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While pedalling, every 10 seconds or so, the chain on my bike makes the sound it makes during a gear shift - it "clicks", as if it's clicking into place in the new gear. But there is no gear shift going on - it just skips periodically as I pedal.

It feels as if I briefly lose control, so I'd like to fix this before the problem gets worse. What could be causing this?

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Your chain / rear cogs / chainrings may be worn. If they are not worn, check your derailleur adjustments. Less likely is a worn BB or loose crank arms. – Batman Jan 11 '14 at 18:01 is a decent look at the wear and tear (though it assumes you're running a freehub, not a freewheel), though you can use a ruler rather than a chain gauge. If they are worn, its a quick replacement at your LBS (you can combine this with a quick adjustment), though if you want to do it at home, you will need some tools (cassette/freewheel remover, chain whip, chain breaker, large wrench, grease). – Batman Jan 11 '14 at 18:12
The first thing to do is to make sure that the derailers are properly adjusted. Beyond that a worn chain or cog. If you don't know much about bikes, go to a local bike shop and ask if you can watch while they check out the bike. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 11 '14 at 20:56
Its quite easy to knock a derailleur out of alignment/bend it in a small crash. – Batman Jan 11 '14 at 21:07
You need to come up with a more meaningful description of what happens. Where does the sound come from? Chainrings or cogs? What does "skip" mean? Does it skip gears laterally or does it skip teeth lengthwise? If it skips lengthwise, you should feel that your pedals skip too. Do you feel it or not? – AnT Jan 14 '14 at 20:53

Since this occurs every 10 seconds, this leads to believe that you have a frozen link in your chain or a defective link in your chain.

If it were a cable or dérailleur adjustment, it would occur all the time while pedalling. The pause leads me to think that the chain is fine when continuing around the big sprockets in the front, but when it gets to the cassette and dérailleur, the size of the cogs and the angle at which the chain is being bent causes the stiff link to manifest itself.

As something you can fix at home (in the event of a stiff link), lube the chain with any bicycle lube.

If that doesn't help it, you probably have a defective link and the bicycle should be brought to the local bike shop.

Best of luck!

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Does it happen in all gears? Or in just some of them? When I had this problem it was due to chainring wear (check if the cogs are flat on the top, or worn sharp - if they're sharp, the chain can slip from them.) If that's the case, you'll have to replace the chainrings - a bike shop will advise. If they're not worn, try degreasing then oiling the chain.

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