Why Is My MTB Chain Slipping? (Beginners Guide)

MTB Chain Slipping

A bike chain links your pedals to your back wheel and propels you down the road.

The manufacturers designed it to be strong yet light enough not to weigh you too much when pedaling uphill or against headwinds.

If you have difficulty keeping your bike chain from slipping, it’s time to fix the problem before it worsens. 

It’s common to get your chain stuck while pedaling down a trail. It may be easy or hard to get stuck, depending on what kind of trail you’re on, how steep it is, and how much mud there is.

This guide will walk you through three of the most common reasons MTB chains slip and how to fix them on your own.

The stretching of the cables, which leads to their becoming loose, causes a skipping chain. The new shifting cables significantly stretch during the first few rides. After some time, the cables extend well beyond their original limits, which causes the problem: your chain begins to slip between the gears.

The Causes of My MTB Chain Slipping and Their Fixes

MTB Chain Slipping

There are many reasons why your chain might be slipping, but some are more common than others.

Here are some reasons your MTB chain keeps slipping;

#1. Worn-Down Chain

A common reason for a bike chain slipping is skipping over teeth on your rear cogs. It may be due to a worn-down chain, or perhaps there is not enough oil in your drivetrain.

But here is how to fix your bike chain slipping due to a worn-down chain. 

If your bike chain is skipping over cogs, you’ll need to adjust it.

To fix a slipping chain skipping over teeth on your rear cog, move your front derailleur into a small ring and shift up one cog on your rear.

It will allow more room for movement in your drivetrain, meaning less resistance and causing less of a chance of a bike chain slip. Make sure you lube all the moving parts before riding again.

#2. Rear Derailleur

Another cause of a bike chain slipping is the rear derailleur itself. Skipping can also be caused by stretching your bike’s rear derailleur out of alignment.

If you’re experiencing a lot of resistance when shifting into gears, it may be time to replace your rear derailleur.

You can adjust your rear derailleur by adjusting your rear derailleur to the proper position using the tools. Ensure you know how the tools work before adjusting the rear derailleur.

#3. Loose Pedals

Another cause of a slipping chain is loose pedals. It can ruin your ride and increase fatigue in your knees and back.

If you notice that your pedal is loose, tighten it before continuing with your ride. It may be a good idea if you’re having trouble pedaling up hills.

Because climbing requires more power and effort, a damaged chain can slip off your gears and cause your legs to stop pushing against the pedals.

Ensure your chain is in good shape before heading for that long ride!

#4. The Buildup of Dirt and Debris

Dirt and debris buildup can cause your chain to slip. It is often a result of improper cleaning.

If you keep your bike clean and in good working order, it’s less likely that dirt will get into places where it doesn’t belong.

When dust, dirt, or other small particles get stuck between moving parts of your bike, they can cause issues like slipping bike chains!

#5. Chain Length

The length of your chain can result in the chain slipping gear. When the new chain is overly lengthy, it might cause the gears to slip and drop between their respective positions.

If the chain is very short, it can stress the rear derailleur, which could lead to its damage.

To fix your chain length to correct your slipping bike chain, you should note that with time, bike chains stretch as you use them.

So remember that the older chain should be a little longer to compensate for all the stretching over time.

When using a new chain, hold the new one up against the old one, cutting it down to the same length as the old one.

It is the most straightforward and accurate approach to determining the appropriate measurement for your new bike chain.

#6. Excessive Lubrication

An excessive amount of lubrication will prevent the teeth of the sprocket from making contact with the chain, resulting in the bike chain slipping.

Due to this, the sprockets and chainrings get very sloppy, which prevents the chain from properly gripping them.

In addition, excess lubrication of the chainrings and chain will cause them to absorb excess dirt and dust, which will shorten the lifespan of both components.

To fix the problem of the bike chain slipping due to excessive lubrication, you should give the chain and the whole drivetrain a good cleaning.

When re-greasing, you should apply a small amount of lubricant.

#7. Cassette (The Gear Cluster)

A slipping bike chain could be your cassette’s (the gear cluster’s) cause. To fix this problem, you need to clean the cassette; if that doesn’t work, it may be worth replacing it altogether. 

After removing the cassette from the wheel, please place it in a bowl filled with degreaser and ensure that you immerse the cassette in the solution. Just give it a few minutes to settle.

After immersion, use the toothbrush to clean the sprockets until they are dry. Remember to re-oil it before you put it back.

#8. Lubrication

Another thing that causes bike chain slipping is lubrication. Many cyclists over-tighten their chains to avoid frequent wear and tear, but as a result, they squeeze out all of their lube.

Therefore, you should ensure you lubricate your chain thoroughly before putting it back on your bike. 

You can fix this problem of your bike chain slipping by putting in fresh lube before riding again.

In addition, you can check if your chain is sufficiently lubricated by simply running your fingers across it—if it feels dry and gritty, then you know it needs more lubrication.

Fortunately, slipping bike chains is a relatively easy problem to solve. If you can identify the cause and follow these steps, you should be able to get your chain working smoothly again in no time.


There are various reasons your MTB has a slipping bike chain, like a worn-down chain or a misaligned rear derailleur.

The good thing is that you can quickly correct them by following the article’s steps. If the problem persists, consult a local bike shop for help.

Josh Matthews

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