Why did oiling my bicycle chain STOP it from jumping sprocket teeth?

I ride an old bike. A little while ago my chain started to jump sprocket teeth when I would pedal hard. I recognized this as a classic symptom of an old and stretched chain and/or worn back cluster, but I was too busy to replace the components in question.

Before I went for a ride yesterday I noticed that the chain was dry as a bone, so I figured I’d oil 'er up. I did so with some reluctance, however, figuring that it would make the skipping worse. Instead, it seems to have cured the problem altogether! Not one skip during the entire ride.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why this worked. The oil should make the links want to slip right over the sprocket teeth, no? Can anyone explain this counterintuitive fix?

The dry, un-oiled chain probably had “stuck links” that didn’t flex properly, so when they tried to wrap around the sprockets, they don’t, and hop off.

Oiling fixed the stuck links, so now they all roll along like they’re supposed to.

Some “differential diagnosis” items that will also cause jumping chains are bent/misaligned derailleurs, bent/worn sprocket teeth and mis-adjusted index shifters.

Complete guess -

Perhaps the chain was having trouble coming off the chainring (or the sprocket). This would increase the tension, and with a worn sprocket, would cause the slippage.

Chain lube is like aspirin, a miracle cure for all kinds of stuff that might ail you.

I’m always amazed when doing a mass bike ride (like a charity event) at the amount of people that will set out on one of those rides with a chain that is in serious need of some lubricant.

Air in the tires, lube on the chain. Essential!

Pump up the tires every week.
Lub the chain every month (or so). If you want to start a fight with any cyclist, give an opinion about chain lubs. I’ve used Triflow for years.

I don’t ride right now, but used to every day. I usually lubed every 4 or 5 rides, say every 100-150 miles. Also lubed immediately after any time I rode in the wet which, in winter and spring around here, often was for almost every ride. Your mileage (and rainage) may vary.

Also checked the air pressure before every ride and pumped as needed.