As a bicycle insurance provider, we see lots of damaged frames pass through the office. A common way for the frame to break is damage caused by the chain coming off on the inside of the chainrings.
With the chain off, the chain can become lodged between the crankset and the frame, causing considerable scratching and damage, especially if it's carbon fibre.
Keep The Chain And Cassette Clean
A clean drivetrain is a happy drivetrain. By keeping your chain, cassette and chainrings clean, the chain won't stick as you pedal. It's this 'sticking' which can cause problems as the chain won't release from your chainring properly.
People commonly refer to this as 'chain-suck', where the chain cannot release after passing over the front chainrings. Continuing to pedal will often see the chain come off of the inside.
An easy way to keep your chain clean is to use a specific chain cleaner. These cost around £15 a can be purchased from all bike shops. Paired with a good quality degreaser and your chain will come up sparkly new after every ride.
It's good to thoroughly clean your drivetrain after every ride, however once or twice a fortnight (depending on how often you ride) should keep on top of grime build up.
If you go on an especially muddy or gritty ride you should get that chain clean as soon as possible!
Check Chain And Chainring Wear
The next step is to have a look at your chainrings and chain to see if they are worn out. Worn out components won't hold the chain smoothly when passing through the drivetrain, which can lead to your chain coming off.
To check your chain, it's useful to have a chain checker. These tools can be picked up for just a few pounds, and accurately show how worn out your chain is.
If you don't have a chain checker, there's also the fabled 2,000-mile rule, that suggests you should replace the chain every 2,000 miles.
However this is purely estimated. With different riders, pushing different gears, in different weather, you could easily get 2500 miles out of a chain, or fail to get 1,000.
Chainring and cassette wear can be visibly spotted. Have a close-up look to see whether the chainrings aren't rounded like they are in this picture below.
A rounded chainring can dislodge the chain from the little ring and flick it between your crankset and frame.
Adjust the front mech
You should also check whether your front mech is aligned properly. The chain has to have the smoothest route possible. This video from GCN tells you how to get your front derailleur running properly.
Don't 'Stomp' The Pedals When The Chain Comes Off
This is usually the cause of most frame damage and turns minor frame scratches into much larger scrapes.
When you don't realise your chain has come off, it can feel as if the drivetrain isn't shifting properly. So riders sometimes pedal even harder to get the bike going.
This nearly always ends in tears. With the chain getting wedged between the frame, then yanked out which wrecks and snags the paintwork.
The best thing to do in that situation is to keep aware of what's going on below and calmly get off to put the chain back on carefully. It's tempting when you see pro-cyclists chip the chain back on whilst on the move, but for mere mortals, it usually ends in tears.
Buy a Chain Catcher
A fail-safe method for preventing your chain from coming off on the inside is installing a chain catcher.
These useful machined tools are attached to the front mech to stop the chain dropping off the inside.
They've become increasingly more sleek and aerodynamic, perhaps as many pro cyclists have started to adopt them.
Clear stickers and Frame Protectors
Have you tried applying clear stickers to your carbon frame to protect it from minor scrapes and scratches? They are remarkably effective at protecting from stones and grit that flicks up from the road, and might just help in the aid of a chain coming off.
A brand you should definitely check out is RideWrap. They make clear stickers that can cover all of your frame. Preventing it from scrapes, rubs, and even chain damage. Head to their website to see if they make a sticker kit for your bike. They have products for most models!
Brands like Lizard Skins also make less specialist self-adhesive stickers that claim to serve as a 'protective shield against paint abrasion through outer cables, chain, installed bags, falling rocks and shoes'... and maybe your chain. It's a minor investment but could save you a lot of trouble and bother further down the line.
Tools For The Job
Here's a list of handy tools and recommendations to have in your arsenal:
- Chain Cleaner
- Chain Checker
- Chain Catcher
- Protective Stickers
- Specialist Bike Insurance from Laka
Unsure what tools you need for your bike? Check out 8 essential bike tools that every cyclist should own.