How to Fix a Bike Pedal in 5 Steps

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Has your bike broken down? Is your pedal giving you a problem? If yes, then you need to keep reading this guide to learn how to fix a bike pedal crank!

Out of all the components of a bike, the bike pedals probably have the most straightforward use. They transfer power from the rider to the front and rear wheels to propel the bike.

Likewise, they’re also subject to almost the same kind of wear and tear as the tires, although they’re often neglected when it comes to maintenance.

That is, of course, until you’re riding one day and the pedal feels loose or comes straight off and you lose your balance.

How to Do Bicycle Pedal Repair

Whether you’re handy around the house or not, most people would consider fixing a bike pedal to be pretty straightforward.

What’s there to it? You take off a pedal and either tighten it back into place or replace it with a new one, right?

Yes and no. While what was just described is an oversimplification of how to fix a bike pedal, there are certain considerations to be made at each step.

For example; the left side pedal doesn’t screw back in like the right, or there’s a right and a wrong wrench when it comes to fixing bike pedals.

Before getting into the ‘how’ of it all, let’s review the ‘what.’

Here’s a list of tools you might need for bike pedal repair:

  • Bike stand
  • Smart wrench, or Allen wrench
  • File
  • Pick
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • New Pedals (if necessary)

1. Setting Up 

Once you’ve gathered your tools, it’s time to set up. Mount your bike upside down on a bike stand or have it lying on its handlebars on a flat surface.

Inspect the bicycle for any damage. Reevaluate why you needed to learn how to fix a bike pedal.

Was it because:

  • The bike pedal felt loose, or
  • The bike pedal came off while riding it

In the first case, you may or may not need to replace the pedals completely. Whereas in the second case, there’s a strong possibility you might need to buy a new set of pedals.

Once you’re done inspecting the pedals, clean the bike (at least superficially) before unscrewing the pedals. Unscrew the pedals by turning the right one out clockwise, and the left one counter-clockwise.

This is an important thing to remember later on when you’re screwing the pedals back into place: The right one screws on like anything, and the left one doesn’t.

2. Unscrew the Pedals

Inspect the space between the pedal and the metal arm that attaches to the pedal, the crank arm. The kind of spanner or wrench you use depends on whether or not there are any flats for the wrench to grip onto.

  • If you find flats, you’ll need a pedal wrench or spanner (smart wrench).
  • If you find a socket at the end of the axle instead of flats, you’ll need an Allen-key wrench.

The size of the wrench you use depends wholly on the flats and the socket. A 15mm wrench is usually appropriate for most bikes or a 14mm one for children’s bikes. Place the jaws of the wrench onto the nuts or flats located between the pedal and the pedal arm.

In the case of an Allen-key wrench, a 6mm one would work for both adult and children bikes. Insert the head of the Allen-key wrench in the socket and turn the pedal arm clockwise or counterclockwise.

Hold onto the pedal on the opposite side while you unscrew the other to give yourself more balance.

Replace the wrench on the nuts or flats with the handles up to make another rotation. Continue to crank the wrench until the pedal is loosened enough to come off.

3. Clean and File 

Once unscrewed, inspect the threads of the socket and the pedal for any rust. The most probable cause of the pedal coming off or going loose is because the pedal’s bolt and the socket had rust on it. This is where rubbing alcohol, bike grease, picks, and files come into play.

Depending on the amount of rust on the bolt, you may or may not need to replace the pedals completely. 

Start by cleaning the bolt with some rubbing alcohol followed by filing the threads on the bolt to remove any rust. This will help to better adapt the pedal onto the bike.

As far as the socket is concerned, you may need a pick to remove dirt, rust, or the sort from inside. Follow it up by greasing the socket and reattaching the pedal.

4. Fix the Bearings on the Bike 

Next up in learning how to fix a bike pedal is fixing the bearings. Bicycle pedal repair is incomplete if you’re right back where you started – with a bike that topples over. This is why it’s important to know how to fix bike pedal bearings.

Pry the dust cap open using a screwdriver and find an appropriate wrench to unscrew the lock-nut.

Remove both the washer and the lock-nut from the spindle while holding onto the spindle on the opposite end for support. Thread the cone before removing the bearings with a tweezer from the spindle.

5. Put Everything Back in Place 

You might notice the pedals being labeled as either ‘L’ or ‘R.’ This, understandably, stands for left and right.

Place the pedals back into the socket and tighten them into place by turning the right pedal clockwise and the left one counter-clockwise.

After you feel some resistance to the pedal, turn it 1/8th further to properly fix it into place.

Conclusion

Learning how to fix a bike pedal is probably the easiest thing in the world. However, it requires the right tools, the right procedure, and the right mindset for it.

Bike pedal repair is done with the right wrenches, cleaning equipment, and so forth.

James Mattis

James is a passionate bicyclist who has done about every kind of biking there is. He loves the wind in his hair, the sun over his shoulder and maybe even the bugs in his teeth. No, just kidding about that last item. He isn’t crazy about road burns, either, but acknowledges that to have the good there is the occasional tumble. James feels that his bike is the place where he can unwind, leave troubles alongside the road, meet new people, go new places, and live the life of adventure that he loves. He is ready to share the ride with you.

1 Comment
  1. As a bike fitter I’ve never had a busier year! A lot of shops have stopped fitting, but the independent fitters have been hard at it, local restricti0ns permitting. It is likely the pressure on the right pedal is uneven i.e you are not flat footed across the pedal. You may be a candidate for wedge under the cleat to spread the load and force out, but that is just one idea out of many issues.

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