White Lightning make a whole bunch of oils and potions to lube your bicycle with, and they now make the Chain Johnny which is a, um, sheath to protect all those bicycle oils from getting onto things that you don't want oil on, or stop it being washed off.
Invented by David Bolch, a former professional team soigneur to the Saturn, US Postal and Discovery Channel cycling teams, the Chain Johnny is a rip-resistant, 2-ply rubber/nylon cover for your road or mountainbike's drivetrain to protect other stuff from oily smears or chainring rips.
It works when it's being transported in the car or kept indoors. It's also water resistant so the drivetrain can be protected on the roof of the car, or if the bike is stored outside or in the garage for any time.
The Johnny won't cover pedals so there's the tiniest bit of faff getting the cranks into the correct upright position when fitting but apart from that it's a simple operation; slide the fatter end of the Chain Johnny over the chainset, pull the other end over the rear mech, pull the rear flap round the back and over the top run of chain and round the seatstay then press the Velcro bits together to hold it all in place. Job done.
White Lightning recommends you shift the chain into specific gears for a good fit but I never bothered with that, or plain forgot, and it was just fine. The Chain Johnny doesn't actually wrap over the cassette to shield it completely, but it does cover it, protecting it and other things from it.
At first glance the Chain Johnny looks like one of those kooky things you see in the small back-page adverts in magazines, or something you might see on a shopping channel at three in the morning - a home-inventors bright idea that solves a problem that isn't really there. But actually it's a lot more useful than I ever thought it would be. If you throw your bike in the back of the car a lot, I do, it saves the car and anything that you might squash in alongside it from chain related grime and chainring scars, something that's especially handy after gritty rides, and it also keeps oily crap off you when man-handling the bike.
Plus, it's a lot more pleasant than the manky collection of rags and blankets usually pressed into protective service. On top of that if your bike lives indoors with you because of cramped accommodation or because the bike stays in the house with you, just because, well, you know - then it saves er, 'discussions' about oily streaks on cats and floaty clothing.
I'm not so sure about trusting it for when the bike's on a roof-rack, for while the Chain Johnny protects the majority of the drivetrain there are big gaps round the back where hi-speed rain can easily find a way in, so it's in no way a hermetic seal against motorway moisture. Nor for bikes left in damp garages or outside where the Chain Johnny looks like an effective little rust-promoting device, keeping any wandering wetness trapped inside.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Chain Johnny. I thought it was going to be one of those useless bits of bike-related tatt, the sort of thing the well-meaning relative gives you for Christmas that goes straight on Ebay the next day. It's a genuinely useful bit of kit if you frequently shoehorn your bike into the car for rides or races. It's also handy if other people insist on sharing the house with your bikes, avoiding black marks on clothes as they brush past, and it shows you're making an effort.
It will keep the drivetrain clean when the rest of the bike is being smeared with dead flies when it's on a roof-rack, and repel most wetness. Bear in mind though, that the design of the Chain Johnny means if left unchecked it could make quite a counter-productive reservoir for water if well-meaningly used to protect a bike whilst outside.
Surprisingly useful chain sheath for home and car protection.
road.cc test report
Make and model: White Lightning The Chain Johnny
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The White Lightning Chain Johnny solves the problem of how to transport bikes without making a mess. Anyone who has ever loaded a bicycle into their car probably has battle scars on their upholstery: a tear from a sharp gear or a messy grease stain. Now, White Lightning's cover protects both rides''the vehicle's interior and the bicycle's drivetrain. It is also water resistant to protect the drivetrain itself when transporting bicycles on vehicle-mounted bike racks or storing them in the garage during the winter. Apartment and college dorm dwellers are also using the Chain Johnny to shield their greasy chains when storing their bikes indoors. Protect your valuables, put a Johnny on it.
I'd agree with the less messy transport solution and oily chain barrier if the bike is stored inside, less convinced about the roof-rack and external storage uses though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rip-resistant, 2-ply rubber/nylon, fits all road and MTB bikes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It kept the drivetrain from grubbing everything up and tearing holes in things when being carried in the car, job done.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It kept grime off the car and my stuff. Although if you've seen my car you'd wonder why I care.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, surprisingly.
Would you consider buying the product? I wouldn't previously have thought so, but yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he’s not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he’s not doing either of those he’s pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he’s agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours doesn’t. He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.