Bike Won’t Pedal Forward?

A close up of a mountain bike chainring.

Common Reasons for Bike Not Pedaling Forward

There’s no denying the fact; a bike that does not pedal forward can leave you stumped and incredibly frustrated. You’ve done a quick check, and everything appears normal. So, what could be the problem, and how can you fix it? Here are a couple of reasons that could be causing this issue.

1. Chain Related Issues

A bike chain is one of the most crucial components of your bike. It transfers the energy from your pedaling to the wheels, making your bike move forward. But when it’s not working correctly, your bike could refuse to pedal forward.

Here are a few chain-related issues:

 1. A Broken Chain: Bike chains are usually strong and durable, but they can sometimes break. If you can’t pedal forward, consider giving your chain a closer look to see if it’s broken or missing links.

2. Loose Chain: A chain that is too loose might not grip the gear teeth properly, preventing you from pedaling forward. Tightening the tension could fix this issue. You can also use a chain wear checker tool to ensure your chain is still in good condition.

2. Gear Mechanism Problems

Bike gears can be a bit complicated. However, understanding the basic mechanism can help you solve common issues that might prevent the bike from pedaling forward.

1. Gear Shifting Glitches: If your bike gears are not shifting smoothly, there might be an issue with the derailleur, the device that moves your chain from one gear to another. Ensure it’s correctly positioned and functioning.

2. Worn-out Gear Teeth: Observe the gear teeth. Have they worn out with time and use? If yes, they may not be gripping the chain properly, leading to a situation where you are unable to pedal forward.

Keep in mind that bike troubles like these can increasingly become dangerous if ignored. Therefore, make it a habit to check and maintain the essential parts of your bike frequently. That way, your bike will be in great shape, and you will have many safe and enjoyable rides. 

Chain Related Issues

A bearded man is working on a bicycle.

Encountering issues with your bike’s chain can be a complete mood spoiler, especially when you’re all set for a refreshing ride. But don’t worry, these problems are usually simple to fix once diagnosed correctly. The issues broadly fall into two categories: a loose or slipped chain and a damaged or broken chain.

1. Loose or Slipped Chain

Struggling to pedal forward? You might be dealing with a loose or slipped chain. Your chain might loosen due to extensive use or after a stumble. Here’s what you can do:

Inspect the chain: First up, inspect your chain visually. You’ll likely find it dangling, not sitting properly on the chainring or cassette.

Put it back on: Wearing gloves to avoid dirty hands, gently move the derailleur towards the rear wheel and place the chain back onto the chainring. Make sure it fits snugly on both the chainring and the cassette.

Maintain tension: On completion, spin your pedals backward to ensure the chain is secure and maintains tension. You should now be able to pedal forward without any hitches.

2. Damaged or Broken Chain

If your chain is not loose or hasn’t slipped, but you’re still unable to pedal forward, it might be damaged or broken. Here are your next steps:

Look for damages: Thoroughly inspect your chain for any visible damage such as bent, missing, or stuck links.

Repair or replace: Depending on the severity of damage, you might need to repair or replace portions of the chain. While some damages can be repaired using a chain tool at home, others might require professional help, or even a complete chain replacement.

Remember, a well-functioning chain is integral to enjoyable and safe cycling. Regular maintenance and immediate attention to any issues can go a long way in ensuring smooth and worry-free rides.

So the next time your bike isn’t pedaling forward, do check your chain. It will not only help you solve the issue at hand but also improve your overall biking knowledge and skills!

Gear Mechanism Problems

A man fixing a bicycle wheel in a workshop.

If you’ve found yourself with a bike that won’t pedal forward, you could have a few gear mechanism issues to address. But don’t worry, diagnosing and fixing these problems can be straightforward if you know what to look for. The heart of the matter often involves misaligned gears or worn out or faulty gear components.

1. Misaligned Gears

Imagine this: you’re all geared up, sunglasses on, and ready for a nice, long ride, but as soon as you push off, you encounter a problem. Your bike just isn’t pedaling forward as it should! The culprit could be misaligned gears.

