It’s a little weird thinking about a chain device being a brand new item in the downhill world of cycling, but in the prime days of the sport it was separate from the suspension so there was not much that distinguished a XC from a DH one, most were even styled with a triple chain set. Homemade chain devices were common as most racers seemed to notice the problem before any of the companies could. When the manufacturers finally caught on to the problem, this didn’t make it any easier for racers as the companies then stated it was something you had to have.
Of course back then there was nothing by the name of an ISCG mount, as everything had to either be clamped around a seat tube or mounted off the bottom shell bracket. Typically if you think that a chain is hard to put on these days, you should have tried to put one on back then.
Nothing was ever very simple back then, and recalling from an individual he stated that his favourite one would have to be the Mr. Dirt one. It wasn’t all that pretty and the lower end had to be cut off to prevent dragging it around in the dirt, but the price was exceptional and it could be rigged to fit almost any bike.
Other features it possessed were that they were a lot quieter than some of the other models made that year, and it was very reliable in preventing the loss of a chain, as it fully encased the chain. A bad thing about this device was it did collect quite a bit of mud which caused the chain to drag, also it didn’t have a form of any bash protection. It’s still not understood what it was back then that made people want to run big chain rings.