The Dreaded Dropped Chain – And How To Prevent It!
A dropped chain poses serious problems for all cyclists. Not only is it annoying, dropping a chain can damage your frame, especially if it is full carbon. And if it happens during a race, congratulations, you just lost!
The worst part is, even if you practice shifting for years and get really good at the nuances of your bike, and you adjust the front derailleur perfectly, it still happens!
So what do you do?
You need to get yourself a chain catcher!
A “chain catcher” (or “chain watcher” as some say) will prevent the chain from dropping off the small ring and onto the frame. If the chain is about to slide off the small ring, it hits the chain catcher, which pushes the chain back onto the ring. This saves time, keeps your hands clean, lessens frame damage, and could very well salvage your chances of winning a race!
The chain catcher is actually a simple device. It is nothing more than a small piece of plastic or metal that clamps to your seat tube or front derailleur and rests beside the small chainring.
They are cheap, too, so you have no excuse not to use one!
In my research, I have found six options for chain catchers. Here they are…
Third Eye Chain Watcher
This is a small piece of nylon with a built-in metal clamp. It clamps to the seat tube, and the nylon piece keeps the chain on the ring. It should fit seat tubes of 1 1/8″ to 1 3/8″, even if they’re oval.
Deda Elementi Dog Fang
This looks similar to the Third Eye Chain Watcher, in that it is a small piece of nylon. It fits 28.6 mm (1 1/8″), 31.7 mm (1 1/4″) and 31.8 mm (1 3/8″) round seat tubes.
N-Gear Jump Stop
This is a stainless steel plate with a plastic clamp. It clamps to your seat tube and the plate is there to act as a chain guide. It fits round seat tubes with a standard outside diameter of 1″ (needs shim), 1-1/8″, 1-1/4″, or 1-3/8″.
The DropStop is slightly different in that it mounts on the bottom bracket rather than the seat tube. This solves the problem of seat tube size, although it requires more time for installation.
The K-Edge is the fanciest chain catcher out there. If you want a good one, this is the one to get. But you do have to shell out $45 or more for this luxury!
There is also a good story at VeloNews featuring the K-Edge.
Or… Make your own!
If you want a top-quality chain catcher but don’t want to spend a whole lot, you can make your own. It’s possible to make your own chain catcher that looks and works nearly as well as the K-Edge, while costing less than $10.
All you really do is take a piece of metal and bend it just so, then attach it to your bike via the screw on your front derailleur braze-on.
For instructions and diagrams, check out the RoadBikeRider.com ebook “How to Make a Chain Catcher (And Never Worry About a Suicide Shift Again)” by John Marsh. (Buy here; see my review of the book here.) It’s under $4 for the book, and the materials cost under $2. That’s a great value!
(Or check this thread at RoadBikeReview for some interesting ideas for homemade chain catchers.)
Yes, even the pros use chain catchers!
If you look at the pros’ bikes, you’ll see many of them have custom-made chain catchers!
Alessandro Ballan’s Wilier: click here for picture.
Bradley Wiggins’ Felt (equipped with a K-Edge): click here for story.
Don’t wait until you scratch your carbon frame, get a chain catcher soon!