The FeedBack Sports Chain Keeper is an expensive, beautifully made tool designed for a single purpose – to quickly, securely and single-handedly pick up your chain and replicate its position in the highest gear on your bike. This it delivers on, in CNC-machined spades.
- Pros: Does what it says on the tin, with a speed and feel that is a joy to enact
- Cons: It's £50, you can't shift gears once fitted, and you might lose the adapter bits if you aren't careful
Back in 2014 TR reviewed the Daddy of chain keepers, the Butter B1. Impressed as TR was, in old money it was still expensive at £31.50, meaning a 3.5-star score. A few years on, Colorado's FeedBack Sports purchased the design from Butter and took what was an already-nifty design and improved upon it.
Along with the change to a rotating Delrin bushing to reduce wear and chain friction, FBS took the QR-axle-only threaded clamp of the B1 and added in the 12mm thru-axle adapter of the B2, to give you two keepers in one. So what used to be two separate purchases from Butter with two separate keepers in your toolbox/cleaning kit is now one purchase from FBS. What FBS didn't do was pick up the third option – to fit the Focus bikes-specific RAT through-axle standard.
The original Butter B1 and B2 are still $40 from inventor wearebutter.com, and still made in Colorado. Thanks to the wonders of transatlantic currency, $40 for the double-duty FBS version stateside translates into 50 British pounds, about which I'm certain There Will Be Letters.
Pricing shenanigans aside, if you have a bike fleet including QR and thru-axle hubbage, the made-in-China FBS model would be the better bet for the same money, for sure.
The Chain Keeper features CNC-machined and anodised all-alloy and stainless steel components with a hefty Delrin bushing that the chain spins on. In other words, it's beautifully over-engineered and is going to look and work great for decades. This is a Cyclist's Significant Birthday Gift if ever there was one.
In the traditional QR mode I found the angle and length of a few hangers mean the rear mech pivot body snagged on the 'nut' on the outside of the dropout, meaning the nut had to be wound quite a long way out to then sit properly home in the dropout after clearing the mech. This is less Feedback's fault and more the bike designer's – I'm looking at you, Merida. Most bikes I tried it on, the QR nut cleared the rear mech no problem. The inside shoulder of the nut is square, to prevent it rotating in the dropout as you tighten the larger body.
This sounds like a bit of a faff, but in practice it's easy to put the Keeper in place with your left hand, collecting the chain on the Delrin bushing, manoeuvring the outside nut into the dropout, then twisting the inner to tighten in place.
Once in place, the chain runs really smoothly, spinning the Delrin bushing and making cleaning/lubricating a breeze. The one drawback inherent in this design is that you can't change gear inwards to get deep into the rear mech for cleaning, or to shift it more inboard to protect from transit damage. This is an inherent compromise of the design.
The thru-axle adapter's expanding wedge works in an even simpler way. You insert it into the 12mm axle hole on the inside of the right dropout and give it a twist to make it expand to grip the hole. There's a teardrop-shaped profile that prevents the expanding wedge rotating as you tighten, so again the act of securing the Keeper is single-handed and fast.
Swapping between the QR and thru-axle adapters means you have a few extra loose bits floating around to lose, and presents the only real foible of the FBS design. The small conical washer that expands the wedge isn't captive and more than once I was on my hands and knees hunting for it after swapping over. If you dropped it in a muddy field, likely forget it. I used an M6 nyloc nut hand-tightened over the threaded end of the TA adapter, to ensure the washer or expanding section didn't get lost. It would be great to see FBS come up with a solution here.
For years I've thrashed a Park Tool Dummy Hub DH-1 – which has a major benefit over the FBS Chain Keeper in that you can shift through the full range of gears to get access for cleaning inside the cage, and also to protect the mech during travel by leaving it parked fully-inboard while maintaining chain tension. It's definitely a two-handed operation to fit, mind.
