Why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard? The most daunting thing I have ever experienced with a bike comes out of nowhere… I mean, you are in the middle of your expedition, enjoying the serenity of nature around and applauding scenic extracts, and suddenly with the sound of ‘Crunch,’ your bike chain slips…
Well, like me, every biker hates it. We merely want our chains to be perfectly tacked with the sprocket wheel.
Have been there? It feels irritated, I know.
This is Trevor Humphres. I have been running and fixing bikes for the past 20 years. I love penning my journeys and helpful guides for fellow bikers and newbie riders just for the sake of comfort. You can check them on my blog, MTB Knowledge.
Being into biking, specifically mountain biking, for so many years, I have come to know, find, invent, and discover some super cool hacks and tactics to keep bicycles just like new ones and upgrade their knacks right at the comfort of my garage.
So, as per my knowledge, bike chain slipping or skipping happens due to some common technical reasons. Without addressing this, I am afraid you will remain unable to get rid of this problem.
In this guide, I will discuss the reasons and causes of chain skipping and some perfect ways to keep it in place during longer expeditions and save yourself from the annoyance.
So, with you, let’s start today’s guide on why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard:
Why Does My Bike Chain Slip When I Pedal Hard?
As I said, there are some common or technical causes behind this issue. Common problems can be solved with quick fixes without doing much.
However, if the reason behind the bike chain slipping is technical, you will require mechanically complex repair or parts replacements.
Still, the good thing is that “ghost shifting” or “phantom shifting” (technical terms for chain slipping/skipping) is addressable and solvable without going to an expert.
In the following lines, I am adding some common bike chain slipping reasons:
Bike Chain Slipping – Common Causes
You must have to check if your bicycle chain skips under load or bike chain is skipping while pedaling hard beforehand. Both can be due to different reasons.
Why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard? Here is why:
1. Loosened Chain
With the passage of time, the chain loses its stretch because of overuse, mismanagement, or dirt.
Different bike chains have different lifespans, and they wear out after a specific time, even when the bike is managed correctly, for instance, for dirt, rust, and debris.
This is the most basic thing you will check if facing bike chain skipping while pedaling.
2. Unadjusted drivetrain
When checking the anatomy of the bike, different parts and kits have different names. Among those, the most important one is the ‘drivetrain.’
All other components you choose to push or pull while riding the bike are attached to this very thing. These include pedals, cranks, chainrings, chains, cogs, aka cassettes, and derailleurs.
When there is no proper gear indexing, the chain will definitely skip or slip if you pedal quickly or put some strain on it.
Dirt, dust, rust, and leaving your bike out in the rain or during bad weather are some issues that will make your bike old, outdated, and non-operational.
Due to this, different components of your bike will start getting stuck with each other while you try to push the pedal, pull brakes, or adjust handles. Slipping of chains is also one of these issues.
4. Untightened Cable
Cable tension means the bike wires are in proper health and haven’t lost their stiffness. These mechanical issues also commonly appear in bikes, even in newer ones.
However, these aren’t as technical as they may seem. Besides, you don’t have to replace any kit due to this. Just rightly tightening the cables will save you from searching, “why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard,” online.
5. Worn-out cassette
Cogs, commonly called a cassette, is the rear wheel part of your bike. It consists of a cluster of sprockets attached to the drivetrain.
The main aim of the cassette is to control the ride of your bicycle when you pedal that include properly spindling chainrings.
Cables stretch over time; sometimes, new bikes come with poorly adjusted cables. Just like cables, these are also not as technical to address as they seem.
I am adding a complete guide to fix all these causes, making the chain slip or skip continuously at the end of this guide to save from continuous annoyance.
6. Wrongly Installed Directional chains
Some bikes come with directional chains like there are preset rules for this. The chain keeps slipping or skipping from the sprocket when these rules aren’t followed.
So, you can also check if this is the issue and it will not be challenging to overcome.
Bike Chain Skipping – Technical Reasons
Technical issues that may cause chain slipping are more related to the gears and kits. These can be little high-tech terms for the newbies.
However, you can check my mountain biking guides to get some technical know-how. Why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard? These are some technical issues related to gears and kits:
- Cassette not rightly adjusted on Free-hub
- Wrongly clocked sprocket
- Free-hub pawls wore out
- Hub shell is cranked
Chain Slipping On Bike? Here Is What You Should Do
Once you are aware of the causes behind the issue, solving the problem is way easier. So, once you evaluate the situation, here is the next thing you should do:
First of all, you will verify the health of your gears, specifically the chain and sprocket teeth. With this, you will be able to configure the problem. Check if the chains can be tightened or need changing and act accordingly.
Secondly, do see if the chain is compatible with the drivetrain. For instance, a 12-speed chain cannot be used with an 11-speed set. Make changes!
The third solution is, cleaning the chain. No, I am not talking about the rust and debris, but extra lube or grease. This can also be why chains become extra slippery and never stay on the sprocket.
Fourthly, try to check shifter cable tension, freehub body shell, pawls, and wheel tuning if it is in perfect engagement.
How to Fix a Slipping Bike Chain – Step By Step Guide
For more information, I am adding a video guide from one of my friends and mentors. I have learned from this guy, and he explains things so well.
He is discussing different events to fix a Slipping Bike Chain. I hope after watching this; you will not ask any more why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard or put a strain on it:
Before closing the discussion, here I am adding detailed FAQs that you sent me via email, comments, and contact on social pages:
Why Does My Bike Chain Click When I Pedal Hard?
It happens because of the cable tension that is not rightly adjusted. The clicking sound shows that chain is about to slip, skip, or jump out of the wheel.
To fix this, we need to check the cables that run from the shifter to the rear derailleur. When tension between these is adjusted, the clicking sound usually stops.
Why Does My Chain Slip Under Pressure?
For this, you will have to check the health of the chain and teeth. Sometimes, the chain misses shifters, and broken or bent teeth cause the chain to slip under pressure.
This can be solved by either fixing the gears or replacing them. So, check and evaluate the health of the equipment involved before making a decision.
How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be Single-Speed?
I would recommend you to go with one half-inch of movement in the chain up and down at a point halfway between the front and rear sprockets.
For this, you can lose one of the axle nuts, move the wheel forward or backward slightly to check, and, lastly, snug it up again.
Here my detailed guide ends. I hope now you know all the reasons behind slipping or skipping chains. Bookmark this guide, and next time you exasperate, why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard? Do read this.