Your bicycle pedals are a critical component of your bicycle. The pedals are where you apply force, and it's important for safety and efficient operation that your pedals are in good working order and correctly installed. Many bicycles arrive without the pedals installed, so you will need to install them prior to operation. You may also wish to remove your pedals to pack for travel or storage. Installing or removing pedals is a simple process which does not require a professional mechanic. In this article we will provide an overview on how to change bike pedals.
How to Change Bike Pedals
Anyone can learn how to change bike pedals. The job requires minimal specialized tools. If you have a bicycle stand the operation is easier, but you can also change your pedals without a stand. Bicycle pedals are unique in that the left pedal is reverse threaded and loosens when turned clockwise. This can cause some confusion for mechanically inclined people conditioned to loosening a screw by turning it counterclockwise. The reason one bicycle pedal is reverse threaded is to prevent it from becoming loose by the action of forward pedaling.
What you will need in order to change bike pedals:
A pedal wrench is the most useful tools for learning how to change bike pedals. Depending on the pedal, you can sometimes use a regular wrench or a crescent wrench. However, some pedals do not have a large space between the pedal and the crank. A pedal wrench has a very narrow head and a long handle to give you leverage. The opening is fifteen millimeters, which is the most common pedal size. Pedal wrenches are inexpensive and are a good purchase for anyone who works regularly on bicycles.
It is important to apply thread lubrication or grease to your pedal threads before you install the pedals onto your bicycle. The lubrication prevents the pedal from rusting into place and makes it easier to remove them in the future.
Bicycle stands are useful for basic maintenance. A stand allows you to spin the bicycle wheel so you can loosen the pedal by securing the wrench flat and spinning the crank. If you do not have a stand, it is possible to change a pedal by leaning your bicycle up against a wall. It is useful to have an assistant to hold the bicycle to ensure it doesn't fall and injure you.
Pedal Installation and Removal
The procedure for how to change a bike pedal is easy to master. The only potential area of difficulty is if the threads have become rusted and a pedal is frozen in place. Installing and removing pedals on a new bicycle is a good way to learn the concept of how to change a bike pedal. Once you have practiced on a new bicycle, you should have greater success working on old or rusty bicycles in need of maintenance.
The three tips you need to know are in regards to:
Prepare your pedals by applying grease to the threads. It is important to apply the grease to ensure that the pedals pull up properly tight. With the threads greased, examine the pedal for a little L or R stamped on the axle. The L is for the left side and the R is for the right side. If there are no markings, gently try turning the pedal in the crank to see if it fits. Do not force the reverse threaded pedal into the normally threaded crank arm.
Take the R pedal and finger tighten it into the right crank arm by spinning it clockwise. When you've screwed the pedal into place a few turns, install the pedal wrench to affix the pedal and then spin the whole crank arm backwards. You'll find it's easier to spin the crank arm than to turn the pedal wrench, but use whichever method you find easiest.
When the pedal has been screwed fully into the crank, brace one hand on the opposite crank arm and tighten the bolt. You need to secure the opposite crank arm so that the crank arm doesn't spin as you apply force. The common torque applied to tighten a bicycle pedal is about 34 Newton meters. The process is the same on the left side except that you thread the pedal in counterclockwise. Tightening may require repositioning your wrench or adjusting the position of your crank for better leverage.
When installing pedals with an Allen bolt, you will spin them entirely in place using only the Allen key and not by spinning the bicycle crank.
Removing an old or rusted pedal is where learning how to change bike pedals becomes difficult. If the threads have become rusted, it may be necessary to apply more than the 34 Newton meters of applied tightening torque to loosen them.
When working without a stand, put the bicycle on the ground and spin the crank so that the crank arm is parallel to the ground. Straddle the rear wheel to stabilize the bicycle and insert the pedal wrench onto the wrench flat of the forward-most so the wrench is at a slight angle and sits just above the crank arm. Secure the other crank with your opposite hand and push down on the pedal wrench using your body weight to loosen the threads. You can sometimes loosen rusted threads by gently taping on the pedal wrench with a hammer or mallet.
When using this procedure, always be sure to insert your pedal wrench from the top, and that the crank arm is forward. The closer the pedal wrench aligns with the crank arm, the better your leverage. A stand is recommended for removing Allan bolt pedals. The left pedal loosens when turned clockwise, the right pedal loosens when turned counterclockwise.
Safety is the most important thing to keep in mind when learning how to change bike pedals. If you are removing a rusted pedal, you might have to apply a tremendous amount of force to free up the threads. When the threads loosen, your hand might slip and come crashing down with tremendous force. Be especially mindful of the gears on the crank when you are changing pedals. If your hand slips off the wrench, or comes crashing down on the teeth of the gears with great force, you can suffer a very serious injury.
Always make sure that the chain is on the large gear when you are practicing how to change bike pedals. With the chain on the large gear, you offer yourself some protection against abrasions caused by the gear teeth. You should also be mindful of leverage at all times. Remember that learning how to change bike pedals means you are learning how to manipulate two levers simultaneously. The crank is a lever, and your wrench is another lever. If either of these levers should slip, you could injure yourself.
With reasonable attention to safety, you should be able to learn how to change bike pedals without exposing yourself to unreasonable risk.
When to Change Your Pedals
There are many times when cyclists find they have to change their pedals. Pedals are subject to heavy usage and are vulnerable to picking up grit from the road. Pedals for mountain bicycles are more prone to picking up dirt than road bike pedals. If the bearings wear out in your pedal, the pedal could seize up and become dangerous. Always ensure that the pedal on your bicycle spins freely without grinding or jerky motion.
Removing pedals reduces the width of a bicycle and makes them easier to store. Removing the pedals is also helpful when shipping the bicycle, or when taking it on a trip. The most common reasons for changing a pedal are:
Learning how to change bike pedals is a critical component of bicycle maintenance. The procedure is low risk and easy but it can become difficult if the threads of a pedal have rusted or fused into place. Always keep safety in mind when changing your bike pedals. Make sure that the chain is on the large chain ring in the front to give you some protection from the teeth on the gears. If your hand should slip off the wrench, you can suffer severe injuries if your hand impacts with the gear teeth.
By being mindful of your leverage positions and remembering that the left pedal is reverse threaded, you can change your pedals easily and safely. Remember to apply thread lube and tighten your pedals with a torque of approximately 34 Newton Meters before riding. Properly maintained and installed bicycle pedals ensure you will have a safe and enjoyable ride.