Why Does My Mountain Bike Chain Skip?

Why Does My Mountain Bike Chain Skip

Rough, worn-out old chains could be the reason for mountain bike chains skipping. You might even have dirt on your chain, which has been serviced for a long time. Chains need caring, too, you know.

Although mountain bike chains are made of metal ( most of them), they are fragile and need care and protection regularly. Lack of care is one of the many reasons for mountain bike chain skipping.

Sometimes your chain might be stretched out to its max, which will make the chain skip.

Don’t worry; we have a solution. If you are wondering why your mountain bike chain skipped and how to prevent it, you’re at the right place.

Let’s get started.

What is Causing My Mountain Bike to Skip?

What is Causing My Mountain Bike to Skip

There are many reasons why your mountain bike may be skipped. Here are some of the reasons:

Worn Out Chain

If you are a heavy mountain bike user, your bike has been used frequently. These long rides have affected your bike’s chain, causing it to skip. This is the first and most common cause of chain skipping.

Mountain bike chains stretch over time, so use a chain checker tool to see whether it has stretched out too much. You should change your bicycle chain regularly.

Dirty Chain

If you are someone who rides on off-road trails often, then you will for sure catch dirt in your chain. If your chain is dirty, the dirt will dry over time and become stiff. This will affect your bike and decrease its speed significantly. 

Again, use a chain checker tool and check for specks of dirt. After you have identified them, clean them.

Gear Issues

Gear adjusting issues are another common reason that causes bike chains to skip. Funnily enough, new bikes have this problem too. 

It has a straightforward solution; a quick fixup of the barrel adjuster and cable tension can fix the issue. Sometimes you may need to reset your cable tension completely, but don’t worry; it won’t hurt your MTB.


A car needs fuel to run; similarly, a mountain bike’s chain must be lubricated often for it to be smooth all the time. 

Lack of lubrication will slow down your bike’s speed, sometimes even rusting your bike’s chain. Your chain can also break while riding, which is dangerous if you’re speeding.

Lubricating your mountain bike’s chain is crucial. You must lubricate it regularly. Make sure you know which amount is the best for your bike. As too much lubricant can allure dirt.

Bad Installment of Bike Chains

Sometimes bike chains are faulty. If the placement of your bike chain is not correct, the chain will skip. Along with this, bikes require certain chains. You can’t install the chain of a Fat Bike to an Enduro bike.

If your bike runs on two chains and you have previously swapped the chain with another chain, you may face skipping. This is why you should be careful while changing your chains. You should keep track of the chain’s length, size, etc., and make sure you don’t mess up while changing. 

How To Fix a Skipping Bike Chain?

How To Fix a Skipping Bike Chain

Bike chains that skip make the entire riding process unpleasant. Not to mention, extremely dangerous, as your chain might snap anytime.

If you have a bike chain that skips, these are some ways to fix it. 

Step: 1 Check the chain.

Sometimes your chain may have gotten some dirt in it; you can check the chain to find any dirt or other things that are making the chain rigid. 

Step: 2 Move your pedal

After you have identified the problem, move your bike’s pedal so that you can see how firm or loose the bike chain is. Sometimes moving the pedal helps in checking if your chain is too lubricated or not.

Step: 3 Rotate the Barrel Adjuster

Barrel adjusters help in cable tension. Barrel adjusters play a role in shifting gears. So turning the barrel clockwise will help in decreasing cable tension.

Step: 4 Fix Derailleur’s screw

When fixing the chain, keep an eye on the derailleur’s screw, as you may need to readjust it. This screw is also called B-screw. While you’re tightening the screw, use a screwdriver to speed up the process.

Step: 5 Check the cassette.

Sometimes, along with the mountain bike’s chain, the cassette might be worn out too. You should take a look at the cassette and see if it’s dirty or has rust in it. Both of these are not good signs for the cassette.

If your cassette has rust in it, we recommend replacing the cassette.

Step: 6 Replace chain

If your chain has been replaced for a long time, it will show signs of being worn out and becoming too rigid. Use a chain-wearing scale to measure the chain, and it will tell if you need your chain replaced or not.

Besides, it’s best to replace your chain regularly. It prevents chain skipping and also provides the best experience for the rider.

How to Prevent Your Mountain Bike Chain from Skipping?

How to Prevent Your Mountain Bike Chain from Skipping

Mountain bike chain skipping is something that happens often. But knowing how to fix and prevent it from happening can save you lots of time and energy. Here’s how you may avoid your MTB chain from skipping:

Proper Maintenance 

Your bike is an asset and an investment. If you take care of it regularly, you’ll find skipping chains less. The chains, pulleys, derailleur screws, cables, barrel adjuster, etc., are a few things that must be looked after. 

Keep your cables tight and check the chain often to see how lubricated it is. Remember, too much or too little lubricant is bad for your chain.

Use appropriate Shifting

If you mountain bike on an elevated surface, you are most likely using gears. The chain is under a lot of pressure when you are riding on a high surface. The gears only add to the pressure. 

Bike chains may fail under excessive pressure. So as you ride through an elevated surface, try to keep the pressure as minimal as possible. You may need to slow your speed, but don’t hit the brakes immediately; it will make you prone to accidents.

Replace your chain regularly.

Your chain should be replaced regularly as chains stretch as you ride. We recommend using chain wear indicators or calipers. 

To check if your chain needs to be replaced or not, put the indicator over the chain. A brand-new chain should put your indicator at the twelveinch mark. If it’s anywhere in the 1/16-inch area, it’s time for a new chain.

Wrapping Up

Bike chain skipping is a common problem most riders face. It gets annoying, considering how often a chain skips. Not knowing how to fix the bike chain could be frustrating for some riders.

Your bike chain may skip due to insufficient care towards it, over-lubricating, catching dirt, etc. You should check your chain for dirt, wear out, or stretch. Use an indicator to measure the stretch and replace it accordingly. 

Remember, skipping bike chains is normal and doesn’t have to be frustrating to fix. Just know what you’re doing, and following the steps above should help you out with the fixing.