Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Ok, so I am a bit of a bike geek and when it came time to upgrade my bike last year, I spent an inordinate amount of time researching and test riding a number of different frames. In the end, it was a close choice between the Trek Madone and the Cervelo R3, and I chose the R3. Apart from being a super compliant, climber friendly bike, it happened to be on clearance and I grabbed it while it was hot. I even got me some Zipp 101's with the money I had left over because of the lower price. Here is what my ride looks like (though not the best place to take a picture)

But this post is not about the R3 itself, but rather a simple little piece of aluminum that prevents my $2,000+ frame from turning into junk in a blink of an eye. Yes, folks, I am talking about a chain catcher. This $40 widget attaches to your front derailleur (some models even attach to the bike frame), weighs a few nanograms (ok, 10g to be exact), and prevents your chain from dropping off the smaller chain ring.

Basically, this 10g of minuscule weight could have netted Andy Schleck the 2010 Tour de France (for those who have been living under a rock, refer to the famous chaingate incident).

For us non-pros (amateur racers, weekend warriors, recreational cyclists, etc.) who have saved up for months to buy our dream carbon bike, this simple device is a godsend. There is only one thing worse than having your chain drop in the middle of a hard climb making you lose all momentum and sight of your group, and that is having your chain drop, get stuck in your frame, ruin your paint job, and potentially gnaw off the bottom bracket area.

Granted the chance of irreparable frame damage is small, but knowing that your chain will not drop no matter how crossed your gears are when you shift is priceless. Ever since I installed this widget, I feel more confident and secure on the bike and don't have to rapidly move up gears before down-shifting on the chain-ring.

For all these reasons, the chain catcher gets my vote for being the best thing since sliced bread. Here is what it looks like on my bike.

Notice how you have to focus hard to even find it!


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