The downside of the Park DH-1 for thru-axle bikes is that you have to remove the black bushing and slot it over your own 12mm axle after you've passed it through the left-hand dropout. This is fine for securing the chain and mech shifted inwards for travel, but if you are cleaning or using in a workshop regularly it would become a faff, as opposed to the single-handed split-second install of the FBS Chain Keeper.
Quality-wise, the now-£20 Park Dummy Hub is definitely looking a bit worse for wear, the anodising having long since worn off and the pulley looking a bit beaten too. Based on my extensive experience of other Feedback products, I believe the Chain Keeper will retain its CNC-machined glory for decades.
There are various other dummy hub options out there, the one most likely to be cited in correspondence from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells CC being the Morgan Blue Chain Keeper, a cheap and cheerful £6 job that only works with QR bikes, not thru-axles, and is a two-handed wingnut-unscrewing faff to fit and remove, that requires four gear shifts up to fit after removing your wheel, then down to re-install. I'll get in ahead of the baying price-sensitive pack here and again restate that the FBS Chain Keeper is a premium bit of kit that is beautifully executed, with a price tag to match.
So who's the Feedback Sports Chain Keeper for? Predominantly they need to be happy with not being able to shift the mech inwards – this may or may not be a deal breaker, depending on your fetish level for cleaning or desire to avoid damage in transit – particularly in a soft bike case. Admittedly, with Shimano's Shadow technology becoming common in road bike rear derailleurs, this is less of an issue.
Ultimately they have to be someone with £50 to burn, who sees the value and relishes the joy of using a top-shelf tool designed for a single task, fine-tuned to deliver that function quickly with single-handed operation, manufactured from materials designed to last a lifetime.
For everyone else, Other Chain Keepers Are Available.
A beautifully designed tool for quickly getting your chain retention sorted that will most likely outlive you
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Feedback Sports Chain Keeper
Size tested: One
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?
It's aimed at people wanting to secure their chain on multiple bike axle types when the rear wheel is removed, quickly and with one hand.
Feedback Sports says:
Precision, portability, innovation, and durability are words most often associated with Feedback Sports tools, and the Chain Keeper is a defining product.
We're all looking for bike tools that make washing and tune-ups easier, right? The Chain Keeper is one of those elegant bike tools that truly simplifies washing, tuning and traveling by keeping chain tension when the rear wheel is removed. It's adaptable to standard quick-release or 12mm thru-axles frames without needing tools. And it's single-hand design makes it one of the best additions to any bike tool kit.
Bring the bike repair shop to your backyard with the Chain Keeper, and up your tech skills by adding it to our Team Edition or Ride Prep tool kits.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Feedback Sports lists these features:
Protects rear derailleur by maintaining chain tension when the rear wheel is removed
Ideal bike service tool for washing, tune-ups and traveling
Accommodates road bikes, cyclocross bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes, fitness bikes and more
Fits standard 9mm Quick-Release style dropouts
Fits 12mm Thru-Axle dropouts
Prevents the chain from slapping against delicate and painted frame surfaces
High-density Delrin™ roller is easy on your chain, yet incredibly durable
CNC machined aluminum body is corrosion-resistant and comfortable in-hand
Tool-free, single-hand design makes use simple and effective for beginner or professional bike mechanics
Custom logo design available
It's single-handed and fast.
Just beware the ability to lose a washer or bits from the adapter when swapping over or storing.
It's reassuringly hefty.
This utterly depends on your planned use case.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Flawlessly, if you ignore the opportunity to lose a washer or bits from the adapter when swapping over or storing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The weight. There's something about a hefty tool.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The faff potential of losing the thru-axle washer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's undoubtedly expensive, making it a very special tool to purchase.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Assuming they already owned a Park Tool DH-1 and understood the compromises of each design, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm marking the FBS Chain Keeper down on the design of the thru-axle adapter, with its inherent risk of losing bits, and also on the hefty UK-centric price tag.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.