Vel's Chain Sentry Carbon does its job of keeping your frame safe from chain unshipping accidents while adding just 8g. You'll need a braze-on front mech though, and it's only designed to work with 36-tooth chainrings and bigger, not 34-tooth.
Dropping your chain off the smallest chainring can see it get jammed between ring and chainstay or bottom bracket shell. On a metal frame you're going to lose some paint, but it can destroy a carbon fibre one.
If you haven't seen a chain catcher before, it's literally a small 'bar' that attaches to your front mech and sits just off the inside of the chain, stopping it unshipping from the smallest ring.
You'll need to have a braze-on front derailleur mount to allow fitment as it attaches using the bolt that fixes the mech to the bracket. Vel includes a longer bolt to take into account the thickness of the chain catcher.
Fitting the Chain Sentry takes literally five minutes and alignment is easy.
Over the test period I've been making some horrible front shifts from big to small chainring under load to try to get the chain to come off (something it has done in the past), but nothing – the Chain Sentry has stood firm.
Vel states that the Chain Sentry is compatible with 36T chainrings and bigger, which seems a bit of an oversight as the majority of bikes sold these days come with a compact 34T inner ring. The test bike had a 36T inner and the bottom of the catcher aligned nicely with the bottom of the chain. There was a bit of adjustment left to drop the front mech lower to deal with a 34T chainring's 4mm smaller radius, which would still see it work in my opinion, but it all depends if you have that amount of play left over.
Vel does an alloy option which works with 34T chainrings and above, if you wanted to be on the safe side; it's £9.99 and still only weighs 10g.
Prices can vary wildly for chain catchers. Vel's £9.99 alloy option ties in nicely with something like the Token TK375, also around a tenner (and claimed to be just 6g), while K-Edge's option is just over 20 quid, also alloy. And Campagnolo's alloy offering is over £30.
Simple solution to protect your frame and cheaper than some alloy options
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Chain Sentry Carbon
Size tested: One
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
On Sigma Sports website it says, "The VEL Sentry Carbon Chain Catcher attaches to your front mech hanger, and prevents your chain from falling inboard. Particularly handy in racing scenarios where you simply can't afford to dismount, this chain catcher weighs just 8 grams and is compatible with 36-tooth inner chainrings and above."
It does a great job of keeping the chain in situ.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Superlight full carbon chain catcher
Weighing just 8g
Suitable for 36-tooth inner chainrings upwards
Cheaper than some alloy versions (but twice the price of some others).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Kept the chain on with no issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The claims about it only working with 36T and larger chainrings.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Prices vary madly for chain catchers: Campagnolo's alloy offering is over £30 while others like Token's (and Vel's) sell for around a tenner.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a decent piece of equipment and simple to fit.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!