My bicycle chain falls off when I’m riding, what should i look at?
My bicycle chain falls off when I'm riding, what should i look at?


If your bicycle chain is falling off while you’re riding, it can be both frustrating and potentially dangerous. There are several potential reasons for this issue, and it’s important to diagnose and fix it to ensure a safe and smooth ride. Here are some things you should look at:

  1. Front Derailleur Adjustment:
    If the chain is falling off the front chainring (crankset), the front derailleur might be misaligned or improperly adjusted. Check if the derailleur is positioned so that there’s a small gap (1-2mm) between the outer cage and the chain when on the largest chainring. Also, ensure the derailleur is parallel to the chainrings.
  2. Chainring Wear:
    If your chainrings are worn, the teeth might not be holding the chain securely. Inspect the chainrings for signs of wear, such as hooked or pointed teeth. If they’re worn, consider replacing them.
  3. Chain Tension:
    Insufficient chain tension can cause the chain to fall off. Make sure your rear derailleur is properly adjusted and that the chain is not too loose. It should have a slight amount of tension, but not overly tight.
  4. Rear Derailleur Adjustment:
    If the chain is falling off the rear cassette, the rear derailleur might be misaligned or improperly adjusted. Check the derailleur’s alignment and indexing. Make sure it’s shifting smoothly and not pushing the chain off the cassette.
  5. Cassette Wear:
    Worn cassette teeth can also cause chain dropping. If the cassette teeth have become pointy or shark-tooth shaped, the chain might not engage properly. If you notice significant wear, consider replacing the cassette.
  6. Chain Wear:
    A stretched or worn chain can easily come off the chainrings or cassette. Use a chain wear gauge to check if your chain needs replacement. A worn chain can also lead to accelerated wear on other drivetrain components.
  7. Check Chain Length:
    If the chain is too long, it can lead to slack and cause the chain to come off. Follow proper guidelines for chain sizing and installation. A chain that’s too short can also cause shifting issues.
  8. Bent or Misaligned Derailleur Hanger:
    A bent derailleur hanger can affect shifting and chain stability. Check if the derailleur hanger is straight and properly aligned.
  9. Inspect Chainline:
    An improper chainline can contribute to chain dropping. Make sure your chainrings and cassette are aligned properly.
  10. Consider Narrow-Wide Chainrings:
    If your bike has a single chainring setup, consider using a narrow-wide chainring. These chainrings have alternating tooth sizes that help prevent the chain from coming off.
  11. Pedal Stroke Smoothness:
    Pedaling technique can play a role. If you’re shifting under high load or pedaling with uneven pressure, it can contribute to chain dropping. Focus on smooth pedal strokes while shifting.
  12. Seek Professional Help:
    If you’re unable to identify or fix the issue yourself, it’s recommended to take your bike to a professional bike mechanic. They can perform a thorough inspection and make necessary adjustments or replacements.

Remember that your chain is a critical component for smooth and safe riding. Regular maintenance, proper adjustment, and timely replacements can help prevent chain-related issues.

Feature Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay


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