What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Have you ever gone for a ride on your bike only to experience the bike chain suddenly slipping, shifting twice, or refusing to shift when you were changing gears? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be.

This common problem is known as “bike chain skipping” and it’s something all bikers eventually face. It’s important to understand what to do if your bike chain skips and how to fix it so that your rides can be enjoyable and free of unpleasant surprises.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Should I get a new bike chain? What are the ways to fix a skipping bike chain? In this article, we’ll dive into a bike chain slipping and provide some tips on how to prevent it from happening.

We’ll cover everything from understanding what causes the problem in the first place to providing advice on the best ways to repair a bike chain slipping. So if you’re tired of dealing with this issue and want to get rid of it for good, read on!

Introduction to skipping bike chain

If you’ve been a biker for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with the issue of skipping chain.

It’s an annoying and potentially dangerous problem that can occur when you’re switching gears, and it’s easy to put it down to operator error.

But several other issues can lead to bike chain to skip, so it’s important to understand what causes the problem and how to fix it. Otherwise, you would have to get a new chain. 

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

How do you know if your bike chain is slipping?

If your bike chain seems to be slipping, there are several telltale signs. For starters, you’ll likely hear a clicking sound or feel the chain jump every time you try to change gears.

In some cases, your bike might even begin to buck or resist when you pedal.

You can also apply some simple diagnostic techniques to determine if your bike chain is slipping.

Start by pedaling up a steep hill on the middle gear and listening for any sounds that indicate that the chain is skipping or shifting more than once.

If the noise persists, try changing to a different gear and observing whether the problem continues.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Finally, take a look at certain sections of the chain near the cogs.

If they appear worn down or frayed in any way, this could be an indication that your chain is skipping too much and needs to be replaced.

Common causes of skipping bike chains 

There can be several different causes behind the skipping bike chain, but some of the most common are:

  1. Improperly tensioned chain – if your bike’s chain is either too loose or too tight, it will slip off the gears when you attempt a shift.
  2. Dirty or dry chain – dirt and grime can cause your drivetrain components to become sticky or jammed up, which will prevent smooth shifting. Dry-lubing your bike’s drivetrain regularly is crucial for maintenance. If this doesn’t work, you may need to replace them with other drivetrain components or even get a new bike chain.
  3. Chain wear – if your chain is worn out after extensive use, it won’t be able to engage with the teeth on the gears properly and may slip off during shifts. Regularly changing your worn chain with a new bike chain can help prevent this from happening prematurely.
  4. Bent derailleur – sometimes a derailleur hanger can become bent or tweaked due to pressure from frequent shifting or an impact from crashing, which will interfere with smooth gear changes and make the bike more prone to skipping chains.
  5. Incorrect gear ratio – An incorrect gear ratio is a common issue among cyclists, especially those who ride competitively or for long distances. It can cause several issues, such as difficulty maintaining high speeds on flat terrain parts,To determine the ideal gear ratio for your bike, consider your riding style, terrain, and fitness level. If you are unsure how to adjust your gear ratio, seek advice from a bike shop or experienced cyclist.

How to identify and diagnose a chain slip problem?

It’s always useful to be able to identify when you’re experiencing a chain skip problem. The most common symptom is when your chain suddenly feels loose when you start pedaling.

This is because the chain hasn’t been regulated properly and starts slipping too low while pedaling. You may also feel a decrease in power or torque when shifting gears, as the chain’s tension isn’t sufficient to make it move up or down correctly.

In addition to these common symptoms, you can also diagnose the problem by listening carefully for any unusual noises that your bike makes while shifting between gears.

A rattling sound, for instance, indicates that the chain is slipping or jumping. It’s worth noting that this noise will usually happen only after some wear and tear on your bike chain over time.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Finally, if your bike has derailleurs (the part of the bike that shifts between sprockets), it’s important to check for any loose or missing parts, as these can lead to a chain slip issue as well.

If these look out of place, it may be worth bringing your bike to a mechanic or even making certain adjustments yourself, depending on how comfortable you are with this process.

How to set up your front derailleur to prevent bike chains slipping?

Front and rear derailleur: If you’ve been struggling with your bike chain slipping, one of the best ways to make sure it doesn’t happen is by setting up your front derailleur (the same goes for the rear derailleur) correctly.

