Why Does Bike Chain Keep Popping?

I often rush to work on my bike as a chronically late person. I usually make it on time, except for when my bike decides to pop off the socket, making the chain less effective. And because I can’t afford any inconveniences on the road, I researched and got to the root of the problem.

Why do bike chains keep popping? I’ve narrowed it down to four main reasons. Firstly, the bike gears could be tuned incorrectly. Secondly, the derailleur hanger might be damaged. Thirdly, the chain could be overstretched, and lastly, the bike might have worn sprockets or clogs.

Bike Chain with Cassette and derailleur with a scooter in the background

Bike Chain Keeps Popping – lets find the reasons and fixes for each

Let’s dig deeper into why the chain keeps skipping and slipping off the sprockets so you can troubleshoot your problem.

Incorrectly Tuned Gears

The chain will jump if the bike’s gears aren’t correctly aligned. Other signs your bike gears need tuning include squeaking sounds, difficulty shifting gears, and braking. Don’t forget to check for rust, which might also cause issues. Check this video below to tune the gears yourself, or take it to a bike shop for a tune-up.

Bent or Damaged Derailleur Hanger

The Derailleur refers to the gear-changing mechanism at the back of your bike. If derailleurs are not working correctly, it will cause the chain to fall off.

So, inspect your derailleur hanger for damage or bending. If that’s the problem, I’d recommend you take it to a shop; a quality bicycle mechanic will have the tools to fix it. They might need to degrease and dry the derailleur hanger or replace it with a new one.

Some bikes have a rear and front derailleur so check for both to make sure they are in good working condition.

Chainring with crankset and pedal and loose chain on a bike

Stretched Chain

Excessively stretched chains are a common reason for chain skipping and popping and chain coming off. With heavy use, bike chains get stretched (regardless of their build quality), which damages the cassette and chainrings teeth.

Eventually, the chain won’t engage properly with the sprockets and you have to pedal harder and harder. That usually happens after 20,000 to 30,000 miles, but it might even happen after just 5,000 to 10,000 miles. If the chain is loose, you’ll notice chain teeth skipping, chain lash, and jerkiness in the wheel movement due to uneven power transmission.

To further confirm that the chain is worn, you can turn the crank and inspect it. You want to kneel down, so your eyes are level with the chain. If it’s sagging around, your chains are stretched due to heavy use, and it’s time to replace them.

Stiff Links on the chain

Stiff Links can occur due to multiple reasons such as rust or an bad chain pin. this will cause the drivetrain to be very choppy as the chain is not adjusting the tooth of the chain ring or cassette properly. and eventually will lead to chain coming off.

Lubricating the chain should fix this issue most of the times.

Finishline brand dry bike lubricant

Worn Sprockets Cogs

If your chain has been worn for too long, you probably also have worn the tooth profile of cogs. Even if you change the chain, you’ll still have this problem. To explain, sprockets or cogs get worn out with use, which causes the engine to work harder and the suspension to be uncomfortable.

What you can do is check the cog. Is it aligned with the grouch arm? If not, you should take out the wheel from the ensnare. Then, position the crankset assembly correctly. Finally, place the wheel belt on the frame of reference, and secure the crankset bolts.

Frequently Aasked Questions

How Tight Should a Bike Chain Be?

A chain is tight enough if it lets you move up and down approximately an inch. Otherwise, you might need to loosen or replace it (if it’s stretched from use).

How Often Should I Lube My Bike Chain?

Don’t go a month without lubricating your bike’s chain. Instead of responding to issues, taking such proactive measures keeps your drivetrain in top condition. This is especially crucial since the chain is one of the bike’s dirtiest parts, which affects its longevity and performance.

How Much Should a Bike Chain Cost?

If your chain is beyond repair, you can buy a new one for anything from $10 to $90. An elementary chain will be close to the lower end, whereas a durable one for a road bike will cost $60 to $90.

How long do bike chains last?

A chain usually lasts 20 to 30k miles but sometimes it might need to be replaced much earlier depending on the how the bike is used.
Best way is to check the condition of the chain to determine when the chain should be replaced.

Final Words

Ultimately, I hope you were able to troubleshoot the problem with your bike chain so that you can adequately address it. One tip I’ll give you is to become proactive with your bike, lubricating and maintaining it regularly. Once I’ve prioritized that, my bike rarely gives me any unpleasant surprises or inconveniences on the road!