This article is about removing and installing bicycle pedals. If you’re
looking for information on installing cleats for clipless pedal shoe systems
like Look, Shimano, Speedplay, Time, etc., go here
There are special pedal wrenches available that are long for optimum leverage
and have thin jaws to fit onto narrow pedal axles for a good purchase
(Park Tool's wrench, which I use and recommend is shown in the picture
on the bottom of this page).
on what type of pedals you have, you might be able to use a regular combination
wrench instead (most pedals are 15mm). Note that some pedals are installed
and removed with an Allen wrench inserted into the end of the threaded
end of the pedal axle. Youll need one with a long handle. Or, you
can slip a piece of tubing or pipe over it to lengthen your wrench and
improve the leverage you have.
common reason to remove pedals is to upgrade or to switch a pair from
one bike to another. You usually must remove the pedals when you ship
your bicycle in a bike box, too.
removal and installation is trickier than it looks.
Because pedal axles are usually made of steel and crankarms are usually
aluminum, theres the possibility of the hard pedal threads stripping
the soft aluminum ones during pedal installation.
threading is unusual and confusing. The right (drivetrain side) pedal
has regular threading (clockwise turns tighten it; counterclockwise turns
loosen it). The left, however, is the opposite. Whats more, pedals
are often attached to the crankarms super tightly, which can make removal
bicycle trivia is that it was the Wright
brothers (they were bicycle mechanics/retailers before they became
airplane makers) who invented the reverse-threaded left pedal. Until this
innovation, left pedals would unscrew and fall off. Their reverse threading
fixed the problem.
Most pedals have flat spots on the axle near the crankarm for the wrench
to grip. If you dont see any flats, your pedal probably requires
an Allen wrench, in which case, the hole for the tool will be in the end
of the pedal axle, on the inside of the crankarm.
tip: If your bike has more than one chainring, before trying to loosen
pedals, shift onto the large chainring. This ensures that if you slip
when working on the pedals, as I’ve seen happen to a few mechanics,
you wont slam your hand or wrist directly into the chainring teeth,
which results in a nasty injury since the teeth are typically extremely
sharp and also quite greasy.
3 secrets to easy pedal removal:
1. Turn the wrench the right way (to loosen the
right and left pedal, the wrench is turned towards the back of the bike).
Note that if you turn it the wrong way first you can make it even harder
to remove the pedals because you tightened them even more first!
2. Position the wrench alongside the crankarm
for optimum leverage. When its right, youll be able to push
toward the crankarm, scissors style (photo right). If this isnt
possible with your wrench, try a different type.
3. Use a pedal wrench with a long handle or attach
a cheater bar, such as a length of pipe, over your wrench.
How to deal with stuck or frozen pedals
If you try all these steps and simply can’t get the pedals off,
here are some ways to extract even the stubbornist of pedals:
1. Use liquid wrench. If you have the time to wait for
it to work, apply liquid wrench to the pedal threads. Given time to work
its magic, it should penetrate its way between the threads making the
2. Use heat. Try heating the crankarm with a propane
torch. Heat only the crankarm, not the pedal, which likely has plastic
or rubber seals or parts that the heat will damage. Heating the crankarm
a bit will expand it slightly (especially aluminum crankarms) and should
loosen the pedal. Be careful NOT to touch the hot crankarm and burn yourself
and it doesn't take much to heat up an aluminum crankarm so don't heat
it too long!
3. Use a vise. If you have a sturdy
bench vise, remove the crankarm(s) with the stuck pedal in it. Place the
crankarm in the vise with the pedal facing up and positioned so you can
get your pedal wrench on the axle flats (use soft vise jaws or wood blocks
to protect nice crankarms). With the vise holding the pedal, all your
force will be directed into the axle and greatly increase the chance that
you can remove the pedal.
4. Use a monkey wrench. If you're dealing with old-style
rubber pedals like the ones shown in the picture of the blue cruiser bike
above, and the pedals are old and worn out, you can bend and twist and
break the bodies off. This will leave only the pedal axles attached to
the crankarm. And, if you have a large monkey wrench you’ll be able
to grab the axles with enough purchase to turn them and remove the pedals
(the more you tug on a monkey wrench the tighter it grips what you’re
trying to turn). Using this technique I once removed a pedal someone had
welding into a crankarm!
One of the reasons pedals can be difficult to remove is lack of lubrication.
So, be sure to grease the pedal threads before installation.
Then look closely at the pedal axles or ends to see which side they belong
on. You should see a little R and L, (photo
below) for Right and Left. Note that French
pedals sometimes have D and G for Droit
Choose the appropriate pedal and start it into the correct crankarm by
hand turning the pedal axle toward the front of the bike (both pedals
thread in in this direction). If it wont start, dont force
it! Youre probably trying to install the left pedal on the right
side or vice versa.
Take your time and resist the temptation to force the pedals in. The pedals
have steel threads and the crankarms are usually aluminum. It’s
very easy to ruin the crankarm threads by forcing the wrong-side pedal
in. So, don’t force it. Crankarms are expensive!
both pedals into the crankarms as far as you can by hand. Then fully tighten
them with the pedal wrench. Its important to get pedals good and
snug so they cant loosen from pedal pressure (a loose pedal can
make a click or tick that drives you nuts
and is hard to find). Tightening sufficiently can be difficult with pedals
requiring an Allen wrench if you only have a short tool. For these, use
a cheater bar to ensure adequate tightness.