Your bike gears function best when they’re in alignment. When these become misaligned, your bike might struggle to pedal forward or possibly not pedal at all. To adjust these gears, look for the derailleur, a component near the back wheel that helps shift the bike’s chain from one gear to another. This is your starting point for alignment.

2. Worn Out or Faulty Gear Components

Now let’s say you’ve checked for misaligned gears, but everything seems in order. There’s another possibility – your bike might have worn out or faulty gear components. As you consistently use your bike, wear and tear are unavoidable. Over time, the gear components might wear down, degrade, and cease to perform optimally.

Inspect the gear cogs, derailleurs, and the bicycle chain. Any signs of undue wear, rust, or damage could mean that these components need replacement. Consult with a bike mechanic if you’re uncertain or find proof of damaged parts.

Remember, bike maintenance is essential, as well-maintained gears could save you from pedaling-related grievances. If you want smooth rides with easy pedaling, attention to these details can make all the difference. So, keep your gears in check, make regular inspections a habit, and never ignore potential gear mechanism problems.

Solutions for Bike Not Pedaling Forward

A person's feet on a mountain bike.

If you’re a bike enthusiast, whether a newbie cyclist or a seasoned rider, finding your bike not pedaling forward can feel like a nightmare. Not to worry! Here are a couple of reasons why this might happen and what you can do to get back on the road again.

1. Checking and Adjusting the Chain

Your bike’s chain is probably the hardest working part and is responsible for transferring energy from the pedals to the wheels. A slipped or misaligned chain can cause your bike to stop pedaling forward. Here is how you can handle that:

Inspect: If the chain has come off the gears, you can put it back on by pedaling backward gently while guiding the chain with your hand. Use gloves to keep your hands clean.

Adjust: If the chain is stretched or loosened, it may require tightening. This task may need special tools like a chain tool for the job. Try to adjust the tension either by shifting the rear wheel if your bike has a horizontal dropout or by adjusting the derailleur if your bike has a derailleur system.

2. Repairing or Replacing Gear Components

Gears in your bike determine how easy or hard it is to pedal. If you find any issues, it might be time to repair or replace the gear components.

Examine: Investigate the derailleurs and shifters for any physical damage. If there is wear and tear or damage, you might need to replace the defective components.

Repair or replace: If there’s a problem in shifting gears or making adjustments, it might be an issue with the shift lever or the derailleur, which require immediate repair or replacement.

Remember, bike maintenance, including cleaning and lubricating, can prevent many issues. If nothing seems to work or the tasks seem a bit too complex to handle, taking your bike to a professional might be the best choice. It’s all about keeping you and your bike safe on the road!


After delving into the issue, it’s clear that several reasons can contribute to why your bike won’t pedal forward. A thorough inspection and understanding of how to rectify each predicament is vital. You’re now armed with possible causes and simple fixes to these issues as discussed in this piece.

Summary of Possible Causes and Solutions for a Bike Not Pedaling Forward

Here are a few reasons why your two-wheeler might refuse to move forward and the steps to troubleshoot each one:

1. Loose Chain: A loose or derailed chain could be why the bike is not pedaling forward. Cautiously inspect the bike chain; if it’s loose, tight it up using a chain tool and if it has come off the sprocket, carefully place it back.

2. Damaged Freewheel: The freewheel is an integral part in a bike’s mechanism that allows it to coast without the peddles moving. A damaged freewheel can interfere with forward motion. A visit to a local bike shop or replacing it might be necessary.

3. Brake Issues: Sometimes, the brakes might be too tight and impede the bike tires from spinning freely. Check your bike’s brakes and ensure they’re not rubbing on the tires when not engaged.

Below is a table recap of the causes and solutions:

Loose ChainInspect and tighten the chain using a chain tool or reposition it back onto the sprocket.
Damaged FreewheelSeek professional help from a local bike shop or consider replacing the part.
Brake InterferenceMake sure the brakes are not rubbing on the bike tires when they are not in use.

Last word: Remember, it’s essential to maintain your bike and regularly inspect its mechanics. If you encounter complex issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

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