How To Fix A Bike Chain That Keeps Falling Off?

how to fix a bike chain that keeps falling off

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If you own a bike, one of the common challenges you would experience is your chain falling off. When a bike’s chain starts to fall off frequently, it can get quite frustrating. This is why you need to know how to fix a bike chain. 

The process to fix a bike chain depends on what’s causing the chain to fall off. It is important to understand the bike’s setup and check out possible reasons why it keeps happening.

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In this article, we cover the basics of how to fix a bike chain that keeps falling off. You would also learn some basic maintenance practices for your bike. Before we learn why a bike chain falls off, we first need to learn how it works. 

How Does a Chain Work?

Bike chains are roller chains that help propel power from pedals to the drive wheel. They comprise multiple pairs of outer and inner plates and are usually made from steel or carbon. However, some chains are also coated with nickel to help prevent rust or improve the chain’s aesthetic appeal.

Every link in the chain is held together by a peg or steel pin. The pins are pushed in and out with a chain tool or hammers and pliers in fixing chains. This method allows you to attach and remove links easily.

For bikes with derailleurs, the chains come with extra links. This allows you to remove a few of these links when fixing chains. Single-speed bikes, on the other hand, might not allow removing extra links. Fixing these chains would require getting extra links. 

how to fix a bike chain

What Do I Need to Fix the Bike Chain That Keeps Failing?

There are several reasons why a bike chain keeps falling off. These reasons range from loose chains, too long chains, worn-out chain parts, inaccurate lower or front derailleur, etc. To fix it when your chain keeps coming off bike, it is important to know what is causing the chain to fall off. 

For most kinds of chain issues, a chain tool is important to remove and add links. This is a specific bike tool that you can use when your bike chain keeps coming off. Pliers and hammers can also be used for this but the chain tool makes the process easier. 

How to Fix a Bike Chain That Keeps Falling Off?

If the chain keeps falling off bike frequently, there’s a high chance that some setup may have to change. The first thing to do is ensure that the drivetrain bolts are well tightened. Apart from this, you should also check to ensure that everything else is in place. Once you have confirmed this, you can then go on to fix the chain. 

Step 1: Positioning the Bike:

Before you get to work on how to fix a bike chain that keeps coming off, you should turn the bike upside down or hang it from a stand. This makes the process of fixing easy and convenient. The bike should rest on its handlebars and seat. However, it’s alright if you cannot hang it from a stand; you have to find an alternative way to keep the bike steady while working on the chain. 

Step 2: Checking the Gear:

Once the bike is positioned in a steady and secure place, to get slack on the chain, move the arm of the rear derailleur towards the handlebars and slide the chain back on the right gear with the other hand. With your fingers, you can drape the bike chain on the right gear and move the other end of the chain to the front side of the front gear. 

In doing this, you should ensure that it is loose enough to get around 15 teeth on the gear into the chain’s groove. Once the teeth are in place, you can go ahead to release the derailleur slowly. After this, you need to pedal backwards slowly with your hands to get a full rotation. Once the first backward rotation has been achieved, you can pedal the bike forward about three times. This would help keep the chain securely in place.  

Step 3: Caring for the Drivetrain:

The drivetrain is the bike’s main transmission. Drivetrains are responsible for the movement of the back wheel. The drivetrain consists of chain rings, a rear derailleur, a cassette, and the chain. It wears out over time, making the chin fall as it accumulates grime, dirt and grit. 

Ensuring proper and consistent cleaning and maintenance practices of the drivetrain can help improve the overall lifespan of the bike. A bicycle brush can be used when cleaning the gears. If you can’t get a bicycle brush, an old toothbrush is another alternative that works.

Grime on the derailleur and chain rings should be wiped as soon as they are spotted. Chain cleaners can be used if the grime on the chains is heavier. 

Step 4: Cleaning the Drivetrain

If you want to do a quick clean, you need a rag and a chain lube. All you need to do is wrap the chain with a lint-free clean cloth and backpedal the drivetrain to remove the external muck. Repeat this process till the rag is mostly clean after pedaling. You can also clean the chain rings and derailleur wheels with the rag. Once the chain is clean, you can re-apply lubricant. 

Some bike owners go through this cleaning process after every ride. A more elaborate cleaning process involves the use of a degreaser and water. This is more intricate and might require taking off the chain and using a chain brush in the cleaning process. This can be done routinely and does not need to be as frequent. 

Professionals often handle this most intricate form of cleaning as it requires a lot of tools and solvents. The process is also highly meticulous and takes time. At the end of the process, your bike would be looking as good as new.

It is important to ensure that you lubricate the bike after every cleaning process. 

Step 5: Changing the Links:

If you’ve done all the above basic on how to fix a bike chain then you may need to remove stretched or broken chain links. It may also be that the chain has too much slack and therefore needs to be shortened.

Doing this with the right chain tool is very easy. It will clamp onto your chain and push the internal pin out. You can then remove however many links you need and then the same tool will be able to force the pin back into place. 

bike chain falls off

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does my bike chain keep falling off?

In most instances, when it comes to how to fix bike chain that keeps falling off, it is due to an issue with the adjustment of the drivetrain components or with the chain itself. If you have been riding your bike for a while, your bike chain can get stretched, damaging both the cassette teeth and chain rings. Once this damage occurs, the chain loses good mechanical contact causing it to keep falling out.

The common reasons why bike chains fall out include; incompatible drivetrain parts, worn cog teeth, stretched chain, bad derailleur adjustment. 

How do you fix a chain that keeps slipping?

The answer to this question will depend on why the chain is slipping in the first place. If you follow the steps above, then you’ll soon find a solution to your problem. Make sure the chain is tight and you shouldn’t have any more slipping issues. 

Why does my chain keep getting loose?

There are several reasons why a bike chain keeps getting loose. The most common reasons include stretched chains, wrong size chains, incompatible drivetrain components, worn cog teeth. Bad derailleur adjustment etc. In some instances, it can also be caused by tensioning bolts not being tight enough.

What happens if a bike chain is loose?

A loose chain can easily skip over the tooth of sprockets of your bike. This would eventually lead to skipping over of teeth causing uneven transmission in the mechanical system of the bike. The notable implication of this is that there would be an uneven oscillation during movement when riding the bike. 

Is riding with a loose chain bad?

Riding a bike with a loose chain is very risky. Irrespective of how carefully and slowly you ride the bike. A bike with a loose chain poses a high risk as you will most likely have random jerks from the bike due to the uneven transmission. This can also lead to the chain getting stuck in other components which can immediate block the pedals or back wheels. 


Hopefully by now you have a clear idea of how to fix a bike chain. Most solutions are very simple and can either be solved by proper maintenance or adjusting your bike with the tools you have at home. If you need to remove or add links, then get a chain tool. They are quite cheap and will make your life a whole lot easier.

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