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When I start to pedal, say up hill or have to move quickly, my pedals slip and I can't get any movement except for a really bad slip. When I'm on a flat straightaway and have to pedal I hear an awful clanking.

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Note that one would not expect this problem to be due to a worn chain/cogs unless you have something close to 10,000 miles on the bike, 5000 at the earliest. (Though certainly a chain should be replaced about every 2000 miles.) If you're well below that figure then the far more likely cause of slipping is either a very poorly adjusted derailer or a bad freewheel/freehub. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 24 '13 at 14:22

3 Answers 3

There could be several possible reasons for this behaviour -

  • Derailleur could be out of adjustment - can be fixed by barrel adjuster/adjusting the tautness of the shifter cable. You can shift into a cog in the middle of range and visually inspect if derailleur is in line vertically under the cog that chain rests on. When derailleur is properly adjusted, one should be able to spin the pedals backwards freely without the derailleur arm getting stretched/extended.
  • Your chain could be stretched and/or rear cogs worn. Use chain wear indicator tool to see if chain is stretched and visual inspection should indicate wear on the cogs. Worn out cogs may look sharp and pointy/ like a shark fin.
  • If you replace the cogs, make sure to replace the chain as well. This helps avoiding undue cog wear due to stretched chain.
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My derailer is broken.and I did a quick visual and noticed my chain is stretched. Any quick fix till I can come up with funds? Thank you for your feedback –  steven Freilinger Nov 18 '13 at 18:39
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@stevenFreilinger There may be quick fixes if you get clever about it. Unfortunately none will be safe. If the derailleur is broken and you can't fix it. Then make it so it is fixed speed, set it up so that the derailleur does not affect your ride in any way, this means no changing gears and possibly no ability to change gears. As for the chain, you should not trust it at all. If it is worn and is visually stretching/bending it needs to be replaced asap. –  Josh C Nov 19 '13 at 15:39
    
It would help attract more answers if you could post a picture of your broken derailer. I am not aware of any quick fixes to ride with stretched chain. I would avoid riding until chain is replaced to avoid damage to cogs and chain rings. –  Akshay Nov 19 '13 at 15:39
    
Thank you all for your input –  steven Freilinger Nov 19 '13 at 16:02
    
What do you mean by derailleur is broken? –  Batman Nov 24 '13 at 16:42

It could be that your derailleur is not aligned properly (ie it has got been or pushed out of straight in storage or when dropped put away)

Best way to tell is to move it onto middle cog of cassette and see if the cage with the 2 jockey wheels is straight down, if not then the hanger or derailleur itself is bent and no manner of fiddling with cables will sort it.

You can find a number of videos on the net on how to align the derailleur hanger aka dropout.

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Your chain is stretched. You will have to replace it. Because your chain is stretch it no longer fits the teeth of your freewheel/cassette. But also due to that stretching, you have likely wore out that freewheel/cassette. It will also need to be replace. Expect to play $80-$100 with parts and labor.

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