It happens to most cyclists. It might be because you shifted under load, pedalled over rough terrain or rolled over an unexpected bump, but, at some point, your chain will fall off. Dropping a chain can be startling and even quite dangerous if you’re in an unstable position, but it doesn’t have to happen. Chain catchers are an inexpensive, yet hardly discussed, solution that will pretty reliably stop your chain from dropping off your small chainring and onto the frame.
Stopping the drop
Riding on bumpier gravel roads is becoming more common and road cyclists are facing some very off-road issues with their chains (1x seeming a bit more tempting?) Beyond forcing you to stop and possibly dirty your hands as you get everything back in place, a dropped chain can also do damage to a bike’s frame, particularly if it’s carbon.
A chain catcher is an incredibly simple tool that addresses these issues. They come in a few forms, but they all do the same thing: they stop your chain from falling off the chainring onto the frame. Attached to round seat tubes, chain catchers such as the Deda Elementi Dog Fang are a plastic ring with a little protrusion that will keep the chain in place. Cyclists with other seat tube shapes can look into chain catchers such as the K-Edge Braze-on Chain Catcher. This thin length of aluminum attaches directly to the front derailleur and extends downwards to prevent chain dropping.
While situations such as hitting big bumps or shifting under load/while turning can cause a chain to fall off, if you’re dropping your chain frequently you should try adjusting your derailleur.
Some bikes come with a chain catcher but, the good news is, if yours doesn’t you should be able to pick one up for under $30.