How to Replace Bicycle Pedals in 4 Steps

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You might have been riding your bike one sunny afternoon and felt something was a bit off. The bicycle wasn’t running as smoothly as it had before and you couldn’t seem to maneuver the bike properly. A quick inspection later and you’re searching for ways on how to replace bicycle pedals. 

Many people believe that changing bicycle pedals is as easy as screwing and unscrewing the lid on a jar of pickles. The presumption usually ends with a damaged bike and the owner having to incur added mechanic costs than what was necessary in the first place. 

By no means is replacing bicycle pedals as easy as it’s made out to be. However, it’s not as hard either. You definitely can do it on your own. You just need the right knowledge, the right equipment, and the right technique.

All of which is detailed down below.

How to Replace Bicycle Pedals: Essentials

Perhaps the most important thing to know before you get started is that the threads on each crank of a bicycle pedal turn in the opposite direction.

This means that the cranks on the right pedal are loosened by turning them counter-clockwise, and the cranks on the left one are loosened by turning them clockwise.

Understandably, this is a bit of a deviation from what’s normally assumed. However, there’s strong logic behind it. A bicyclist would have otherwise constantly been ‘tightening’ the pedals each time he or she rode the bike.

Eventually, the pedals tighten to the extent that the cyclist cannot move them or they end up mangling their feet because of how difficult it is to maneuver the bike. With the threads on each crank running in the opposite direction, your pedals don’t just fall off. You’ll feel them coming loose long before and either replace or tighten them.

Cyclists usually want to learn how to replace bike pedals to upgrade to newer ones, modifications for designated purposes (such as triathlons), or to pack their bikes.

1. Gather Your Tools

There are a few things you need handy if you need to know how to replace bicycle pedals:

  • Pedal wrench
  • Hexagonal key
  • Bike mount or stand (optional)
  • Bike grease (optional)

Pedal wrenches are long and slender tools designed to adjust the external spindle flats. The spindle flats lie between the pedals and the crank leg. 

Regular wrenches can’t do the job as effectively or efficiently as pedal wrenches. They also put a lot of undue stress on your wrist and knuckles.

Hexagonal keys fit inside the spindle from the inside of the crank. Most modern pedals require the use of a hexagonal key for easier and more efficient replacement.

Once you take out the old pedals and before replacing them with new ones, you should apply bike grease. Not just to make the process easier, but to increase the effectiveness and the longevity of your biking equipment. 

A bike stand or a bike mount is needed to keep the bike upright and steady while you’re replacing the pedals.

2. Take the Old Pedals Off 

Rest the bike on a bike stand or a bike mount. If you don’t have either, you can just as easily rest the bicycle against a wall or a flat surface.

However, the bike should remain steady during the process. Identify whether you’ll need a pedal wrench or a hexagonal key to remove the pedals.

If you look at the space between the pedal and the crank arm, you will notice either flats for the spanner to grip onto or a socket. In the case of the former, use a pedal wrench and a hex key for the latter.

If you were to take off the right pedal, hold onto the bike from the opposite pedal (in this case the left pedal) for stability and rotate the pedal counter-clockwise. Repeat but vice versa for the left pedal.

Some bikes have washers attached to the pedals for better grip.

After you’ve completely removed a pedal, make sure you inspect the ground for any washers that might have come off. Most bicycle pedals, however, don’t have washers.

3. Replace with New Pedals 

Just by the fact that removing bicycle pedals wasn’t as easy as unscrewing the lid on a jar of pickles, you can see how replacing pedals is actually a lot more complicated than what it’s made out to be. However, if you thought it was difficult to remove them, imagine having to reattach them. 

Most manufacturers label pedals with either an L or an R to indicate which side they go on. In case your replacement pedals didn’t come with these specifications, hold the pedals up and notice the direction the threads rise up to.

The threads on the right pedal rise to the right, and the lines on the left one rise on the left. To attach new pedals, make sure you secure them at a 90-degree angle to prevent cross-threading them.

The right-side pedal (also known as the drive side pedal) tightens clockwise and towards the front of the bike. The left side pedal (also known as the non-drive side pedal) tightens counter-clockwise towards the front of the bike.

According to manufacturers’ recommendations, you need to turn the pedals 1/8th of an inch each time after full resistance. Apply bike grease to the threads to keep them from cranking while you apply pressure. 

Slide washers (if they’re needed) onto the newer spindles. 

4. Remove Bike Pedals with an Allen Wrench 

An Allen key might work opposite since you’ll be approaching the pedal from the opposite side. The right side of the bike for the right pedal and the left side of the bike for the left one. 

To put it simply, turn the pedal towards the back of the bike to remove them and vice versa to replace them. Keep rotating the pedals until they come off.

Once they do thoroughly, inspect the ground for any washers that might have fallen off. And that’s it!

Conclusion

Replacing bike pedals isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be. While it might not be the trickiest thing on the planet, there are a few things that have to be considered and taken into account. 

For example; learning how to replace bike pedals also means learning that the right and the left pedals loosen and tighten in the opposite direction. 

From the tools to the resistance and to answering questions such as how to remove bike pedals with an Allen wrench, this is your step-by-step guide on how to replace bicycle pedals.

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.

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