Bike Chain Slipping: 8 Quick Steps To Fix & Top 12 Common Causes

Bike chain slipping is one of the most common issues. The issue may be resolved by adjusting the tension of the shifting cables, replacing worn-out components, or cleaning the drivetrain’s parts.

It’s essential to identify the precise location of the problem to avoid wasting your time and money. This post reviews the 12 potential causes of bike chain skipping and the appropriate fixes.

8 Steps To Quickly Fix The Bike Chain Slipping 

bike chain slipping
  1. Downshift the bike into the lowest front gear.
  2. Keep pedaling to realign the chain.
  3. If it doesn’t work, elevate the rear tire while using your hand to turn the pedals.
  4. Push the back derailleur forward to let the chain tension out. Then, reposition the chain on the chain ring. After that, lift the back wheel and turn the pedals with your hand to adjust the chain.
  5. If it doesn’t help, use a chain breaker to cut off a few chain links.
  6. After that, you must feed the chain along the guide pulley. Then, thread the chain over the tension pulley. After that, thread it inside the derailleur cage between the tension and guide pulleys.
  7. Align the chain’s free ends to form a new chain. Use the chain breaker to reconnect the links of the chain.
  8. Check to make sure the right looseness is being attained when you ride.

12 Common Causes Of Bike Chain Skipping

Based on our experience, there may be various causes of the bike chain skipping, including improper shifting technique, an excessively long chain, a worn-out chain, or worn-out rear casters. Let’s go over what results in the bike chain slipping when pedaling hard.

Gear Indexing Problems

The first explanation for a skipping chain is a drivetrain with the wrong gear index. Even many new bikes can display these symptoms.

Cable Stretch  

The old bikes frequently come with old cables, which results in corrosive housing and cable stretch. Even brand-new bikes might experience the same problems due to faulty internal routing wire installation.

Because of that, the new cables stretch a lot. Over time, the wires extend far too much, which is when your chain begins to slip. 

Poorly Positioned Front Derailleur Body

If you’re not properly positioning the front derailleur body, it may cause your shifting chain. Limited screw setting and the wrong derailleur height are the two most common problems with the front derailleur position.

The following methods may help you make sure that you properly positioned your bike’s front derailleur:   

  1. Place the derailleur arm so that it is over the outermost ring. The chainring and the outside cage of the derailleur should have the distance of a thin coin’s width. 
  2. Unfasten the mounting bolt to adjust the front derailleur. 
  3. On the other side of the seat tube, a bolt secures the derailleur to the frame. Loosen it to move the derailleur cable easily.
  4. Reposition the derailleur to the correct distance from the outermost chainring.
bike chain slipping when pedaling hard

Worn Chain

If you ride a bike long enough, the chain’s rollers and rivets may get worn. This wear can result in the bike chain slipping when pedaling hard.

The most annoying thing is that riding a bicycle with a worn-out chain can damage your cassette and chainrings. The cassette’s teeth may become deteriorated.

Worn Cassette

No matter how well-maintained your bike is, the cassette will wear out someday. Your new bike chain may slip for various reasons, including worn-out cogs. 

It’s easy to know if the cassette is worn out. The signs include sluggish acceleration, engine braking, loud noises, and jerky gear changes. 

Long Or Short Chain

Another element that may cause bike chains to slip is the length of the chain. The chain may slip and drop between the gears if too long. However, the drivetrain and rear derailleur may get damaged if the chain is too short. 

Follow the steps below to determine the proper chain length:

  1. Put the chain around the biggest sprocket in the back and the biggest chainring in the front.
  2. Properly tension the chain and leave an additional inch or link for the derailleur. You now have the proper length for your new chain. 

Old Shifter

The old shifter is another reason that might cause the chain to skip. Regularly changing and replacing the shifter is recommended so the bike will run smoothly without hiccups. 

Incorrectly Installed Drivetrain Components

You can make many simple mistakes if you replace parts without a solid understanding of component compatibility and interchangeability. 

For instance, directional chains are a common feature of modern Shimano and SRAM drivetrains. One proper way to attach the chain to the drivetrain is to adjust the right part to align with the cogs and chainrings for smooth shifting.

If you do this incorrectly, you can experience chain slides while riding. In addition, you’ll also suffer excessive drivetrain noise and poor shifting.

Dirty Drivetrain Components

The dirty buildup on the cogset doesn’t just slow down gear shifting but also throws off the gear indexing. Inspecting the drivetrain components is important to find dirt and grease buildup. 

Before replacing the present components with the new ones, try to clean cassette and chain by following the steps below: 

  1. Remove the cassette from the wheel.
  2. Soak the cassette and chain completely in the degreaser for a while. 
  3. Use the toothbrush to clean it thoroughly. 
  4. Re-oil it and reinstall it. 

Bent Rear Derailleur 

Most new bicycles have rear derailleur hangers. The chain will skip if this hanger is bent or out of position.

You likely straighten the derailleur hanger once it is bent. There are certain tools that you can use for this duty. 

Firstly, move the pulley up and down by rotating the derailleur clockwise and counterclockwise to align the hanger. 

Then, keep adjusting the nut until you align the pulley properly. 

Too Much Lube 

Chain slipping may result from the sprocket teeth losing contact with the chain due to excessive lubricant. Excessive lubing also makes the components absorb too much dirt and dust, resulting in shortening the lifespan of the chain and chainrings. 

Problems With The Freehub Body 

Freehub body

If the hanger is straight and everything shifts smoothly, the freehub body is likely slipping sometimes. The cassette isn’t laying perfectly flat on the freehub. 

You should take the freehub out of the cogset to align internal parts and check if you use the appropriate cassette on your hub. For example, if you use the 10-speed cassette on an 11-speed hub

If it’s your case, replace your cassette or your hub so that they’re compatible with each other. After that, properly place it in position and check if the chain slips.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Does My Bike Chain Slip Under Pressure?

Extended cables are typical causes of a bike chain slipping.

Why Is My Chain Slipping On My Bike Uphill?

Your chain is slipping because of various causes. The chain may be rusted, have a stiff or bent link, or get dirt clogged. It may be due to inappropriate gear indexing, cable stretch, chain length, old and worn components, etc.

How Long Does A Bike Chain Last?

It would help if you changed your chain every 2,000 to 3,000 miles, depending on your riding style.

Learn how to replace your chain at home by watching the simple guide below:


It requires patience and technical expertise to find the cause of a bike chain slipping. After carefully inspecting each component, you’ll get what is going on.

It may be due to inappropriate gear indexing, cable stretch, chain length, old and worn components, etc. Then, utilize the advice mentioned above as a general guide and work your way down the list until you reach the best result.

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