Bike Won’t Pedal Forward – 8 Reasons And Solutions

Your bike won’t pedal forward. In this case, you can not move your bike at all, or it will operate with great difficulty. You may also hear grinding sounds from the bicycle’s middle or rear parts. 

If this uncomfortable situation is happening to you, don’t worry. We will tell you all the possible reasons and how to fix your issue right now. Let’s scroll down!

8 Reasons Why Bike Won’t Pedal Forward

The issue of bike pedals won’t move forward can be due to many reasons. A fallen or stuck-up chain is the number one cause. If you’ve checked and the part is okay, you may have a misaligned, bent derailleur or locked front/ back wheel. 

bike won't pedal forward

Stuck Up Chain

Why are my bike pedals not working? When you’re wondering, inspect the chain first. A stuck-up or broken chain is most likely the culprit you’re looking for.

If it happens when you’re riding, you need to stop immediately to prevent further collision of the cassette and spokes. Otherwise, your cassette, derailleur, and rim can be affected, too.

When you identify the master link of the chain is damaged, use the chain tool to remove and replace it with the spare one. If the part is not broken, you just need the pliers to assemble it back together. 

Fallen Chain

A fallen chain can get stuck between the chainrings, causing difficulty for the crank arms to spin; thus, your bike doesn’t pedal forward. 

Dealing with this problem is quite easy. You just need to move the derailleur forward and put the chain on the smallest chainring. Next, bring the rear wheel up and rotate the cranks. The chain will get into the default gear, and you can continue riding.

However, if your chain falls off often, you may have a too-long chain, broken links, or a damaged chainring. Besides, your front derailleur limit screws may have been installed improperly. Also, the deformed derailleur or its hanger can cause chain misalignment. 

why are my bike pedals not working

Falling Gear Cable, Shifter, Or Derailleur

All of these details are important to the proper performance of the pedals. A faulty derailleur may cause a small impact, such as debris between the jockey wheels, but sometimes, it may lead to bigger issues.

The front derailleur is less likely to get damaged, but the rear one is because this component is exposed and can easily be broken. For example, twisted rear derailleurs may stop the chain’s movements, preventing the pedals from spinning.    

Locked Front Or Back Wheel

All bicycles have their maximum tire width limitations. Once your tires (both front and back) are wider than suggested, they will touch the fork legs. 

The tires also will rub against your front or back fender (if any). In both cases, you may feel like you are pressing the brake. Thus, I advise you to change your bike’s tires to clear the issue.

Moreover, there are cartridge bearings inside your wheel hubs. They can deteriorate due to water and dirt. Therefore, paying attention to this part is highly recommended to ensure the pedal’s rotation.

Problematic Rear Hub

When you experience the rear wheel rotating with struggles and the chain is not in its position, there’s a high chance that the hub mechanism is dirty or even damaged. 

The most possible scenario is that the hub is jammed due to the broken status of the ratcheting system’s pawls. It requires you to replace the bike hub. Yet, we highly recommend you not do it yourself, as the rim-replacing process is not something inexperienced can handle. 

Stuck Or Rusted Pedal Crank Arms

There are cases when your pedal crank arms can’t move freely. It’s because they are corroded or rusted, requiring a replacement. But before doing so, we suggest you look for rusty signs on the bottom racket and other drivetrain parts, too. 

Once you determine the level of rust is not serious, you can use grease to make the bottom bracket work smoothly. Cleaning this part from the infiltrated water and dirt may preserve the performance of the crank arms. 

bike pedals won't move forward

Rubbing Brake

A rubbing brake makes the pedal’s rotation much more difficult. Plus, when the brake pad and rotor are too close, its contact causes excess drag and affects your riding. 

If you hear a metallic scraping sound when you turn the wheel, it means the two components are touching each other. The wheel may spin slightly or not at all, depending on the distance between the rotor and brake pads.

Broken Frame

A crash can lead to the changing position of the chainstays, causing difficulty for the rear wheel to spin. You can inspect its condition by checking the rear triangle for any deformation. 

In this case, replacing the cracked bike frame is the only solution. It will not cost too much if your bicycle is the simple and common type.

What To Do When Your Bike Not Pedaling Forward?

There are some components you should inspect to find out the root cause and address the issue.

  • Check the pedals to see if they are tightened correctly and firmly in place. Fix any loose bolts. 
  • Pay attention to the wear and tear of the pedals. If they are broken or worn out, replace them.
  • Proper alignment of the chain is important. You need to ensure the part is not too loose or too tight. Use the derailleur or wheel nuts to create proper tension.
  • Replace the damaged or bent derailleur, if any.
  • Use the spray to lubricate the jammed freewheel mechanism. Keep spinning and spraying until it goes smoothly.
  • Inspect the brake pads if they are misaligned and touch against the wheel’s rim.

The Bottom Lines

Your bike won’t pedal forward. It frustrates many riders, yet the reasons and solutions are quite simple. The issue is fixable with the above suggestions. If you’re still struggling, bring it to a repair shop. Plus, I highly recommend regular maintenance to ensure a smooth operation for your running pedals.

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