How do you remove bike pedals? It’s a good idea to learn how to do this basic chore. In fact, I encourage cyclists to learn how to do basic bike maintenance themselves.
Changing bike pedals may seem like an “easy-peasy” kind of procedure, but removing and installing bike pedals can be difficult and frustrating if you’ve not done it before.
I’ve put together an in-depth guide on how to remove bike pedals as well as how to install bike pedals for the first time.
But first things first, let’s look at the tools you will need to change bicycle pedals.
Tools needed for removing bike pedals
- A pedal wrench/spanner or a Hexagonal Allen-key. Both these tools are used to unscrew the pedals from the crank arms. The type of pedals you have determine which of these two tools you will use, although some pedals can be unscrewed using both tools.
To know which tool is best, look at the place where the pedals connect to the crank arms (better known as the axle). If there are flats for a wrench to clench on, you can use that. If you don’t see any flats, look for a Hexagonal Allen-key socket at the axle’s end.
- Bike grease or anti-seize. When installing your bike pedals, you will need to apply a lubricant. I suggest bike grease or anti-seize. This reduces friction between the crank arms and the pedal threads, preventing them from making that annoying squeaky sound due to excessive wear. It also keeps rust and corrosion at bay. Don’t put too much bike grease or anti-seize since it will attract dust, dirt, and sand, which increases friction even more.
- Torque wrench. This tool helps you to tighten the pedals when you are installing them.
Now that you have got all the necessary tools, let’s look at how to take off bike pedals and install them, shall we?
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1. How to Remove Bike Pedals
Here are simple steps on how to remove pedals from bike:-
Step one: Before you begin to change bicycle pedals, make sure your bicycle is secure and cannot fall on you while you work on it. You could rest it on its kickstand if it has one, mount it on a work stand or lean it against the wall. If you have a spare set of hand around ask them to help with keeping it in position. If you have several chainrings, shift onto the largest one. This will prevent you from getting injured if your hands slip while you are removing the bike pedals.
Step two: Choose the best tool to unscrew the pedals. If you want to use a spanner make sure it’s specifically meant for unscrewing bicycle pedals. A typical open spanner works just as well, but a wrench that is explicitly designed to unscrew pedals is better. It has longer levers, which makes it easier for you to unscrew without damaging the crank arms. It also has a narrower width, which perfectly fits the small gap between the pedals and the crank arms.
Step three: Rotate the crank arms to access the pedals easily.
Step four: Begin to unscrew the pedals by rotating the spindle. This is the trickiest part of the whole bike pedal removal procedure. If you’re wondering, “How do I loosen my left bike pedals?” this is how you do it. Note that left bike pedals do not screw in the right direction; they have left-hand threads. You have to turn them clockwise to unscrew, and anti-clockwise to screw them in.
The reason for this is a mechanical process called precession. When you are pedaling, your feet put a downward force on both pedals, which sends them spinning in the opposite direction in the crank arms. So, if the left pedal had right-hand threads, it would loosen and fall off while you are cycling.
Step five: Continue rotating the spindle until the pedals until entirely free.
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2. How to Install Bike Pedals
Step one: Your pedals come packaged, and they are not the same. Before installing the pedals, check which is the right-side pedal and left-side pedal. Most pedals have “R” and “L” labels printed on their spindles to indicate where they go.
Some come without labels. If yours aren’t, hold them up and look at the threads on the spindle. If the threads are rotating towards the right, then the pedal goes on the right side. If the threads are rotating towards the left, then the pedal goes on the left side.
Step two: Apply some bike grease or anti-seize on the pedals’ spindles. It makes it easier to screw them in or take them of the crank arms.
Step three: Insert each pedal into their respective crank arms at a 90°angle.
Step four: Using either a pedal wrench or a Hexagonal Allen-key, depending on the type of pedals you have, tighten by rotating anti-clockwise for the left-side pedal, and clockwise for the right-side pedal.
Step five: If you feel any resistance, use a torque wrench to tighten the pedals further until you are satisfied that they are tight enough. Remember to check the pedals regularly to make sure that they are secure enough.
Your pedals are in and ready for use.
New pedals don’t mean much if you don’t do regular bicycle maintenance. I’ve written detailed posts about how to tighten a bike chain, how to clean a bike chain and how to remove rust from a bike chain.
A Quick Recap On Removing and Installing Bike Pedals
To remove bicycle pedals:
- Mount your bicycle in a work stand, or set it on its kickstand for easy access and safety purposes. If you have several chainstrings, set to the largest one.
- Inspect your pedals to know which tool you will use to unscrew the pedals.
- Begin unscrewing the pedals by rotating the spindles. Remember, the left-side pedal rotates clockwise, while the right-side rotates anti-clockwise.
- Continue rotating the spindles until the pedals are free.
To install bicycle pedals:
- Know the right-side pedal from the left-side by checking the labels. If they are not labeled don’t worry: the spindle threads of the left-side pedal rotate towards the left, and the spindle threads of the right-side pedals rotate towards the right.
- Apply the appropriate amount of bike grease on the pedals’ spindles.
- Insert each pedal into the crank arms at a 90° angle.
- Begin tightening the pedals until you feel some resistance. Remember the left pedal screws in the anti-clockwise direction, while the right pedal screws in the clockwise direction.
Continue tightening them using a torque wrench until you are satisfied that they are tight enough.
