Wolf Tooth has introduced a new LoneWolf Aero chainguide that’s designed to keep the chain in place when using a 1x (single chainring) setup during road, gravel and cyclocross riding, and it is already being used by Team Jumbo-Visma. There are various chainguides out there designed for 1x systems; are they a tacit admission from the cycle industry that 1x technology isn’t quite where it needs to be?
The new Wolf Tooth LoneWolf Aero chainguide was used by Jumbo-Visma riders on both time trial and road bikes at the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
Although we were told before the race started that current Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard would be riding 1x on all but one of the stages, we only saw him forego a second chainring on two occasions. He used the Wolf Tooth LoneWolf Aero chainguide both times.
SRAM has been keen to push 1x for road and gravel use since 2015, athough it says that it doesn't influence Jumbo-Visma in this direction. SRAM makes its products available but it's down to the riders and the teams to use what they like. SRAM says that it couldn't impose a particular product or system on a team even if it wanted to.
A challenge with a 1x setup is that there’s no front derailleur, hence no cage to help keep the chain on the chainring.
SRAM uses its X-Sync tooth design to try to eliminate issues. Essentially, you get tall, square teeth edges that are designed to engage the chain earlier than more triangular teeth, alternating with sharper and narrower teeth.
Back in the individual time trial on the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia, Primoz Roglic swapped to a 1x setup for the final climb up Monte Lussari. He used SRAM’s Red AXS XPLR drivetrain because he wanted the ultra-low gearing.
However, Roglic unshipped his chain when running over a pothole and lost a few seconds. As it turned out, he set an astonishing time to overhaul Geraint Thomas and ended up winning both the stage and the general classification so the mishap turned out to be irrelevant to the result – although it did add a whole lot of drama. If things had been tighter, though, questions would certainly have been made about the tech.
“The new LoneWolf Aero Chainguide prevents dropped chains on road, gravel, and CX bikes with 1x drivetrains,” says Wolf Tooth.
“The LoneWolf Aero Chainguide is similar to our existing GnarWolf Chainguide, and combines a low profile head that only covers the top and inboard side of the chain with our GuideLock quick adjustment system. This eliminates the need for shims and gives you security in a light, easy-to-use, and aerodynamically optimised chainguide solution.”
The LoneWolf Aero Chainguide uses the mount in place of a front derailleur. If your bike doesn’t have a braze-on front derailleur mount, clamps are available for metal bikes with round tubing in 28.6mm, 31.8mm, and 34.9mm diameters.
One of the advantages often put forward for a 1x system is saved weight thanks to the lack of the front derailleur and the use of only one chainring. Fitting this extra device reduces that advantage, but not by much.
Wolf Tooth says, “We think of this little chainguide as 30g of insurance for races where a dropped chain could cost you a shot at the podium.”
A SRAM Red eTap AXS front derailleur alone weighs about 144g.
The LoneWolf Aero Chainguide is made with a 6061-T6 machined aluminium base, stainless steel hardware, and an injection moulded head. Wolf Tooth says that head must be setup within 2mm of the chain for it to be effective.
“Three base sweep options cover the vast differences in chainring diameter from 38-62T,” it says. “Low sweep is for roughly 38-52T chainrings, mid sweep is for 52-58T, and high sweep is for 54-62T.
What Wolf Tooth calls its GuideLock quick adjustment system provides 8mm of inward/outward positioning to allow for differences in chainline.
The Wolf Tooth LoneWolf Aero Chainguide is priced at £36.
Wolf Tooth isn't alone in offering a chainguide designed specifically for a 1x system, but does its use by Jumbo-Visma suggest that SRAM's tech isn't as good as it should be? Or is that overegging it and this is just a sensible backup to avoid disaster? Let us know what you think.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.