It’s the mechanism that moves your chain from one gear to another, and when it isn’t adjusted properly, you can get the skipping of the chain.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Here are a few steps to take to ensure your front derailleur is set up correctly:

  • Make sure the chain is on the largest cog in the front and the largest sprocket in the rear.
  • Tighten the limit screws on both sides of the derailleur, so it won’t move too far out or inward when shifting gears.
  • If you have the right barrel adjuster, tighten it slightly until you hear a faint clicking noise.
  • When shifting gears, use steady pressure until you hear an audible click, and then release for optimum performance.

Mountain bike chain skipping gears issue 

Mountain bike riding can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also come with technical challenges.

One common issue is mountain bike skip, which occurs when the bike chain skips gears on the rear cassette, causing the rider to lose momentum and control.

A mountain chain’s skipping can be caused by a loose chain or a damaged derailleur hanger, which can throw off the alignment of the rear derailleur and cause the chain to skip.

To fix the mountain bike chain issue, you should first check the tension of your mountain bike chain. If there is a loose chain, you can adjust it by loosening the rear axle and pulling the wheel back slightly to increase tension.

If the chain is too loose, you must remove one or two chain links. If the chain is tight (or worn chain), you may need to replace it altogether.

If the chain tension is not the issue, the next step is to inspect the rear derailleur hanger. If it is bent or damaged, you will need to replace it.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

This may involve removing the rear wheel and using a special tool to remove the old derailleur hanger and install a new one.

In some cases, the mountain bike chain’s skip may be caused by a worn-out cassette. If this is the case, you will need to replace the cassette to fix the problem.

This involves removing the rear wheel and using a cassette removal tool to remove the old cassette and install a new one.

The slipping bike chain can be fixed by checking the tension of the mountain bike chain, inspecting the rear derailleur hanger, and replacing any damaged parts.

By taking care of your bike and performing regular maintenance, you can avoid many common technical issues and enjoy a smooth ride on the trails.

If you don’t want to go over all these difficulties, you can skip to getting a new chain part. 

How to lubricate your bike chain to reduce skipping?

You may want to try lubricating your bike chain if it’s slipping. Lubrication makes the movement of the chain smoother and reduces friction, preventing skipping.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

But, you should be careful when lubricating your bike chain — too little or too much oil can cause more trouble. Plus, if the oil is exposed to dirt and grime over time, it must be removed or replaced.

Here are a few steps to help you properly lubricate your bike chain:

  1. Start by cleaning the bike chain and remove any dirt accumulated over time
  2. Use a brush to scrub off any dirt and debris that have been stuck in between the links
  3. Now apply chain lubricant on the inner sections of the chain’s links and roller
  4. Spin pedals with one hand while holding a lint-free rag with another hand and wipe off the excess lube on each link and bike frame 
  5. Finally, check for smooth shifting movement and make sure there’s no skipping when you shift gears.
  6. If there is still some skipping, repeat steps 1-5 until it has been solved!

Solutions to fix a bike chain skip

If your chain is skipping, try these solutions that can help fix the issue:

Check your shifting technique

The most common reason for a bike chain skip is incorrect shifting technique. Make sure to press the shifter with steady pressure and wait for it to move before you push it again. Also, ensure that the shift lever comes back fully after each shift to ensure complete gear engagement.

Adjust the limit screws

Incorrectly adjusted limit screws on a derailleur can cause a bike chain skipping and other shifting issues. You can adjust them yourself using a hex key or take them to your local bike shop for professional help.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Replace damaged or worn out chain rings

Another culprit behind bike chain skip could be worn out or damaged chain rings, which can prevent the cog from engaging properly with the chain.

It’s best to replace them before they damage other components in your drivetrain system, like shifters and front or rear derailleur.

Lubricate the chain

If you haven’t lubricated your bike’s chain in a while, chances are that it could skip over cogs because of excessive friction between the links and plates of the chain, as well as between itself and other components in the drivetrain system (like gears).

Try lubricating your bike chain with an appropriate lube product like WD-40 Specialist Bike Dry Lube Spray and see if it resolves the issue.

Tips for maintaining your mountain bike chain and cog teeth

If you bike often, your mountain bike chain and cog teeth will inevitably wear out over time. To prevent this from happening, follow these tips for maintaining your mountain bike chain and cog teeth:

Cleaning the drivetrain

Before you start cleaning the drivetrain, make sure to inspect it for dirt, oil, or other substances that could get caught in the sprockets and rear derailleur.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

This can help protect your mountain bike from further wear and tear. Use a clean rag to wipe off any excess grime from the mountain bike chain and cogs, then use an appropriate cleaner to finish off the job.


