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Why Does My Bike Chain Skip

why does my bike chain skip

As a bike owner, it is normal for you to experience issues with your bike from time to time. Since a bike is a collection of so many components and parts, one of these parts may not work as expected, causing some performance issues.

One problem that a biker may face is skipping the bike chain. But why does my bike chain skip? There are many reasons for a bike chain to skip, such as stiff chain links, poor adjustment, and incompatible parts, among other things. All of these reasons will be discussed in this article.

Poor Derailleur Adjustment

If you want to know why does my bike chain keep skipping, one of the most common cause is poor derailleur adjustment. In most modern derailleurs with index shifting, the pulleys in the cage should line up with the cog the chain is on.

If the adjustment is slightly off, where the pulleys are slightly off and not in line with the cog, the chain, especially under torque, might try to jump to the next cog and back again. To correct this issue, you need to adjust the derailleur, particularly the barrel adjuster, so that the pulleys come over and line up with the cog that the chain is on.

However, if you have older bikes with friction shifters, you simply need to adjust the shifter so that the trailer is lined up with the cog. All you have to do is do that manually by feel and practice.

Bent Derailleur Hanger

poor derailleur adjustment

Another reason for the bike chain to skip is a bent derailleur or derailleur hanger. Please note that the cage should be straight with the cogs. However, once it is bent over towards the spokes, bent away from the spokes, or bent out at an angle, the derailleur itself is damaged, or the hanger is slightly bent.

Several ways to strain the derailleur hanger can be learned to address this issue. Straightening the derailleur hanger will eventually correct the issue and prevent the chain from skipping again.

Worn Chain or Cassette

When you notice that the chain slipped over the teeth and fell back into the next slot, it’s probably because your chain is worn-out or cassette. When this happens, you only need to check if these bike parts are worn-out.

Different ways to check if your chain is worn out can be done to confirm the issue. You can also check the cassette to see if it is worn out, especially if you have confirmed that the chain is worn out. Identifying a worn-out cassette or freewheel is tricky and requires experience to confirm the issue.

But please remember that most bikers tend to ride in specific cogs more often than others. So, the cogs that are used extensively will wear faster compared to the others. Furthermore, the smaller cogs tend to wear faster than the big cogs under the same riding amount since the chain is in contact with fewer teeth on the smaller cogs than on the bigger ones.

Each of the teeth will wear faster than the other. In this situation, you need to examine and look at the cogs carefully. Find misshapen teeth from various cogs and look for teeth worn out differently than the teeth on the largest cogs.

You will see some teeth that are skinnier than others. Some teeth come with weird ramps and are completely different from the other teeth. You can also use tools to check on the sprocket to check if the cassette is worn out.

The only problem with these tools is they will only work equally on some cassettes. So, if the link or cassette is worn out, the best solution is to replace it with new ones.

Stiff Chain Links

bike chain skip

One of the reasons why my bike chain slip when I pedal hard is when the chain link is stiff. You need to check on your bike’s chain link to see if it is not stiff. A chain link must pivot freely at the rivets. However, when your chain is old or your chain is a little bit rusty, it causes the links to be stiff.

Sometimes, you will also see links stuck or barely moving for aging or other reasons. What will happen with stiff links when they go through the derailleur pulleys is that the derailleur will have to pull forward the cage so that it will cut, pop forward and pop back as those links go through.

You will also feel popping during the ride when those links go through the pulleys. To correct this issue, get some oil into the pivot point and work on those links until it frees up a little bit.

To correct this issue, you need to replace the link since it is in bad shape, which indicates that it needs replacement immediately.

Incompatible Components

Another reason for the bike chain to skip is incompatible components. In this factor, you have knowledge about the history of the bike. So, you will be the one who can answer if your bike has incompatible components or not.

Having mismatched components, especially in the drivetrain, can cause auto shifting or bad shifting, where the chain tends to come between cogs. If you are running a 9-speed shifter with an 8-speed cassette, that is mismatched already and can cause the chain to skip.

The difference in brands can also cause mismatched and can cause the bike chain to skip. Mismatched bike components can also cause other issues on your bike, making it essential to replace your bike parts correctly with the right components.

Frame Flex

One of the things that might cause the chain to auto-shift and change back and forth is frame flex. The frame seems stiff, but they flex a little bit. When a biker is climbing on the hill or standing on the pedal, it can cause the frame to twist back and forth.

The force behind the twist can cause the chain to jump up to another cog and back. You can check on the derailleur adjustment to check if it is slightly off. If the frame is flexing, especially when it is lightweight, make sure to climb hills in the seating position so as not to affect the frame.


Why does my bike chain skip? Several reasons can cause this issue and were discussed in detail in this article. If you notice that your bike chain is skipping during the ride, try to analyze your bike and look for the possible reason behind the issue. Then, apply the necessary correction to rectify the issue for a safe and comfortable bike ride.

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