When I pedal while standing, the chain hops off to a smaller cog. This happens when I "tilt" the bike, as we do when stand-pedal. I am not really sure why this happens, but I think the chain is loose. Is the solution to get a new chain, or is there something I can do?

I lean against getting a new chain, since my current one is ugly and rusty (I have not maintained it very well over the winter!)

  • If your chain is ugly and rusted a new one won't hurt and may or may not remedy your problem, they make inexpensive tools to gauge chain stretch. I'm sure a shop would do it for free. How worn is the cassette? That would be another thing to check. Assuming the chain has stretched and become loose a replacement is about all you can do. You can't de-stretch a chain :)
    – Nate W
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:22
  • Not sure how to quantify the woreness of my cassette. I haven't until recently starting paying attention to my bike.
    – Yoda
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:24
  • The main indicator will be the shape of the teeth. If they have a square profile on the tip of the tooth rather than it being pointed like a spike then you're probably okay The valleys in between the teeth also get worn and wallowed out grooves. That is a broad generalization however. About how many miles are on the bike? Pictures of the components and more information would be helpful. And would improve the quality of answers you get.
    – Nate W
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:32
  • Also does it only happen when your standing? I.e does it only happen under a heavy load? Meaning your standing and really getting after it? Or does it skip while seated and slow pedaling as well?
    – Nate W
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:34
  • Roughly estimated, I have just over 500km on the bike (bought it last fall, used it to commute to university). No, it only happens when I stand, but not if I stand and force the bike to be level; it happens when I "wiggle" it, or tilt it during my pedalling. I have also noticed a "metal-against-metal" noise in the 1-1 gear (easiest possible).
    – Yoda
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


You've got a 'stretched' chain that needs to be replaced.

If the chain has been in this condition for some time, and I suspect it has, I always recommend replacing the cassette at the same time. The reason being that a worn chain wears down the cassette and a new, unworn chain, will fit the old worn cassette poorly and the skipping will continue. I had to learn this the hard way, with multiple trips to the bike shop.

As usual, Sheldon has already laid the issue out in depth: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#wear

  • And the longer its left, the more likely the chainrings will get worn too.
    – Criggie
    Apr 6, 2016 at 0:35
  • I replaced the chain with a KMC chain. I think I got the length right. The chain still hopps, though (and even though the indexing was fine with the bike upside down, it does not really work when I ride. Gearing up and nothing happens. Cable to tight?)
    – Yoda
    Apr 7, 2016 at 9:24
  • If new chain hops, need to replace cassete as well, as mentioned above. (Happened to me too, changed only chain, tried it outside and went to shop for cassete replacement )
    – gaurwraith
    Apr 7, 2016 at 22:00

Also check condition and if there is significant play in you bottom bracket. When standing, you put maximum pressure on the bottom bracket and maybe it is tilting, and moving position of chain.

If neither chain or BB replacement help, it might be that you are just u big person on gentle frame, and frame flexes under the load you are putting it under.

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