Urban Velo

Milwaukee Bikes Polo Guard

Milwaukee Bikes was one of the first companies to take fixed freestyle and hardcourt polo seriously, and have continued to support each discipline as they’ve grown and matured. One of their long standing polo products is the pictured polo guard—a one-piece 35t chainring and bashguard. Keeping your chainring covered is not only a good idea to protect relatively delicate chainring teeth, but perhaps more importantly to protect yourself and others on the court from a nasty chainring encounter. It doesn’t take much for an exposed chainring to make a nasty gash or worse—back when I was all of fifteen years old I took a chunk out of my fibula with my exposed big ring in a awkward mountain bike “crash” that otherwise left me on my feet.

There is no doubt that the $100 Polo Guard is a high end option, there is a certain price premium that comes with the one-piece machining as compared to a conventional separate chainring and bashguard setup. Materials-wise, Milwaukee spare no expense as the guard is CNC machined from 7075-T6 aluminum, the same material that many high end rings are machined from for maximum hardness and longevity. The design features a 7mm thick guard section—wide enough to resist bending and denting, and also wide enough to not act as a blade itself as a filed off ring or ultra-thin guard can potentially do. Compatible with most 1/8″ single speed chains, the guard covers the top of the chain perfectly.

In actual use no news is good news when it comes to chainrings. I can’t say the ring took any time to break in, and the teeth themselves aren’t showing any abnormal wear. It should be noted that while most 1/8″ chains have a 9.5 mm pin width, some measure a hair wider, as do many masterlinks. You can see the wear that a too-wide masterlink has caused to the inside of my polo guard, but this reflects an installation oversight more than anything. Protect your investment by making sure your chain and masterlink are of the appropriate width, and by checking your chain for wear to prevent a stretched chain from wearing out the ring prematurely.

Two models of the Milwaukee Polo Guard are available, each with a 5-bolt, 110bcd interface. Pictured is V1, created to mesh perfectly with the readily available, hidden bolt, Sugino XD crankset (available as a package deal of guard and cranks for $130). V2 is for all other 110bcd cranks with five visible bolts. Installing the hidden bolt of the V1 is a certain challenge as the design doesn’t allow any space for a tool behind the crankarm. I found that a dab of threadlocker on the female end of the chainring bolt was enough to keep it in place to get it almost tight, and that was the best I could do and have had no problems since. Available in either silver or black, see this and more products from Milwaukee Bikes at www.benscycle.net

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