How to Deal With Bicycle Gear Slipping

Riding a bike can be therapeutic for the majority of people, but it certainly does not come without a few possible hitches. But do not fret, many professional bikers have had problems with bike gears slipping, among other things. It definitely is a hassle, especially if it happens during a ride and possibly in the middle of nowhere.

This article will cover all the basics everyone should know about this problem: how it happens, why it occurs, and how to properly maintain the bike to avoid such inconveniences. Enjoy the read.

What is Gear Slipping?

Gear slipping on bike is one of the most common problems that can occur during a bike ride. It can happen with any multi-geared bike and can be defined as a moment where the chain of the bicycle slips or skips between gears, or if it does not shift gears at all. In other words, any time the chain is disobedient to your command to shift the gear and does whatever it wants to do.

Being one of the busiest parts of the bicycle, one that is always working, the chain is oftentimes prone to being a nuisance from time to time and cause problems to a bicycle, if not properly taken care of.

Now, the good news is that it is easily manageable by yourself at home and there is no need to hire a professional repairperson, unless the malfunction is too large for you to handle it on your own.

What Are The Possible Causes of This Problem?

Amazingly for such a common problem, there is a plethora of things that might cause gear slipping, from the chain being worn out all the way to the problems with other finer parts of the bicycle.

Shift Cable

The first common cause of gear slipping is the shift cable stretch, especially if the bike is new. In order to shift gears, the shift cable has to be under tension to open the derailleur and switches the chain between gears. The new bicycles already have the cable tension applied, but there are cases where after a week or two of riding, the cable tension decreases.

Luckily, tightening the cable is usually not difficult, but it requires a bit of fine-tuning to make the cable tight enough. You just need to put the tension on the cable with wrenches and tighten the screws locking the cable in place, after which you just need to test the gear shifts and apply more or less tension, and you are done.

Bike Makes a Clicking Noise When Pedaling

Worn Chain

Secondly, a worn chain might also be an issue, commonly in older bicycles. Numerous actions affect the chain, most common rule is that bike gears slip when pedaling hard, as high-intensity pedaling stretches the chain and makes the chain lose the round shape, making it difficult for the chain to establish good contact with sprockets.

Additionally, if you take care of your bike chain and it is still slipping, a possible cause might be the overuse of oil or lube. While it is good to lube up the chain it is possible to use too much of the substance and make it too slippery to maintain constant contact with the cogs. A little bit of oil will do the trick.

Freehub Deformity

Thirdly, freehub might be a problem for chain slipping. In case you don’t know, the freehub is the little cylinder that acts as a medium between the wheel and gears. To put it simply, it is a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to stop pedaling and still keep the momentum of the wheels. Sometimes they can get worn out or highly damaged and cause the chain to fall, as the sprocket loses contact with the freehub shell.

Bad Cog Teeth

Another major cause for gear slipping is the cog itself. If your chain slips often or looks a brand new chain looks damaged after a week, worn cog teeth might be the problem. The main reason cogs get worn out is the chain itself widening the teeth gaps.

The stretched chain will not sit tooth-to-gap but will widen the space and damage and deform the teeth during the ride, causing more damage and finally a gear slip. Usually, 2 to 3 worn teeth on a cog are alright, but if a quarter of them is damaged, it is time for a new cog.

Shifting System itself

Finally, a bad shifting system is also one of the major causes of the gear slipping. You can easily detect if it’s the shifting system that has been making your head hurt by the noise it makes. If you hear out-of-the-ordinary clicking or cracking noise while pedaling, that’s the cue.

Checking the system is your best bet, start with the shifting cable tension, which has been covered already in the beginning. If it’s tense enough, check the derailleur. The rear derailleur should be parallel with the wheel, if it’s bent to either left or right, it might break the alignment of the chain and cause it to slip when you pedal fast.

In addition, the derailleur hanger should also be checked, as they are usually very fragile and can be easily damaged during rough riding. If they’re bent, they push the chain and cause either random shift or chain slip.

Or the shifter is simply a low-quality one, and even the small bumps make the shifter randomly switch gears, which might seem like the gear slip is happening. Although that can still make the gear slip it really might happen once in a blue moon.

Pedaling Hard

Mentioned throughout the article but still an important topic that simply has to be mentioned again. Remember: bike gears slip when pedaling hard. If you are an adrenaline rider or it is a part of your training, you will pedal hard, but try to first test in a safe environment whether it will slip before you get stranded somewhere in the middle of your ride.

How Can I Prevent It From Happening?

While it may happen to you, it is extremely preventable. To put it simply, you have to take care of your bicycle to avoid bike chain gears slipping.

For example, don’t ignore a noise that’s been consistent. Many bikes have squeaky noises but if there’s even a slight amount of noise that doesn’t stop, check it. Is it only during pedaling, which part of the bike is making that noise, trace the problem and find the source

How to Remove Rust from Bike

Also, dry your bike after riding in the rain. While most newer carbon frames will not rust, the problem is water getting into the other parts of your bike – chain for example. It might corrode it or sometimes mess with the fresh coat of oil on your chain, or it can corrode and deform your freehub, which is one of the causes for gear slipping. Put the bike upside down in a dry place, and you’re alright.

Additionally, the dirt can also deal damage to your bike. Riding in the mud or anything that can solidify after a certain time period can also wear down certain parts of your bike. Again, the chain is what you have to worry about. The chain moves through the cog teeth and the derailleur, and if there is something out of the ordinary, a nugget of dried mud or even a little pebble, it can undoubtedly do damage over time, so clean the bike thoroughly!

The rule of thumb here is taking good care of the bike and you will have no problems. So remember to check the status of the chain, clean and oil up the chain, check the derailleurs alignments and health, see if the tension is adequate in the shifter cable, and check the freehub shell.

These are just some of the important things to watch out for if you encounter gear slipping. While it still might happen from time to time, it is important to do every necessary step to make the problem occur as rarely as possible.


Riding a bike is therapeutic but it does sometimes make you lose hair due to some problems that might arise. Gear slipping is not a huge problem but it does happen from time to time, affecting almost all bikers.

However, the problem is easily avoidable with the daily care of your bike and simply tending to it after riding. We covered some of the important causes of gears slipping, and some of the solutions, so we hope you will not be dissuaded from riding and will not be discouraged when you notice that the bike gear is slipping.


How to adjust bike gears slipping? How to fix bike gears from slipping?

When it happens, you can try adjusting the chain back into the gear. That will help you continue your ride but if it continues, it would be for the best to have a professional look at your bike, as a component might have been damaged. Aside from buying or maintaining the chain or any other component, fixing is not advisable if you aren’t knowledgeable about bicycles.

Why are my gears slipping on my bike and why does the bike keeps slipping gears?

Although rarely, some bike parts can be damaged during the shipment, that might be one of the causes. Also, some models aren’t built for rough riding, there might be a chance that you haven’t bought the right bike for your needs, so the gears take too much beating from the riding and the chain keeps slipping.

Patrick Flinch

Patrick Flinch is a professional cyclist, according to him, cycling is a sport that also helps people stay in good shape. Cycling takes many forms, and styles and so does the cycling equipment, however, this information is not available to everyone and that is why Patrick thought it wise to consolidate the most important information about cycling on “For the Bike Magazine.” Beginner, intermediate and professional cyclists will be furnished with useful insights. They will be able to understand the differences and benefits of both online and physical cycling. Apart from Cycling, Patrick is a family man, he is passionate about cycling and when not on duty, he loves to enjoy biking with his crew.