When it comes to lubricating, it’s important to use a lubricant specifically designed for bikes.

This type of lubricant is usually made up of a mineral oil base with some additional additives, such as Teflon or wax.

You should apply a thin film of lubricant on both sides of the chain after cleaning it and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off any excess with a clean rag.

This will help ensure that the entire drivetrain is properly lubricated without leaving behind too much gunk.


Finally, make sure to keep an eye on any bolts or screws connecting parts of the drivetrain. Over time, they can become loose due to vibration or other factors.

If this happens, be sure to tighten them back up as soon as possible so that you don’t risk skipping gears while riding your mountain bike.

How to install and maintain your bike chain?

Installing and maintaining your bike chain is a fairly simple process that doesn’t take much time. Here are some tips on how to install and maintain your bike chain properly to prevent it from slipping:


Before you install a new bike chain, make sure you have the right type of chain for the bike you’re riding, as different types of chains will work differently.

To install a new bike chain, you’ll need just two items: an adjustable wrench and a lube brush. To get started, align the ends of the chain together as they meet on the derailleur system.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

Tighten up each side of the chain, one by one, until they are snug. Finally, add lubrication to all areas where metal meets metal by using the lube brush.


Once your bike chain is installed, proper maintenance is key to avoid slipping and keep it running smoothly. Make sure you keep it lubricated regularly and inspect it for wear or damage after each ride.

Check for any signs of unusual wear or damage such as rust, cracks, or missing teeth in the sprockets, or links in the chain itself.

If any irregularities are present, replace them immediately before they worsen and lead to more severe issues down the road. Also, make sure that all nuts and bolts are securely tightened throughout your ride to keep everything in place.

What causes the rear derailleur to skip?

Bike chain skips can be caused by misaligned derailleur, worn parts, dirty parts, or improper tension.

Worn parts

When a part of the bike wears down or breaks, it can cause the derailleur to misalign and cause skips in the chain.

Cables can fray or break, and pulleys can get worn down from long-term use. It is important to inspect these components regularly and replace them when necessary.

Dirty parts

Dirt and grime can build up on your bike’s components over time, making them less efficient at shifting gears. Regularly cleaning your drivetrain is essential for keeping it properly lubricated and functioning correctly.

Also, check for rust build-up—left unchecked, it can cause serious damage to your rear derailleur over time.

Incorrect cable tension

If you experience skips in your bike chain after adjusting the cable tension, this could be a sign that you have set it too loose or too tight. If you are unsure how to properly adjust your cable tension, refer to a professional biker or an online tutorial for help with this step-by-step process.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

How to solve chain slipping with a barrel adjuster?

Chain slipping is an easy problem to solve with the barrel adjuster on your derailleur. It should be small and metal-looking, with a knurled surface for a grip.

To adjust, turn it clockwise until the chain stops skipping. It should only take one or two rotations to get the right tension for smooth transitioning between gears.

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)

If you can still feel the chain skipping when you shift gears, turn it one more click until it feels right.


We’ve given you information on fixing the chain skip issue since you’ve learned the ways of dealing with it.

We hope you would follow our tips and won’t have headaches. If none of the above works, we are afraid you will need to buy a new chain. 

What To Do If Your Bike Chain Skips? (Complete Guide)


Why does my bike chain skip?

Worn or misaligned derailleur pulleys, old or malfunctioning shifters that throw off the indexing in some gears, or broken/bent teeth on one or more cassette cogs are examples. Dirt and grime buildup on drivetrain components will also cause shifting issues, including chain skip.

Why does my bike chain skip when I pedal hard?

These can be smashed and worn derailleurs, distorted steering wheel/steering shafts, or worn/toothless cassette drives. The buildup of dirt and grime in drivetrain parts can cause shifting problems and failure to start.

How do you fix a skipping bike?

Cable stretch can be avoided by adding tension to the cables. Shift the chain into the smallest ring on the rear cassette (hardest gear) and the middle or larger ring on the front derailleur to fix a skip. Once, press the shifter. Add tension to the bike chain if it does not move up a gear.

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