Bike Pedal Removal: Everything You Need To Know
Table of Contents
Working on your own bikes can be even more fun than riding them. The satisfaction of repairing and servicing parts yourself adds to the cycling experience. You don’t need to go to the extent of learning how to build a bike but just general common skills.
A job that will always come up, and we feel an essential skill every cyclist should learn is how to remove and change bike pedals. It might sound like a fairly simple task, but surprisingly, many people get it wrong, which can become an expensive mistake.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about changing pedals. We will be discussing:
- Why Remove Bike Pedals?
- The Different Types Of Bike Pedals
- How To Change Bike Pedals
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Remove Bike Pedals?
There are a lot of reasons why you are going to want to remove pedals from your bike. Here’s what you need to know:
Broken Or Old Pedals
Pedals are a mechanical component and, over time, do wear down. The bearings inside can become dirty and work themselves loose, which results in the pedals having a play. Not only are they awful to ride like this, but they can also break and come off. You should remove them to service or replace them completely.
To Change Pedal Type
Bike pedals come in all different types, you have SPD, SPD-SL, Look Delta, Flat Pedals, and even the MTB Egg Beaters. Many people choose to swap their pedals out to something more suited to the kind of riding they are doing.
Upgrading For Performance
You might remove your pedals and upgrade them to improve your performance. A lot of cyclists go to clip-in pedals which give the ability to use cycling shoes and cleats. This means you can fix your feet to the pedals giving you better power transfer, and it can even help you get more comfortable with a better fit. You may even want lighter flat pedals to save bike weight or to have power data.
Also Read: How To Remove a Bike Chain
If you ever travel with a bike, it’s important that you take the pedals off. If you’re throwing it in the back of the car, then we wouldn’t recommend taking the pedals off, but if you plan to send the bike anywhere or are taking it on a plane or some trains, it has to be done or companies don’t tend to take it.
The Different Types Of Bike Pedals
If you plan to upgrade your pedal to a different type, it’s good to know what is available and why you might want to change to them. Here are the three main types you might consider upgrading to.
You can expect flat pedals to come as standard on a bike. Budget options will be made of plastic, and better quality options will generally be made of metal. They are designed to be used with normal shoes and can offer a good grip without locking your foot into place.
Then we have SPD, which stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. These are one of the most popular types of pedals and are highly used in mountain biking and on spin bike shoes. They are small double-sided pedals that work even when plugged up with mud. They are very hard-wearing and designed to be used with small SPD metal 2-bolt cleats.
Then we have SPD-SL, which stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics Super Light. Often referred to as road bike clip-in pedals. These are single-sided pedals that have the ability to secure your foot on the base. These use a plastic cleat on a 3-bolt system, making it difficult to walk when not on the bike as they are very slippery.
Clipless pedals in the name, makes it sound like your foot is free when actually this is we this is the opposite in the cycling industry. It means it’s clipped in.
Bike Pedal Removal: How To Remove Bike Pedals
Now for the fun part, let’s teach you how to change bike pedals. Here’s our expert guide, we recommend following each step and taking your time to follow the process properly.
What Will You Need?
To change out a set of pedals, you won’t need much. Here’s what we recommend:
- Pedal Spanner Or Allen Key Set
- Thread Grease (Optional)
- Cleaning Rag (Optional)
Step 1: Preparation
The first step is to get prepared. You will want to find a safe place to work where you won’t be in anyone’s way. You will also want to have all your tools ready, and you might want to wear some dirty clothes when using grease.
Step 2: Learn Direction To Undo
The biggest place where cyclists go wrong when changing pedals is going in the wrong direction and tightening them up too much. This is why it’s important to know that you’re going in the correct direction before we start.
Bike pedals are directional, and because of this, one will undo clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. Pedal thread direction can get confusing at times. The best way to understand is a method I often have taught and is foolproof to get the correct direction.
Also Read: How To Measure Rim Width
Pop the bike against a wall and point the pedal towards the front wheel. Remember on the right-hand side it will be 3 o’clock and on the left-hand side 9 o’clock. Now pop the pedal spanner or Allen key on the wrench flats and point it to the rear of the bike opposite to the way the pedal is pointing.
In this position, if you are to push the spanner down, it will undo. If you are to push the panel up, it will tighten the pedal up.
Step 3: Remove The Pedals
Now it is time we loosen the bicycle pedals. If the pedal installed is too tight or without grease, it can be a pain to remove, but you can use a few tricks to get by a stuck pedal. We don’t want to resort to these if we don’t have to. The less force we can apply to the pedal and crank arm the better.
The first way to try is to stand on the opposite side of the bike, lean over and push the pedal spanner down while holding onto the pedal’s crank arm or pedal body. This hopefully will release the pedal, but when applying force, you need to be careful as if you slip, you’re very close to the sharp chainrings.
If this doesn’t work, the second way to approach pedal removal is to come around the other side, hold the front brake and stand on the spanner. Putting your whole body weight into it is normally enough to free it. Double check it’s definitely undoing before doing this.
Once you have done one side, go to the opposite crank and undo the other bicycle pedal. Put the pedals in a safe place tied together in case you need to use them again. Now you know how to remove pedals. You’re finished if you don’t plan to put new pedals in.
Step 4: Clean And Grease (Optional)
Now if you plan to reinstall some pedals, here’s the correct way to do it. Take the cloth and clean the threads in the bike crank arms and the new pedals. You want to get in nice and deep and focus on seeing the threads clearly.
Once all is nice and clean, you are going to want to identify which pedal is the left and which is the right. You can do this by inspecting the pedal. Typically one will have an L on, and the other will have an R on. Put the right on the right side of the bike and the left on the left so you don’t get them wrong when installing.
Step 5: Install The New Pedals
We recommend putting a drop of grease on the thread of the pedal and using the cleaning rag to spread it around. Once you have done that, start tightening the pedals in just by hand until you cannot go any further. Remember, it’s the opposite way to how you undo them.
Then you will want to take the pedal spanner or Allen keys and tighten it up fairly tight but not too much that you cannot take it off. Then you need to get out and give them a test ride.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now let’s answer some of your most popular questions about installing bike pedals.
How do I tell which pedal is the left pedal and right pedal?
Typically most pedals will have it marked on them with either an L for left or R for right. If it doesn’t, then you will have to work it out by how it looks. Think about how the pedal should sit and how the cleat will connect.
What if my pedal wrench doesn’t fit?
It’s not rare on modern pedals that you might not have a place for the standard 15mm pedal spanner. If this is the case for you on the rear of the pedal spindle, you will have an Allen key fitment. On most pedals, it’s 8mm. On some, it’s 6mm. When undoing this, be careful not to round the bolt.
How tight should the pedals be?
The difficulty when it comes to knowing how tight pedals should be is being able to measure the force being applied. Generally, bike pedal spanners don’t come in torque options, and Bike Allen key torque wrenches don’t go high enough. Shimano recommends 35-55nm, but we say nip the pedal axle tight but don’t force it too much.
Do I need grease when installing pedals?
You don’t need grease when installing pedals, but if you don’t use it, the pedals can be incredibly difficult to get off if left on for a long time. If you plan to not use grease, clean the threads as much as possible. It doesn’t always have to be bike grease. Most grease will work.
Do all pedals fit on all different bikes?
In modern times most pedal threads are 9/16 inch, around 99% of bikes realistically. The exceptions you are going to find are children’s bikes, some old vintage bikes, and some BMX bikes. Generally, it’s very rare to find anything that isn’t 9/16 inch.