Let’s hear it for the top three skips: to My Lou, the queue, and work for the day. Noticeably absent is a skipping bike chain. That spells trouble. When your bike chain starts to skip, you could have problems switching gears and navigating your two-wheel chariot.
The good news is that even though a skipping bike chain is annoying, you don’t have to be a mechanic or even a seasoned cyclist to make it right. Here are some tips for what to do when your bike chain skips:
Why Do Bicycle Chains Skip?
When your bike chain skips between gears while you’re riding, or shifts twice instead of once when you try to change gears, the most common culprit is a loose cable. Your bike cables naturally stretch over time. Most stretching happens within the first few rides after you install a new cable, but older cables stretch too far. That’s when the trouble begins.
Without enough cable tension to properly regulate your derailleur (the part of your bike that shifts the chain from one sprocket to the next), your chain will begin to skip.
Common Fixes for Skipping Chains
The most typical recommendation for fixing a skipping chain is to add tension to the rear derailleur. However, there may be times when you have to either shorten the chain by removing a link or swapping out the shifter cable altogether. It’s also possible that the cable is too tight. You should begin with the least intrusive repair attempt first (adding tension) and only replace parts if that doesn’t work. We’d hate to see you throw away some perfectly good cables when a 10-minute tension adjustment would have done the trick.
While these steps will resolve most chain skipping issues, it is also possible that your chain itself is too stretched or that it’s just too long. You may be able to fix the problem by removing a few excess links. Or you might want to see if the entire chain has seen better days. Remember: every part of your bike, including the cable, will need to be replaced from time to time. It’s better to replace them as needed than risk a serious accident from riding on old parts.
Once your bike chain is fixed and skip-free, you’re ready to hit the trails again. Join our Journey Club to uncover biking locations around the world and connect with other cyclists.