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  1. #1
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    bike chain skipping gears?

    sometimes, when I pedal, there'd be a sudden jolt. it feels as if the chain is skipping gears. This happens when I apply more force on the pedal. What is going on?

    I just had new chains because the old ones were stretched out. Could it be that the gears are worn out as well?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaganon View Post

    I just had new chains because the old ones were stretched out. Could it be that the gears are worn out as well?
    Very likely.

    New chains that skip under load on old cassettes are par for the course. The chains and sprockets wear together, so if your old chains were badly stretched (worn) it's likely the cassette, or at least it's most worn sprockets are also toast.

    As a guideline, if the old chain is stretched 1/2% (1/16" over 12") or less the cassette should be OK. Over 1% (1/8" over 12") the cassette is likely toast. Between those numbers it could go either way.
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    so is it likely that the cassette is the only one that needs replacement? what about the chain gear? is there a way to measure these things? And are there different kinds of cassettes, how do I find the right one?

    Also, is it recommended that I always buy cassettes and chain gears new? I assume you never suppose to buy used cassettes in case it has already gone to crap?

  4. #4
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    You have to do a bit of diagnosis by analyzing the specifics. The sprockets don't all wear at the same rate, with the ones used the most and smaller ones wearing faster. So keeping track of when it skips and when it doesn't you can get some good clues to the problem.

    If it skips on only certain cassette sprockets, then it's likely these sprockets. But if it skips on any cassette sprocket, bit only a certain chainring, then it's likely that chainring.

    Since it's a new chain you can also test for wear by using a small screwdriver to lift the chain away from a sprocket with a small pointed tool, like a screwdriver. Lift at the 1/2 way point of the wrap. Your new chain won't lift much on a (like) new sprocket, but with more wear will lift farther. If you can lift far enough to see 1/8" or more of daylight below the chain, the sprocket is suspect.
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    I have the same situation but everything is new? is this just an adjustment issue for me then?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnj2803 View Post
    I have the same situation but everything is new? is this just an adjustment issue for me then?
    There are two kinds (or more) of skipping with totally different causes. The OP's problem had to do with wear and presented as a chain that ran fine most of the time but tended to skip under higher loads.

    Your problem is probably related to the derailleur, where the chain isn't fed perfectly aligned to the sprocket and sometimes climbs onto the tops of the teeth, or maybe tries to shift to the next sprocket. It could be a minor cable adjustment, or it might be that your derailleur hanger is bent slightly.

    If the bike is new, let the LBS check it for you. If you prefer to DIY, search derailleur adjustment for some tutorials.
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    For old bikes, when you change the chain, should you also always change the cog set too? Mine is 34years old.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
    For old bikes, when you change the chain, should you also always change the cog set too? Mine is 34years old.
    Sprockets don't age in years, they age in miles. You sprocket could be 50 years old and in mint condition, or 1 year old and ridden until it was worn out.

    That said, a chain replaced because it was stretched or skipping on the cassette, probably means that the cassette also needs replacing, but it's not certain. Yhe only way to know for sure is to replace the hain and test ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Sprockets don't age in years, they age in miles. You sprocket could be 50 years old and in mint condition, or 1 year old and ridden until it was worn out.

    That said, a chain replaced because it was stretched or skipping on the cassette, probably means that the cassette also needs replacing, but it's not certain. Yhe only way to know for sure is to replace the hain and test ride.
    Yeah, we did that and the chain started to skipped gears when pressing on uphills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
    Yeah, we did that and the chain started to skipped gears when pressing on uphills.
    So you have your answer.
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  11. #11
    George Krpan
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    It probably needs a new cassette but try this first.

    Put some grease on the cable guide on the underside of the bottom bracket. Lube the cable housings. Adjust the stops of the derailleur.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yaganon View Post
    so is it likely that the cassette is the only one that needs replacement? (1)what about the chain gear? is there a way to measure these things? (2) And are there different kinds of cassettes, how do I find the right one?

    Also, (3) is it recommended that I always buy cassettes and chain gears new? I assume you never suppose to buy used cassettes in case it has already gone to crap?
    (1) Just the cassette most likely. Chainrings last MUCH longer than chains & cassettes.

    (2) You need to get a cassette that matches the brand (but not model) you have now, and the number of speeds. If you have a Shimano 10 speed system, you can use Shimano Tiagra through Dura-Ace. Sram cassettes also work with Shimano drivetrains. Most people go with the cheaper end unless you have money to burn. If you have Campagnolo, you need one of theirs. Give some details about your bike to get specific answers instead of my generalization.

    (3) Not always. If you replace your chain before it gets really worn out, then a new one should work with your existing cassette. You should get 2, and maybe 3 chains with the same cassette.
    Last edited by Homebrew01; 09-01-13 at 04:38 PM.
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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
    It probably needs a new cassette but try this first.

    Put some grease on the cable guide on the underside of the bottom bracket. Lube the cable housings. Adjust the stops of the derailleur.
    There was no indication that the derailleur is out of adjustment. Adjusting the stops is more likely to cause problems than solve them, unless the OP is specifically having trouble getting into the high or low gears.
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    Quote Originally Posted by yaganon View Post
    Also, is it recommended that I always buy cassettes and chain gears new?
    I assume you never suppose to buy used cassettes in case it has already gone to crap?
    Hi,

    Chain rings hardly ever need replacing, (except when they do), but those
    with upgradeitis swap out perfectly usuable chainrings and cranks for new.
    Some also change out the rear cassettes on relatively new bikes.

