Bike Chain Falls Off Single Speed: (Why!) – Bicycles In Motion

Bike Chain Falls Off Single Speed: (Why!)

Bike Chain Falls Off Single Speed

A bike chain that originally fit securely becomes looser over time eventually falling off your bike. Unfortunately, this can mean you need to replace the chain or even the sprockets, but at least those are quick repairs.

There are a handful of other reasons why a bike chain might fall off as well. Why does the bike chain fall off your single-speed?

Your bike chain falls off your single speed because it is worn and has stretched out over time. The forces that pull against the chain slowly separate the links a little at a time. Additionally, the rubbing of the metal chain on metal sprockets wears away tiny pieces every revolution.

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Why Does My Bike Chain Keep Coming Off Single Speed

Your bike chain keeps coming off your single-speed bike because it needs to be replaced.

Whether stretched, worn, or broken, you will need to replace the chain with a new one in the same size and style.

Make sure you pay close attention to the old and new chains to get the right fit. It’s completely acceptable to bring in your old chain to match the size and type exactly.

Bike Chain Falls Off When Pedaling Hard

Sometimes it seems like your chain only comes off when you’re pedaling hard. This happens with multi-speed bikes. Luckily there’s a straightforward and fast way to reset it.

As Bike Hike explains, “…a skipping chain is caused by cable stretch. Your shift cables stretch the most in the first half dozen rides on a new bike. To fix a skip in the rear derailleur, shift your chain into the smallest ring on your rear cassette (the hardest gear) and the middle or larger ring on your front derailleur.”

Bike Chain Keeps Falling Off Front

A bike chain falls off the front because there’s nothing there to prevent it from doing so.

Your old, worn, stretched, or wrong-sized chain is coming off the front because that’s where it’s skipping, and since it’s not a multi-speed bike, there’s no derailleur and cassette to adjust.

Your only options are replacing worn parts, shortening your chain, or getting a new, properly fitting chain.

I recommend cleaning and inspecting the chain and other problem parts to see if it’s wear and tear.

In some instances, this might also result from a bent sprocket tooth or bike chain link instead, but the solution is the same for a broken part as a worn one. Always replace damaged parts promptly.

Bike Chain Falls Off Beach Cruiser

A beach cruiser is subject to the same problems as other single-speed bikes, with one notable exception.

This style of bike is often found on or near the beach, and that means lots of sand. The tiny particles get everywhere, including the grease in your bike chain.

If enough sand builds up, it can cause chain skipping. Resultantly, a good cleaning may solve your bike chain issue.

Kid Bike Chain Keeps Falling Off

Kids are rough on their bikes. When a kid’s bike chain keeps falling off, you may be looking at an axle alignment issue.

Regrettably, this may mean a pro repair or a new wheel for the bike are the only solutions.

Livestrong says, “Rear wheel alignments for bikes can be tricky since it involves the tension of the spokes. In a wheel with perfect alignment, all the spokes have the exact tension. If your tire wobbles when your bike is in motion or if just a small section of your wheel hits a brake pad, you will need to have your tire fixed by a professional at a bike shop.”

How To Stop My Bike Chain From Falling Off

When your bike chain falls off repeatedly, there are two possibilities. Either the chain needs replacing, or something else about your bike’s drive chain has changed.

If it’s the former, you should change the chain for a new one that fits. Otherwise, if you’ve swapped out another part, you may need a different part, a different chain, or to remove links from your existing chain.

How To Put A Bike Chain Back On Single Speed

As frustrating as it is to have your chain fall off, they are still easy to put back in place. With a handful of tools and the correct information, anyone can accomplish this in just a few minutes.

Below I’ve detailed the process to putting a bike chain back on a single speed bike and provided a list of the necessary tools.


You can get the necessary tools for bike repair at any bike shop, online, or big box stores like Target and Walmart. You’ll even find bike tools at hardware stores. To repair your chain, you will need four things.

  • Chain Tool
  • 15 mm Box End or Paw 12 Adjustable Wrench
  • Needle Nose or Master Link Pliers
  • Torque Wrench

How To Put The Bike Chain Back On Step By Step

Now that you have the tools, you can easily DIY your bike chain. Follow the steps I’ve outlined below, and you’ll be riding again in no time.

Even if you’ve never fixed anything in your life, putting a bike chain on is something anyone can learn.

  1. Ensure that you have the correct chain. A single-speed bike needs a One Speed chain, sometimes known as a 1/8 Inch Chain.
  2. Set your bike in a stand or flip it upside down. Doing this will make it easier and more secure to work on and prevent you from relying on the kickstand to hold it in place.
  3. Relieve tension on the chain by loosening the axle nuts.
  4. Locate the master link on your chain. Once you’ve found the unique, different-looking link, you can use the needle-nosed pliers to remove the clip that holds it in place. Some chains use different styles. You may need the Master Link MLP-1.2 pliers instead. Either way, the chain is easy to remove once the link is out of the way. Finally, some chains have a connecting rivet that looks different, and in that case, you use the chain tool to push out the center of a different (not the unique one) rivet nearby to open the chain up.
  5. Remove the old chain.
  6. Wrap the new appropriately sized chain around the sprockets and connect your master link. There should be a little give but not too much looseness in the new chain.

Get More Help Repairing A Fallen Bike Chain

If you want to see the process step by step, I recommend the video below from Park Tool. They cover sizing, installation, and setting the tension on a two-sprocket single-speed bike.

Watching the process can help clear up confusion, especially if you’re new to bike repair and don’t know all the terminology.

Helpful Tips To Know About Why Bike Chain Falls Off Single Speed

When a bike chain falls off, it’s almost always a sign that you need a new bike chain. Otherwise, it could indicate that you need to remove a link or replace a different part like a sprocket.

Here are more helpful tips to know about why the bike chain falls off a single speed.

  • Keeping your chain clean and oiled will help prevent all sorts of problems. Although proper maintenance doesn’t stop wear, it will slow down the process, which means less fallen chains and fewer changes for you.
  • A broken master link or master rivet can cause your chain to fall. However, this type of falling often means that the chain opens rather than merely slipping off while still maintaining all of its connections.
  • On rare occasions, a small pebble lodged in one spot can cause a link to skip off the sprocket dislodging the whole chain. While this is pretty uncommon, you should carefully inspect a chain that becomes dislodged to see what happened.

Final Thoughts

When the bike chain falls off your single-speed bike, you need a new chain. The looseness can be caused by an improperly sized chain, bad master link, dirt, wear, or stretching, but it almost always signals that you need to get rid of the old chain.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of technical knowledge or mechanical skill to swap out a bad bike chain. With a few tools, you can fix it at home in minutes.

Brian Smith

Brian is the founder of Bicycles In Motion and an avid cyclist for 17 years. On the weekends, he enjoys exploring new bike trails and countryside roads to enjoy the outdoors.

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