Why Does My Bike Chain Slip When I Pedal Hard?

Riding a cycle is a great way to exercise, and there’re even competitions on this where people ride hard and furiously through the mountain roads. That requires them to pedal fast and hard to gain enough speed to climb the mountain.

However, mountain bikers especially face the issue of their chain slipping on the bike while pedaling – it doesn’t matter whether they’re $800, or $700 e-bike. And many bikers wonder, “why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard?”

There’re several reasons behind chain slipping, and that’s why we thought why not provide a guideline to answer the question and provide a solution, which will help you to fix the chain and get back to riding.

What Is Chain Slip?

The chain on your bike helps you move forward when you pedal. It connects the back tire and gear with the pedal, and when you move the pedal with your feet, that allows the chain to rotate along with the gear. That’s when the tire starts to roll, and you start going forward.

What Is Chain Slip

However, cyclists often face an issue like chain slipping on bike or skipping. It’s one of the major yet widespread problems with the bike. There’s no way to ignore it, so you’ll have to know the reason and how to fix it on the fly.

A chain slip is when you shift to the next gear. The chain goes to the next gear instead of landing on the gear that you put on. That means you shift once, and the chain tends to slip and skips that gear and lands on the next.

Why Does My Bike Chain Slip When I Pedal Hard?

You must be wondering why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard. There’re many reasons behind that –

Why Does My Bike Chain Slip When I Pedal Hard

1. Stretched cables

It’s the most common issue the bikers face. Over time, the shift cable stretches, making it difficult to shift or even causing chain slipping or skipping. The easiest way to solve the problem is to change the cable.

2. Worn Out Chain

A worn-out chain can cause the chain to slip or skip. High-intensity riding can cause this problem, and the chain is withstanding continuous damage and stretches. That is why the chain loses its good mechanical contact, which causes the bike chain slipping on the front sprocket. Replacing the chain is the best option as it reduces the chance of damaging the cassette. Moreover, you can use a chain ruler that can help you check and determine the health of your bike’s chain.

Worn Out Chain

3. Cog Teeth Wearing Out

The cassette and the chain rings can also get damaged. It’s because of using a worn-out chain extensively for a period of time. That’s when the cog teeth start slipping the chain, resulting in a bad riding experience.

Cog Teeth Wearing Out

A stretched chain widens the space between the teeth, and even after changing the chain, the rollers don’t sit properly and result in the same issue. However, it’s normal to have one or two worn-out cogs, but replacing the part is the way to go if it’s more.

4. Incompatible Parts

Compatibility matters the most when it comes to replacing parts on your bike. Even if an incompatible part fits, it won’t work as efficiently as you wanted. Suppose you brought a new chain and cassette to replace the worn-out parts; however, if parts aren’t compatible, you’ll face the same chain slipping issue as before.

5. Freewheel Body Shell Issues

Wearing out the freehub shell is rare as these parts are sturdy and made from extremely high-quality materials. However, some freehubs are made from cheap quality aluminum, resulting in breakage or wearing out in the future.

If the freehub shell is damaged, the chain will start slipping when you pedal hard, and eventually, the sprocket will lose mechanical contact.

6. Possible Problems of Chain Skipping Gears

The common problem behind bike gears slipping or skipping gears is losing efficiency while ridding. It’s quite challenging, especially when you’re in a race or in a continuous ridding. Besides, chain skipping gear can also damage the cassette and the chain rings, resulting in a full part replacement for the bike.

7. Possible Problems of Chain Skipping Over Teeth

If you see that the bike chain is skipping over the teeth, then the possible answer is that the cog teeth are worn out. When the chain skips over the teeth, that reduces the friction; thus, the tires won’t roll. Skipping over the teeth won’t allow the rider to push the bike forward as there will be nothing for the chain to grab and pull to rotate the tire.

How Do I Know if My Bike Chain Is Too Loose?

The best way to check the length of your bike’s chain is by eyeballing it from the side. Your eyes are your best guide in this case, as it’s effortless to identify and replace when or if necessary.

How Do I Know if My Bike Chain Is Too Loose

Go to the side of your bike and keep your level with the chain. That’s why, you can check if the chain is hanging between the chain rings and the rear cogs. If so, then it’ll be the possible cause for chain skipping the gear as you pedal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you put tension on a bike chain?

To increase the tension on your bike chain, you’ll have to raise the quick-release lever and then slide the wheel axel backwards. That’ll release the tension on the chain.

Why does my chain come off when I pedal backwards?

If the derailleur hanger or the derailleur itself is out of order or bent, it can cause the chain to come off when you pedal backwards. On the other hand, the chain might also need alignment.

How do you tension a single speed chain?

First, loosen the axle nuts and move the bike’s wheel forward and backwards, and that will do the trick.


Hopefully, our article helped you to understand regarding “why does my bike chain slip when I pedal hard” and also how to resolve that issue on the fly. Moreover, we also provided you with every problem that can cause the chain to slip and how you can fix them to start biking again. And, don’t forget to have a bike helmet while riding.

Happy Riding!

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