Eurobike 2011: The rise and rise of the chain catcher

It's the must-have component of the year; all the pros are at it

by Mat Brett   September 8, 2011  

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So, you spend a fortune on a cutting-edge carbon frame that has been aerodynamically developed in the wind tunnel, strengthened with the most advanced nano-technology known to materials science, and fitted with a super-high tech electronic gear system… Then the chain comes off. What do you do? Easy; bolt on a bit of metal to keep it in place.

Chain catchers aren’t new but they have become way more popular over the past couple of years. At last week’s Eurobike they were everywhere, and they're pretty much standard issue kit in the pro peloton.

This K-Edge Chain catcher, for example, was fitted to the new Litespeed L1R road bike at Eurobike.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, a chain catcher is a length of aluminium that attaches to your front mech bolt, extending downwards to stop your chain from overshifting inwards. Its job is to get in the way. That’s all. High tech, it ain’t.

If you don’t want your chain to come off and eat up the bottom bracket shell of your shiny new carbon bike – irreparable damage – a chain catcher might be a sound investment. Most cost 20-odd quid although you can pick one up for as little as a tenner. This one is fitted to the Wilier Zero .7 that we have in on test at the moment (what do you mean you can't see it? Put your glasses on for goodness' sake). The frame is priced at four grand.

Should you fit a chain catcher to your carbon bike? £20. £4,000. It's up to you.

That’s not to say that chain catchers are failsafe, though. The word on the street is that Andy Schleck had one fitted during last year’s Tour de France when he dropped his chain and lost 39secs to Alberto Contador… and finished second to Bertie* overall by exactly the same margin after three weeks of racing. And Tom Boonen was using one during this year’s Paris-Roubaix when he got his chain stuck between the frame and the chainset.

But even so, loads of the pro teams fit chain catchers as standard …

This is one of the Team Sky Pinarellos just before Paris-Roubaix with a natty blue Token chain catcher fitted alongside the Shimano Dura-Ace/SRM chainset. Those cable ties are holding the Di2 cable in position, not the chain catcher – that really wouldn't work.

Tyler Farrar had this one from Rotor on his brand new Cervélo S5 at the Tour de France.

Alexandre Vinokourov had a Rotor one too, fitted to his new Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac at this year’s Tour.

This is Andy Schleck’s bike at the Tour. Or Frank's. One of the Frandy brothers, anyway. He's gone down the K-Edge route.

And this is Fabian Cancellara’s. He gets a gold chain catcher to match his gold groupset bolts and so on. As Olympic Champion, Spartacus can get away with that.

Road.cc, eh? Where else can you get an article on chain catchers? Nowhere, that’s where. We’re tackling the issues the rest find too hot to handle. Next up: an in-depth look at bar tape plugs. Maybe.

* Subject to legal blah, blah, blah.

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Bar end plugs: why doesn't anyone make them with orange reflectors (like the pedal reflector material)?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
8th September 2011 - 10:35

4 Likes

cat1commuter wrote:
Bar end plugs: why doesn't anyone make them with orange reflectors (like the pedal reflector material)?

Pfff! Whole halls at Eurobike devoted to reflective end plugs although, as you say, not seen very much in the shops here. You can even get them with little red LED lights which struck me as a good idea; in a minute I'll remember who makes them.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
8th September 2011 - 10:40

4 Likes

chain catchers are great if you have an integrated mech hanger. Not so good for those of us with clamp ons...

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [492 posts]
8th September 2011 - 10:40

2 Likes

Cooks wrote:
chain catchers are great if you have an integrated mech hanger. Not so good for those of us with clamp ons...

Exactly, I'd love to run one on my Boardman but there's no decent chain catcher for my huge seat tube, unless of course I buy a clamp to braze on converter and a brand new SRAM Red front mech, just so I can run a chain catcher on my bike...

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
8th September 2011 - 11:35

3 Likes

don't see any green ones though… that can't be right

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
8th September 2011 - 11:55

1 Like

I'm not against them as such, but isn't this a problem that can be 95% solved by good indexing and careful shifting?

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
8th September 2011 - 12:12

3 Likes

Cooks wrote:
chain catchers are great if you have an integrated mech hanger. Not so good for those of us with clamp ons...

Deda Dog Fang (google it) does the job perfectly adequately and can be had for a fiver if you shop around, Available in 28.6, 31.8 and 34.9.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [907 posts]
8th September 2011 - 12:18

5 Likes

the dog fang does the job just as well, but is only good if you have a round tube to mount it to and only 3 sizes available.

posted by thehood [24 posts]
8th September 2011 - 12:53

2 Likes

Trek make bar end lights. They're great.

Sven Ellis's picture

posted by Sven Ellis [31 posts]
8th September 2011 - 13:30

5 Likes

Yeah, I've looked at a dog fang but it won't fit my tube as it flares out before it gets level with the inner chain ring.... thanks anyway!

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [492 posts]
8th September 2011 - 13:38

5 Likes

JonMack wrote:
Cooks wrote:
chain catchers are great if you have an integrated mech hanger. Not so good for those of us with clamp ons...

Exactly, I'd love to run one on my Boardman but there's no decent chain catcher for my huge seat tube, unless of course I buy a clamp to braze on converter and a brand new SRAM Red front mech, just so I can run a chain catcher on my bike...

That would just be daft....

-Runs off to rub more dirt onto his CX bike so people cant see his front mech setup-

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
8th September 2011 - 13:49

4 Likes

if you were desperate you could get a band adapter for a braze on mech and attach said chain catcher to that. Bit of an expensive way to do it though

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [907 posts]
8th September 2011 - 16:07

2 Likes

Sorry guts but triathlete europe had this covered in this months mag. You're just jumping on a bandwagon

posted by miffed [163 posts]
8th September 2011 - 18:51

2 Likes

Goddam it! I thought we were pretty safe on being the first with this one. Back to the drawing board.

Before I start, no-one has actually done the bar plug thing, have they? If there was an article in last month's Bicycling magazine I'm not gonna bother.

posted by Mat Brett [1953 posts]
8th September 2011 - 19:46

3 Likes

miffed wrote:
Sorry guys but triathlete europe had this covered in this months mag. You're just jumping on a bandwagon

The difference is Mat here has his tongue firmly in cheek whereas this magazine of which you speak would have necessarily been taking it seriously if it's for triathletes. Smile

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
9th September 2011 - 9:10

1 Like

cat1commuter wrote:
Bar end plugs: why doesn't anyone make them with orange reflectors (like the pedal reflector material)?

I got some red reflective bar ends off ebay last year.

posted by adscrim [116 posts]
9th September 2011 - 11:56

4 Likes

Canyon sells a chaincatcher that mounts under the bottle cage, maybe that could work?
http://www.canyon.com/_uk/accessories/articles.html?ac=Z04_06

posted by johanekstrom [11 posts]
10th September 2011 - 8:10

3 Likes

Been using top & side catcher on the Brompton for a couple of years now. Mounting with a 38mm cable cleat, essential safety measure for the coaster braked machine when 'riding Dutch' whilst I unstuck the Magura HS22 on the front wheel. Now I can with a minimal effort lock both wheels.

But the chain catcher is subject to further development - with a modified tensioner I reckon I'll get a workable fixed wheel system that still tucks away the chain when it folds.

Clue when you are riding a cable free Dutch bike, the loss of the coaster brake when the chain comes off is shall I say ,,, embarrassing. and can cost you in front mudguards/shoe soles as you apply the emergency tread brake.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [503 posts]
10th December 2011 - 23:46

4 Likes