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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 08-28-12, 07:27 PM   #1
VastCrew
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Chain Catcher

Is there a specific reason why we would want/need a chain catcher on the tandem?Two tandem teams have separately mentioned having one however when I brought it up at the shop they said they aren't usually necessary. He said that we are in the shop often enough and they do quick adjustments regularly so it would probably never be an issue. Is it an ugly issue on the bike? Or weight? Necessary or Preference?
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Old 08-28-12, 08:51 PM   #2
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....do yourself a favor, get one!
Even if it is only the simple inexpensive 3rd Eye Chain Watcher. They weigh nothing, are simple, unobtrusive and will save you grief...I promise.
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Old 08-28-12, 08:59 PM   #3
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Chain Catcher

I have (had?) one on my Burley Rivazza, but it has indexed shifting. Sometimes it would overshoot the small ring on the downshift. It was a pain as it usually was at the worst time: when we were getting ready to climb. Anyway, with a non-indexed front dérailleur it may not be needed, but might be a nice to have item. Since you've not yet posted pictures of the bike (hint, hint), we don't know what kind of shifters you have on your Bilenky.
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Old 08-28-12, 10:46 PM   #4
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When I bought my KHS there was one installed. On the way home the chain still managed to drop off the small ring(how the hell?) and I had to move the catcher before I could put the chain back on.

Anyways, IMHO if your limits are set right and everything is shifting right, there shouldn't be any throwing of the chain. But, in practice, I know **** happens and something else can cause the chain to drop. They weigh practically nothing and what difference can it really make on my 40lbs tandem?
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Old 08-28-12, 11:40 PM   #5
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When I put a 26t granny on our tandem (going way out of derailleur spec) I added an N-Gear Jump Stop chain guide. For $10 it's cheap insurance. Dropping the chain at the base of a climb is no fun on a tandem!
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Old 08-29-12, 02:59 AM   #6
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Dropping a chain is no fun, but IMHO people tend to use these as a substitute for adjusting their bike properly. And if you start down this route, where to stop? Pie plate on the rear wheel? tyre liner to avoid punctures? rear view mirror? 'safety' half toeclips... Ugh.

Of course there are a few bikes where the chain just will not stay on, even with a properly adjusted FD. Often it's because the chainstay is too short (Cervelo) or the chainline is poor. The old school solution here is to bend the FD cage to add some clearance rather than adding a chain catcher. Of course that doesn't work with carbon cages etc.

Personally I would avoid chain catchers which bolt onto the FD mount as it's another thing to adjust alongside the FD and can get bent (Andy Schleck) and then cause even more trouble. Better instead to use something like a Deda Dogfang which bolts to the seat tube and is simple and foolproof if you must.
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Old 08-29-12, 05:01 AM   #7
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Very interesting! So it seems the opinions vary. I'm guessing that if you have the chain catcher it makes the job substancially easier to put the chain back on. Is this the primary benefit? Is there risk of bike damage if the chain slips off?

I don't think we will try bending anything on the bike, I'm thinking our shop would lecture us endlessly on that one. Never heard of the Dogfang but we can check into that!

Photogravity, I'm so sorry!!! I took pictures and some did not turn out very well and I wanted to retake them. This however has slipped my mind but it has now been refreshed. Look for them this afternoon, that is if my posting skills can handle the job
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Old 08-29-12, 07:01 AM   #8
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The chain catcher should keep the chain from coming off in the first place. If the chain misses the small ring on the front, the chain catcher should "catch" it and guide it back where it belongs.

IMHO the reason to have one on a tandem vs a single is that it's hard to get both people to stop their feet instantly if you throw the chain. And, with two people on the bike, there's more movement, more weight shifts, more vibration, etc. so that you don't always realize that "something's wrong" as quickly on a tandem. All it takes is one person continuing to pedal while the chain is off to chop up the frame some around the bottom bracket.

Check the N-gear Jump Stop and the K-Edge chain catcher, I believe both are used successfully by folks on this board. We use the N-gear Jump stop.
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Old 08-29-12, 07:06 AM   #9
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Is there risk of bike damage if the chain slips off?
Sorry, should have answered this more directly -- Yes! A chain moving rapidly in contact with another object is called a "chain saw". You can carve up the stoker's bottom bracket area pretty severely, especially on an aluminum or CF frame. This is an area that needs all the strength it was designed to have. Too much damage there means you get a new frame.
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Old 08-29-12, 07:20 AM   #10
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...however when I brought it up at the shop they said they aren't usually necessary.
Noting that "usually" is the key word in that sentence, I'd have to say they're right. The "unusual" time when it is necessary, however, brings you AND your stoker to an unexpected uphill stop with both of you still clipped in. Half the time the result of that is hitting the pavement. So, you have to decide for yourself if it is worth the risk considering the cargo (stoker) you're carrying.

Many actions are taken on tandems to absolutely minimize the risk of ever dropping the bike with the stoker on board. `Cause if SHE don't ride, WE don't ride!
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Old 08-29-12, 07:41 AM   #11
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I installed the Third Eye several years back after multiple chain drops. We'd been fine till we started riding in hilly areas. While there's something to be said for chain adjustment as well as shifting technique (my cadence was too high). Since then, we have still dropped the chain two maybe three times (again, the cadence-thing) saved us 20-25 times. As others have commented, the chain comes off early in the climb and restarts are pain (both literally and figuratively). At the end of the day, I can eat the 1.5 ounces for the piece of mind.

As to WheelsNT's comment, chain saw also mars the pain finish. Ask me how I know...
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Old 08-29-12, 09:53 AM   #12
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How many hilly miles has the guy who says it is not needed captained a tandem?

Dropping a chain early on a hill climb, stopping to put it back on, then starting the tandem on a steep uphill grade while your group disappears up the hill...sounds like fun huh.