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How to Maintain Bike Pedals
Pedals get stepped on, dragged through dirt, mud, smashed against rocks, so it’s crucial to take good care of them. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace them more frequently than is necessary.
Here at some simple tips for proper bike pedal maintenance:
- Give your pedals a thorough cleaning. Giving your pedals that quick rinse is not a good idea. You might miss some mud or dust particles between the parts of the pedals, which increases friction, especially between the spindle threads and the crank arms, which increases wear. Keep the following in mind:
- Do not wash your pedals with a high-pressure water source. Sure, the water will help you clean them quickly, but it can blow dust and mud particles further into the bearings. It would be better if you use a low-pressure water source, to slowly but carefully clean these small but essential parts of your bicycle.
- Don’t use flowing water to clean your pedals for a long time. Extensive use of flowing water to clean the pedals can wash out the bike grease between its parts and expose the metal to rust and corrosion. You should use water to soften the particles and then use a rag to clean each part. As you do this inspect the pedals for any signs of wear and damage.
- If you have clipless pedals, pay attention to the cleats. If they easily slip out of your pedals, they are either worn out or need cleaning. Inspect them to see what the problem could be. If the cleats have any missing materials or seem worn out replace them.
- When you change bike pedals, always apply the appropriate amount of grease on the spindle threads to prevent rusting which makes it difficult to pedal.
- Do not neglect your pedals’ bearings and springs. They might need a lot of attention, but it doesn’t hurt to inspect them once in a while. This is because the grease in between them thins over time. It would be best to re-grease them once in a while to keep them in good working condition.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Bike Pedals
There is an extensive range of different bike pedals out in the market, so keep the following in mind to find the right pair for your bicycle.
- The type of bicycle pedal
There are three types of bicycle pedals. Your choice of which bike pedal depends on several factors. Before you decide which kind of pedals to buy, think about a few things: how do they operate? Will they be conducive to your cycling style? Might you need a special pair of shoes to cycle on the pedals you have in mind? These kinds of questions will help you narrow down to the pair of pedals that are most comfortable and convenient for you.
- Pedal weight
The question of whether lightweight or heavyweight pedals are better is a controversial one. Heavyweight pedals add to the overall bicycle’s weight, which affects your cycling speed. Lightweight pedals might be lighter but they are not durable. Do a little bit of research before you buy bicycle pedals.
- Mud and snow shedding abilities
You don’t want to spend too much time cleaning mud from your bicycle pedals. When looking for pedals, go for those with open spaces in between to allow you to push mud or snow out. It’s easier to clean them later on.
This is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when buying almost anything. You want pedals that will give you years’ worth of service. When looking to purchase pedals for your bike, go for ones that are made of long-lasting material that can withstand any environment. They should also have smooth bearings and springs that will not require a lot of maintenance.
This is a crucial factor, especially when it comes to clipless pedals. Pedals should have adjustable pedal tension settings and float to allow you to rotate your feet when you have clipped them in the cleats. They should also allow you to make any necessary changes like replacing spike pins and even changing color. In general, the more adjustable the pedals are, the better.
A good bicycle pedal is easy to maintain, especially when it comes to cleaning and re-greasing it. Go for a pedal with smooth spindle threads, so when you want to grease it, you can easily screw and unscrew it from the crank arms. Its parts should be easy to clean.
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FAQ – How to Remove Bike Pedals
- How do you unscrew bile pedals?
You’ll need a pedal wrench or hex key to unscrew a bike pedal from the crank arm. To unscrew the right pedal turn counterclockwise, and to unscrew a left pedal turn clockwise. Before you put in new pedals you should grease them with good quality lube. Screw them in at a 900 angle. Tighten the right pedal by turning it clockwise and the left by turning counterclockwise.
- How do you remove pedals from a bike without a pedal wrench?
You need a special wrench for pedals because the flats are usually thinner than the width of most common wrenches. You may not have a pedal wrench handy especially in times of emergencies.
An alternative would be a 15 mm cone wrench. It’s short and doesn’t give good leverage so you’ll have to work a bit harder. It isn’t a long term solution though; these wrenches tend to be quite thin and repeated use will ruin the jaws. You can carry one for emergency use only.
For proper bike maintenance in your garage it’s a good idea to invest in a proper pedal wrench.
If you have an older bike you can use an 8 mm Allen bit.
- How do you remove Allen wrench bike pedals?
8 mm Allen keys are the best way to remove and replace bike pedals. To remove a pedal, always position the Allen key so that the handle of the wrench is pointing to the rear of the bike. You’ll have more leverage when you push it down. The crank arm should be in the 6 o’clock position.
Insert the smaller end of the Allen key in the crank and using your right hand push down on it until the pedal starts to come loose. Use your left hand to hold the pedal and keep it from spinning forward.
Turn the Allen wrench and insert the long end into the back side of the pedal. Turn clockwise until the pedal comes off.
- Are bike pedals reverse threaded?
Left and right bike pedals are threaded differently and it’s important to know the difference so that you don’t damage them by tightening bolts to tight. Right hand pedals are right-hand threaded and you tighten bolts by turning clockwise. Left pedals are reverse threaded (left-hand threaded) so you tighten bolts by turning counterclockwise.
Conclusion – How to Remove Pedals from Bike
This in-depth guide should help make removing and installing bike pedals is a breeze.
Some of us aren’t mechanically savvy, and that’s okay. If you find that learning how to remove and install bike pedals is too much of a task, find a mechanic near you. For a small fee they’ll make sure you always have working pedals.