Why my Bike chain won’t go backwards

As a bike user, you’ll face many problems as a bike user due to your constant usage. It will require maintenance from time to time.

You’ll often face issues that are pretty difficult to identify but easy to resolve and vice versa. Such as if your bike chain is not going backwards.

My colleague met a lot of issues because his bike’s chain was not simply going backward. It came to the that he became frustrated because the general solutions were not working for him.

But, in the end, through multiple efforts, we did manage to make his bike chain go backwards smoothly.

Now let us discuss some of the reasons and solutions to this problem.

7 Reasons & Solutions Bike Chain won’t go Backward Issue

Why won’t your Bike chain go backwards

Before you start getting ready with all of your tools, you must first know the main reasons behind your bike chain not going backward. In most cases, your bike chain won’t pedal backwards due to a loose chain.

But in more complicated scenarios, it could be due to like lack of proper alignment, bent parts, or lack of grease. As we move on, we will discuss in-depth the many reasons and solutions for your bike chain not going backwards. 

1. Loose Chain

It is the most essential thing to solve and identify. A loose chain can cause inadequate tension in your bike while moving it in general, not just moving it backward. Your chain will most likely fall off or get stuck due to slacking.

You also won’t be able to draw enough speed on your bike since the connection isn’t tight enough. Also, it could be dangerous as your foot might get stuck as your trying to ride it hard. 

Steps to fix:

You need to add more tension to the chain and tighten the connection in accordance with your convenience. To get the proper tension, you might have to trial and error for a while. Also, make sure that you don’t tighten it too much. 

Check the rear tire has proper alignment with the chains.

2. Lack of Lube

Your bike won’t generate enough torque if your bike isn’t lubed or greased well from time to time. You will see that your chain is hard stuck since it has gotten any maintenance after riding so much on rough terrain.

Steps to fix: 

You are now supposed to get lubes based on the environment you ride in. There are two types of lubes, wet lube and dry lube. Wet lubes last longer under dirty muddy, cold conditions. Dry lubes are suitable for hot climate environments since they attract less dirt.

If you use a dry lube in cold, muddy conditions, it simply won’t last long. Now after you have gotten your lubes, put them on the chain under the jockey wheel or the cassette while keeping it moving. 

3. Dirt

Not cleaning your bike regularly will put it in a state where you’ll only feel frustrated to ride. You may notice loud stutters coming from the dirt while trying to move your chain backward. It is only if you apply force only then you can get it backwards.  

Steps to fix:

Since it’s dirt, so you obviously have to clean it. So you require cleaning water, a cleaning cloth, and a few other components. Firstly, just dip the rag into the cleaning water, then firmly hold the chain below.

Now start to move the chain. You will see a lot of dirt coming out. After that, try to brush the chain with a light degreaser. It is suggested not to use a heavy degreaser.

Lastly, get a multi brush and try to clean the cassette and other components around it to entirely lose the dirt. 

4. Deformed Chainwheel 

Bike chain won't go backwards

A bent chainwheel won’t let the chain go backward. Instead, it will confuse you in finding the main problem because chainwheel don’t usually get bent or deformed. If you are a regular cycle user, then you test your chainwheel by moving it backward.

A deformed chain wheel can happen due to riding in rugged terrain, which is not suitable for your bike or it could happen if your bike is dropped onto a hard surface. You must not depend on a deformed chainwheel, let alone try to move it backwards, as it could damage your cycle’s frame or tear the chains. 

Steps to fix:

You should take it into a maintenance shop and get it straightened. Chainewheel that are made with aluminum is relatively easy to fix. If nothing else works, I suggest you get it replaced as it’ll tear down your bike’s other components slowly. Also, make sure if it’s appropriately placed once replaced. 

5. Derailleur issue

If your bike is not aligned correctly with the derailleur, then your chains will wobble, get stuck, and slack. Just like the chainwheel problem it can also damage the cassette and frame of your bike.

A cycle has Derailleur on both of its wheels so you need to inspect carefully if the bolts are connected well and if the alignment is right not. An issue on the derailleur will most likely require you to either get a replacement or take it to the maintenance shop. 

6. Uneven chain links 

Bikes that have been ridden for a long time or bikes that have been unused for a long time have tendencies to show awkward links on its chains.

You will see a couple of links bent down or upwards due to lack of usage or lubing. When you try to move the chains, you will notice that the smooth movement isn’t there. And this could cause your chains to not move backwards. 

Steps to fix: 

You have to replace the links individually as some have torn and worn off due to rust. If you don’t replace the links, then one day, while riding, you will experience a crash because your chain has completely torn off. 

7. Cassette 

Just like the Deformed chainwheel as mentioned before, your cassette might also get bent due to riding on a rough terrain that is not suitable for your bike or dropping it on hard uneven surfaces. basically, ruin your chain’s smooth flow. It will make your riding experience bizarre.

It might also damage your chainwheel because of the constant stuttering of not getting enough power. The teeth on the cassette might get deformed and make your chain get stuck. The teeth’s deformity will ruin the chain’s smooth flow and evidently, you won’t be able to pull your chain backwards. 

Steps to fix:

You can DIY this or take it to a repair shop. If you wanna do it yourself, you must be responsible for it. You need a get a plier. I suggest the long nose ones because you can be more accurate with them. Carefully bent them back, and the chains should have the same flow of movement again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I first check if I notice my chain isn’t going backwards?

If you see that your chain doesn’t have enough tension and it is in a somewhat shaky state, then that should be your very first cue into understanding that your bike isn’t going backwards.

What will happen if I use a wet lube in a hot, humid environment?

Wet lube has more consistency and stickiness to it. If you happen to use it in dry conditions, then the chances are that more dirt will attract to it and make it lose the chain’s fluid feel a lot earlier than it is supposed to. Wet lubes are meant to use in cold conditions and dry ones for hot conditions, as I have mentioned above.

Why does the bike chain drop when pedaling backwards?

It is due to stiff chain links. If your bike chain has stiff links, then it evidently won’t have the smooth flow as before, and it will stager quite a lot. Eventually, when you will try to accelerate due to the stiffness, the bike chain might drop. 

Why does the chain slack when pedaling backwards?

Dirty hub, deformed jockey, or lack of lubing may be the reasons behind the chain slack when pedaling backward. Usually, it happens due to lack of lubing or if you use the wrong lube based on the conditions you live. 


So, by now, I believe you know the core reasons behind a bike chain not going backwards. Some are pretty complicated and easy to identify, but some are complicated to identify as well as complicated to fix.

If you thoroughly try the ways I have suggested to you then you surely won’t face many issues unless those things require a replacement. But, bear in mind that in some of the technical methods. It might be wiser for you to take it to a repair shop than do it all alone. 

I hope the next time you see a colleague or a friend unable to put their bike chain go backwards, you will know the steps I have shown you.

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