Weigh very little,
protect the frame,
almost invisible,

Exactly why not?
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Old 08-29-12, 10:51 AM   #13
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Personally, I think the benefits of having a chain catcher more than outweigh any downside. Anyone that has ridden a tandem extensively and dropped a chain knows what a painful experience it can be.

VastCrew, there's no need to apologize. I just want to see your bike!

EDIT: In looking at the pictures you posted, it appears the bike is running brifters. If that is the case, I would put a chain catcher on the bike. My opinion is that you'll be happy you did so.
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Old 08-29-12, 01:46 PM   #14
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I'm sold on the chain catcher!! Thanks for all the explanations. I really like the idea of the chain not being able to come off, wonder why it is not a typical add on to the bike? The less hassle on the road (for us anyway) the better! Of course our bike does have storage for 2 spokes on our bike. Talk about a fun roadside activity! Maybe a nifty idea for touring?!
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Old 08-29-12, 01:49 PM   #15
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Brifters!! I was thinking that was a pretty neat sounding term when doing all my tandem searching....Now, I have them! Thanks Photogravity for that tidbit!
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Old 08-29-12, 02:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
Dropping a chain is no fun, but IMHO people tend to use these as a substitute for adjusting their bike properly...
I guess then that all those professional mechanics fitting the pro cyclist's bikes with chain watchers are admitting they don't adjust the bike properly.



Cancellara's mechanic mounted a K-Edge chain catcher, just like last year, for Flanders. It's a strange inclusion because Trek's new Domane has an integrated bolt-on catcher that wasn't used. Photo: Nick Legan

I think if a large percentage of the pro peloton has a chain catcher, there is evidence enough that it is useful.



Andy Schleck famously found out that chain drop can happen to the best of bikes and cyclists. He had been in Yellow, until chain drop.
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Old 08-29-12, 02:21 PM   #17
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Gee, I've never dropped a chain on my Calfee or old Santana. Never even thought of needing one. Guess I'm unusual.

As far as the pro's go, the ramifications of dropping a chain can be bad so I guess it makes sense.
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Old 08-29-12, 03:14 PM   #18
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Gee, I've never dropped a chain on my Calfee or old Santana. Never even thought of needing one. Guess I'm unusual.
Well, you're screwed now! You DO realize that's the same as saying, "Why, I haven't had a flat in 5000 miles!" Murphy's gonna gitcha!
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Old 08-29-12, 04:01 PM   #19
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Well, you're screwed now! You DO realize that's the same as saying, "Why, I haven't had a flat in 5000 miles!" Murphy's gonna gitcha!
yeah, I figured that right after I posted it...
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Old 08-29-12, 07:11 PM   #20
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On our old Santana I had problems with the chain either not moving to the granny or going to far. Too far was bad! We almost crashed because the chain came off and we were starting up a climb. I installed the N-gear device and was able to adjust the derailler for enough extra throw to always engage the granny gear and not have the chain come off. I installed one on our Calfee as I was putting it together. I did not want the chain to come off and chew up the frame. Very nice little device.
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Old 08-30-12, 01:59 PM   #21
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Ritterview's post above (#16) says it all. That a shop would be so nieve as to say a properly tuned bike should never need a catcher is pathetic.

It only takes one bad chain drop/jam to ruin a carbon or aluminum (basically unrepairable) frame.

I installed a K-Edge on our Calfee and it has quitely sat there without causing any problems (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post14411895) and added only a few grams to our bike. The less expensive N-Stop catcher/3rd Eye would not fit no matter what hack was attempted. Install success will obviously vary depending on your frame & crank setup.

It's like insurance... the peace of mind factor.

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Old 09-02-12, 08:30 PM   #22
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Over 240,000 miles of tandeming. Have not had a chaincatcher . . .yet!
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Old 09-06-12, 09:06 AM   #23
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Over 240,000 miles of tandeming. Have not had a chaincatcher . . .yet!
That's nice, but there are plenty of other instances from other people (including pros) where it happens and/or would have happened if they didn't have some form of catcher. Have you ever crashed and spit your helmet in two? No? Then why wear one? Same thing.

I tune the FD to shift to the small ring only the minimum required to ensure 100% success under load, ie: when already on a hill were I thought we wouldn't need to shift but find ourselves bogging down in the middle ring. However, the Ultegra FD makes such a quick & hard snap to the inside I would be concerned of it simply tossing the chain too violently and over the inside. Spending $30 to ensure our frame is never mangled by the chain is money well spent.

These days the chain catcher is pretty much standard equipment and should not be overlooked. Here are about 112,000 photos for you...
https://www.google.com/search?q=k-ed...w=1574&bih=840
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Old 09-06-12, 12:13 PM   #24
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That's nice, but there are plenty of other instances from other people (including pros) where it happens and/or would have happened if they didn't have some form of catcher. Have you ever crashed and spit your helmet in two? No? Then why wear one? Same thing.

I tune the FD to shift to the small ring only the minimum required to ensure 100% success under load, ie: when already on a hill were I thought we wouldn't need to shift but find ourselves bogging down in the middle ring. However, the Ultegra FD makes such a quick & hard snap to the inside I would be concerned of it simply tossing the chain too violently and over the inside. Spending $30 to ensure our frame is never mangled by the chain is money well spent.

These days the chain catcher is pretty much standard equipment and should not be overlooked. Here are about 112,000 photos for you...
https://www.google.com/search?q=k-ed...w=1574&bih=840

I agree, I have one on the tandem and on my road bike.
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Old 09-06-12, 03:31 PM   #25
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And, ironically, our road tandem has a chain drop prevention device, but not one mountain bike in our house or even our mountain tandem has one installed.

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