employ on a tadpole trike. They keep the chain cleaner while keeping the rider cleaner. They “manage” the chain keeping it from flopping around unnecessarily, keeping it from rubbing on the frame and also keep it in place, especially if the trike is folded.
A few years ago I decided to try eliminating the chain tubes and using a second idler pulley. I ran my trike that way for awhile, but I didn’t care much for it and went back to the original setup. In fact, I even added an additional chain tube on the back side. I personally think the argument about slowing one up is silly just as is the argument about safety flags slowing a trike up and/or making too much noise flapping around. There are always going to be people who think like this and that is ok. They can do what they want. It does bother me however when they try to talk others out of using these things. A good safety flag may very well save your life.
You can see in this picture of a folded Azub trike how well the chain tubes
control the chain keeping it in place and protecting the trike frame.
In managing a chain they keep it from making contact with the trike frame and rubbing the paint off of it. They keep the chain from making contact with the rider’s leg and leaving a “tattoo” on the skin or clothing. They keep the chain in place so it doesn’t get relocated somewhere it doesn’t belong and cause other problems. This also includes the fact that it helps eliminate our having to get our hands all messed up trying to get the chain back where it belongs. Keeping a lot of the chain enclosed eliminates a lot of exposure to external elements which get the chain dirty.
The way I look at it the trike manufacturers know what they are doing and they incorporate the use of chain tubes for very good reasons. Yes, they can be eliminated, but why would you want to? In doing so you are defeating the whole purpose of why they were installed. Not every chain tube installed from the manufacturer is set up properly. I will grant you that. I redid mine so that they sort of “float” and stay in line with where the chain moves to when shifting between the various sprockets. I even heated the chain tube and put a slight bend(curve) in it so it better lines up with the chain. I also flared the ends of the chain tubes so that the chain moves thru the chain tubes better. I don’t notice any drag or noise from the chain tubes and I definitely like my leg and clothing from not making contact with the chain thanks to the chain tubing. Lastly one thing I have observed when it comes to the use of chain tubes is that they can be too long or positioned wrong or held to solidly to where they interfere with the chain moving freely allowing proper shifting onto the sprockets … front or rear. This is all common sense stuff but, hey, it happens and needs to be corrected so that everything works right. (Right along with this I have also seen idler sprocket/pulleys positioned too close to the front derailleur and sprockets which do not allow the needed movement and alignment of the chain to shift properly onto the various sprockets. This can also be the case at the rear derailleur. This is especially true with homemade trikes or trikes where someone has replaced the original chain tubes and made them longer or placed them too far forward or back in the case where they are on the rear of the trike.)
So who needs chain tubes? In my opinion we all do. But, hey, you do whatever you want. Forest Gump had it right and they say you can’t fix it! Did I really say that? Shame on me! Hey, …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’ & ENJOY THE RIDE!