2016 World Champion Wout van Aert has had some infamous dropped chains in his racing career, three coming in the last few weeks as he battled 2015 World Champion Mathieu van der Poel. Van Aert also happens to be one of the few SRAM-sponsored cyclocross racers who chooses to still race a double chainring setup, American Gage Hecht being another.
The dropped chain in the Superprestige race in Gieten (video here) was a costly one, and cost the Belgian a chance to sprint against van der Poel for the win. The two in Ronse at the GP Mario de Clercq also appeared to take van Aert out of the running for victory, until an untimely mechanical had van der Poel running and one-leg pedaling to the pits (video here) .
After Gieten, van Aert’s team went searching for a savior, and in their search they found the Sentinel by WickWerks, a chain guard/watcher designed for double chainring drivetrains.
Some might think of the appendage-covered powerful, clawed pad technology found in the Matrix when they think of a Sentinel, but such powerful, gripping tentacles are exactly what van Aert needs to hold his chain on during the heat of the battle, with or without the red pill, unless a couple of billionaires are proven right and get all of us out of this artificial world.
WickWerks said Van Aert was testing the Sentinel at last weekend’s Berencross stop of the Brico Cross series, but opted to not use it the next day for the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee opener, and given the two dropped chains, we’re guessing that despite the victory, he regrets not using it.
Now, apparently van Aert has outfitted all his bikes with the new chain catcher, and we’re taking a closer look at this new accessory today.
The $49.99 aluminum catcher from WickWerks requires a front derailleur braze-on mount, or a clamp-on adaptor. The Sentinel utilizes two aluminum arms to keep the chain from derailing off either chainring, and both arms are independently adjustable for different sized chainrings, chainlines and spacing.
The Sentinel mounts on the front derailleur braze-on, replacing the existing bolt that secures the front derailleur. Setup requires re-securing the front derailleur with the Sentinel’s bolt, and you’ll have to re-adjust your front derailleur before final adjustment of the Sentinel.
There’s two pairs of small 2.5mm Allen bolts, and the top pair is first used to rotate the Sentinel’s inner guard close to the inner chainring. Once that’s secure, you adjust the outer guard to sit just outside the outer chainring. It also has to clear the crankarm, making precise adjustment paramount.
The entire setup weighs just 23 grams, and really, a bit less since you’re replacing the existing front derailleur mounting bolt.
While our experience indicates the majority of dropped chains in cyclocross happen from the bottom of the chainring, often due to a slight backpedal motion in a bumpy section or on a downhill or while turning, or an accidental backwards rotation while running with your bike, the Sentinel’s arms should prevent the chain from falling off either ring completely, and allow you to pedal your chain back on and sprint van der Poel for the win.
As with any chain watcher or chain guard, mud might be an issue, since a watcher’s tight tolerances leaves little room for a mud-covered chain. However, mud is also one of the culprits in causing dropped chains, and we’re anxious to see how the Sentinel performs with both van Aert, who has a full pit crew and multiple bikes, and us weekend warriors, who may not always have a crew waiting to clean our bike every half lap.
Stay tuned as we give the WickWerks Sentinel chain catcher a full test. See WickWerk’s installation video below.
More info: wickwerks.com