    Generally I'd assume most bikers would chuck any chainrings or cassettes
    replaced due to wear in the dustbin, rather than trying to mug someone.

    So generally I'd assume any used cranks or cassettes are OK, and
    the seller will generally give details as to why they are little used,
    or in the case of some chainrings / cranks how much actual use.

    Caveat emptor still applies, but IMO not really to most cases.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-01-13 at 05:05 PM.

  15. #15
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    Just today I put a new chain on prior to my ride. It skipped a few times early on, and I adjusted (loosened) the cable tension a few times also. My own theory is it takes a few miles for the new chain to break itself into the cassette cogs. I may be dead wrong, of course, but it's my experience nonetheless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
    Just today I put a new chain on prior to my ride. It skipped a few times early on, and I adjusted (loosened) the cable tension a few times also. My own theory is it takes a few miles for the new chain to break itself into the cassette cogs. I may be dead wrong, of course, but it's my experience nonetheless.
    Hi,

    A few miles might break in any stiff links but is not enough for a new chain to
    wear to match a worn cassette, which it will if the skipping is mild and you
    persevere with the worn cassette and new chain, the skipping will drop off.

    As said, a worn cassette will skip on the mainly used rings, but not the others.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-01-13 at 06:50 PM.

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    It did have a stiff link, initially.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
    "Get off of me and go ride your damn bike."

  18. #18
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    Have you ever put on a new chain and cassette only to find that it still skips? It's best to eliminate all the other potential causes beforehand. And, what's the big deal? Adjusting the stops takes a few minutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
    There was no indication that the derailleur is out of adjustment. Adjusting the stops is more likely to cause problems than solve them, unless the OP is specifically having trouble getting into the high or low gears.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
    Have you ever put on a new chain and cassette only to find that it still skips? It's best to eliminate all the other potential causes beforehand. And, what's the big deal? Adjusting the stops takes a few minutes.
    The stops adjust how far the derailleur can move at the extreme ends ... biggest and smallest cog. The stops will have no effect on fixing skipping due to chain and or cassette wear. Since only the chain was changed, there will be nothing to adjust, because the derailleur and cassette are still in the same position. After changing the cassette, there is a possibility the derailluer will need a tiny adjustment, if the new cassette sits at a slightly different spot on the freehub. In that case, cable tension will also need a slight adjustment to realign the derailleur with the cogs.
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  20. #20
    George Krpan
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    The derailleurs stops can come out of adjustment and when they do it can cause skipping. The pulleys will not be aligned with the cogs and the chain will be "teetering" on the cogs. When power is applied it can skip. It's best to check them whenever doing drivetrain work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
    The stops adjust how far the derailleur can move at the extreme ends ... biggest and smallest cog. The stops will have no effect on fixing skipping due to chain and or cassette wear. Since only the chain was changed, there will be nothing to adjust, because the derailleur and cassette are still in the same position. After changing the cassette, there is a possibility the derailluer will need a tiny adjustment, if the new cassette sits at a slightly different spot on the freehub. In that case, cable tension will also need a slight adjustment to realign the derailleur with the cogs.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
    The derailleurs stops can come out of adjustment and when they do it can cause skipping.

    Hi,

    It would then only skip on the smallest or largest or both cogs,
    and these are likely not the most used cogs. The limit stops
    will have no effect on skipping on all the other rear cogs.

    rgds, sreten.

  22. #22
    George Krpan
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    If the stops are off, it will affect all of the gears.

    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    It would then only skip on the smallest or largest or both cogs,
    and these are likely not the most used cogs. The limit stops
    will have no effect on skipping on all the other rear cogs.

    rgds, sreten.

  23. #23
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    Cassette AND Chainrings, Sometimes...

    I had a fellow contact me after his LBS told him that there were no parts to fix his 1990s Trek 520 3x7 skipping without building a new rear wheel and going to indexed bar ends. This after they replaced the chain and he experienced pronounced skip.

    I test rode it and it was cassette skipping, initially.

    You guessed it...Uniglide. I told him that we could replace the freehub body and the cassette with modern 7-speed stuff, and it would stop rear skip, but might not on the largest two chainrings which had a lot of miles on them. But the parts were only $50 for the rear, so we went for it. Shifts nicely, however the skip is now on the chainrings, but under heavier torque.

    I have replacement chainrings (half step, as he prefers it) on order. And the lessons are the same. High miles on drivetrain with no replacements = chain wear. High miles on worn chain = cog and chainring wear, too.

    The good news is that he'll have the bike back to original spec for significantly less than the LBS quoted for a 9-speed change over. PG
    Last edited by Phil_gretz; 09-03-13 at 09:52 AM. Reason: simplified

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
    If the stops are off, it will affect all of the gears.
    No, that is absolutely false. One could remove the limit screws completely and shift to every single cog correctly, including both the large and small. Once the cable adjustment is made on one cog the lever will move the derailleur the same amount to reach the other cogs. On indexed systems the stops are more a safety measure rather than an adjustment.

    Further, the limit screws would only affect skipping even on the large and small cogs if adjusted so as to prevent the derailleur from completely reaching the outer cogs.
    Last edited by cny-bikeman; 09-03-13 at 11:03 AM.
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
    If the stops are off, it will affect all of the gears.
    This is simply false.

    For those unfamiliar with what limits do, I like to compare it to parallel parking a car between two others. The limits are like those two cars which determine the amount of room you have to work with. You can stop your car anywhere between the two others. If either of those other cars move your car will still stay in place where you left it, unless one of the other cars moves far enough to push your car forward or back.
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