Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard

by Brian Mullin on August 17, 2011

The Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard is a unique component. Instead of using hard plastic (polycarbonate) or metal (aluminum) for the bashguard, they use CNC machined aluminum that has Thermoplastic Polyurethane bonded on the outer edge. Thermoplastic Polyurethanes or TPU is a class of polyurethane plastics with many useful properties, including elasticity, transparency, and resistance to oil, grease and abrasion. The TPU ring is ribbed, and can be used as a third wheel, offering adhesion and traction capabilities over obstacles, and will not mar surfaces. The TPU is hard, but has a slight give, so that it can adhere and conform to objects, offering a useful gripiness when dealing with and powering over large rocks or trees. The bashguard is CNC machined from a solid billet of aluminum, for additional strength and durability. Purely Custom is known for their custom CNC machining, and are a division of Seastrom Manufacturing, which has been in business since 1928, and are located in Twin Falls Idaho.

Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard Specs:

  • Thermoplastic polyurethane outer ring prevents you from leaving your mark on the environment
  • Outer polyurethane ring is ribbed to provide traction while powering over obstacles
  • Inner ring is CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminum. 115g
  • Size – 104BCD x 34teeth
  • Colors – red, green, blue, orange

Impressions
I installed the Soft Touch on my SIXC crankset (22/32/bash), replacing the existing aluminum bashguard. It has been my faithful companion for three months, and it has seen a fair amount of abusive use. I tend to ride a lot of very technical terrain that has rock gardens, rock slabs, ledge drop, log roll overs, and a bashguard is useful, and is almost required. Some of the typical terrain requires skillful maneuvering, usually at a snail’s pace, threading through and overcoming obstacles, and it sometimes entails using the bashguard. The bashguard may be used for protection rolling over an object, as a pseudo third wheel, using it to lean against, sliding down something, and using the gripiness and ribs for traction to power up and over things. Many times I have done a track stand with it, using it to balance before making a move. I liked that the TPU was sort of an ideal blend of hard and elastic properties, so you could slide with it, or grip with it with the proper downward pressure. One aspect I really like about the Soft Tools, is that when it gets marred or torn up, your legs don’t get scratched or cut up by sharp aluminum of a normal bashguard. It’s also quiet, so when you hit an object with some speed it dulls the noise and the sensation, and acts as a micro energy absorber, so impacts aren’t as harsh. We as mountain bikers need to follow the adage ‘Leave No Trace’ on the environment, and the Soft Touch is an ideal tool, since it doesn’t leave behind a scrape mark, deep gouge or a scratch. I have one small spot where the TPU chunked off, but it was inconsequential and it seems to be isolated to the section where my right foot is forward, and the cranks are horizontal. Otherwise, it has been pretty tough and durable for as much abuse that it has been through.

Bottom Line
The Purely Custom Soft Touch Bashguard is an excellent addition to any bike, especially if you like All Mountain riding, or frequent terrain that you need the functionality of a bashguard. The TPU’s superb combination of hard and elastic (soft) properties works extremely well, so you can slide on things, or grip, depending on the requirements. The ribs actually work, and you can walk up rock and logs using them. This thing shines in super technical terrain, and is supremely functional, acting as a third wheel. The non-marring qualities mean you can ‘Leave No Trace’ on the environment. I would like to see more sizes, so that it could be used on a larger selection of some of the newer drivetrains. The Soft Touch just plain rocks!

Strengths

  • Light
  • Leave No Trace
  • TPU – blend of hard and elastic
  • Functional for technical terrain

Weaknesses

  • Only one size
  • Only four color choices (used to only be red)

MSRP $59.95

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