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Why is my chain skipping and popping?

We have a few options for you to try out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to bad shifting performance but fortunately it will be easy to fix! Start with #1 and work your way down until we've got it sorted out.

  1. What is the hub width on your frame? Nearly all modern road bikes are 130mm spacing and modern mountain bikes are typically 135mm spacing. If you're using a mountain bike, be sure to flip the spacer on the KICKR to the 135mm setting (located on the non-drive side). If your frame is not a standard size, it's possible that your are slightly flexing the frame in order to install it on the KICKR, this could cause a misalignment of your derailleur. We DO NOT recommend this setup. 
  2. Does your bicycle currently have a Sram or Shimano drive train that isn't 11 speed?  You will need to make sure you have the correct cassette and spacers installed for your drive train. 
  3. Is your bicycle properly installed on the KICKR? If the frame is not completely in the drop-outs, it is possible that the cassette does not properly align with your derailleur. To check this, undo the trainer quick release and lift up on your handle bars while pressing down on your seat. This will allow the drop outs to sit completely parallel to the axle. Clamp the quick release back shut (make sure it's tight!), shift through the gears, and check the performance.
  4. We know it's a little obvious, but if your bikes not shifting smooth on the road, it probably won't work on the KICKR either! Get a tune up and see if this helps things out.
  5. Drive trains wear out and chains will "stretch". This is just a sad fact of life. Have a bike shop verify that your chain is in good working order. If your chain is "stretched" you will need to install a new chain. NOTE: If it was working just fine before, you may have a worn out cassette on your bike! A new chain and worn out cassette won't mesh very well and worse, will cause your brand new chain to wear out really quick! We (and your local bike shop, I'm sure) will highly recommend replacing the worn out cassette to achieve the best performance. Check your chain monthly and replace it at the first sign of wear. This will significantly prolong the life of your entire drive train and ultimately save you time, money, and frustration down the road. Now that you have a new chain, your KICKR should ride smooth without any popping or skipping.
  6. If you've passed all those tests but STILL feel the grinding/skipping it is also possible that the cassette on the trainer does not exactly line up with the spacing of the cassette on your wheel relative to the frame. Around 80-90% of the bikes we tested on the KICKR worked right out of the box but a few needed some slight tuning of the derailleur to facilitate smooth shifting. If you are not comfortable making adjustments to the derailleur, we recommend a having a bike shop show you how. For the bikes that do need some tuning, usually a few turns of the barrel adjuster are enough to get the smooth shifting you've been searching for! NOTE: When re-installing your rear wheel, you will most likely need to turn set your derailleur back to the original settings for optimal performance.
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