Removing or installing bike pedals is seemingly a simple process, but the bike becomes useless if you do one even thing wrong. Therefore, it is extremely important that when you remove and reattach pedals to a bike, you do it correctly.
Moreover, whether you are a frequent biker or not, you will eventually have to remove and reinsert bike pedals sooner or later – it is an inescapable phenomenon. However, we also know that for some, this phenomenon might be infrequent.
However, for people who use their bike regularly or like swapping pedals between bikes, learning how to remove pedals from bikes is indeed a process worth mastering.
In this blog post, we will be sharing a simple method to remove bike pedals from a bike that works well for both standard flat pedals and clipless pedals.
So, without any more delay, let’s get started!
Before You Begin
We know it might sound a bit contradictory, but the first step towards successfully removing bike pedals is to install them correctly. When mounting bike pedals for the first time, many amateur cyclists make the mistake of heading to town to get them tightened up. But what if we tell you they do not need to.
If you closely look at the way bike pedals are threaded, you would notice two things:
- Each bike pedal is threaded oppositely. Meaning, each pedal is tightened by rotating it in a reverse direction, for example, clockwise for the right pedal and anticlockwise for the left.
- Moreover, both of them tighten in the same manner you turn the cranks while pedaling.
Put simply, pedaling the bike would tighten the pedals. Thus, there is no need to tighten them up excessively during the installation process. We recommend you tighten the pedals till the thread goes all the way in, and afterward, simply give them another gentle push to ensure they are fittingly locked and secured. That’s all you really need.
On the other hand, when it comes to removing bike pedals, a major determining factor in how easy the process will be is linked to how long the pedals have been installed. Please note that if you have not removed the pedals from your bike in a very long time, the entering removing process can end up being a real struggle. Therefore, it is always advised to periodically detach the bike’s pedals, give them a good clean, and reattach correctly.
In a nutshell, before you begin removing the pedals, the first thing to keep in mind is that the pedals of the bike are oppositely threaded.
Keep reading on if you’d like to know the major differences between left and right pedals and learn how to distinguish between both. If you already know this, skip straight to the “How to Remove Pedals from Bike” section.
Right vs. Left Pedals: Differences & How to Tell them Apart
As explained earlier, right and left bike pedals have different threads, and making sure you fit the correct pedal to your bike’s each side is very important. Therefore, before proceeding to the actual removal process, we feel it’s paramount to clarify the difference between both:
|Right-side Pedal||Left-side Pedal|
|Also called drive side||Also called non-drive side|
|This side has gears on it||The side has no gears|
|Drive side bike pedals are always standard-threaded. Meaning, they get loose when the spindle is rotated anticlockwise and tighten up when it is rotated clockwise||Non-drive side bike pedals are always reverse-threaded. Meaning, they get loose when the spindle is rotated clockwise and tighten up when it is rotated anticlockwise|
If the above-provided information is not enough for you to distinguish between right and left pedals, do not worry. Lucky for you, every bike pedal comes marked in some way to specify whether it’s for the right side or left. At its simplest, the alphabets “R” or “L” will be stamped on the spindle’s end. Moreover, the same is sometimes also stamped on a pedal’s wrench flat or printed onto the pedal’s body.
In case your bike pedal does not have the labeled stamp, it might instead have a textured spot next to the wrench flats to show it’s the left-side pedal. If the pedal does not have this either, we suggest you closely view the threads of the pedal spindle:
- As the left-side pedal is reverse-threaded, the threads would appear to angle upwards towards the left side.
- As the right-side pedal is standard-threaded, the threads would appear to angle upwards towards the right side.
Now that the distinction between the right- and left-side pedals are resolved, let’s get to the main topic at hand.
What You’ll Need
Following are the things and tools you will need to remove the pedals from your bike:
- Spanner or pedal wrench (specialty tools needed for pedal removal)
- 15mm spanner or wrench
- 6mm or 8mm Allen or Hex Key
Although a 15mm open-ended spanner might work in taking off the pedal, a bike pedal wrench can provide you a slimmer width to fit on the typically tiny gap. In addition to this, leverage is another reason to use a wrench. Bike-specific hex keys and pedal wrenches usually have longer levers that can greatly help in the process of free tightening pedals.
Note: Some bike pedals have a ‘wrench flat’ – a flat surface on the spindle’s top and bottom for a wrench to easily fit onto – but some pedals don’t have these flat surfaces. They are instead furnished with a Hex Key fitting in the spindle, necessitating the use of a 6mm or 8mm Allen Key in order to detach and reattach pedals to the bike.
How to Remove Pedals from Bike (Non-Drive Side)?
Before you begin detaching pedals from your bike, be sure to move the bike chain into the big chainring. Doing this would prevent the large chainring’s teeth from hurting your hands in case of an accident or improper hand positioning.
If you use an Allen Key:
In case you decide to use an Allen Key for the pedal removal process, you will have to first approach the Hex fitting from the inner side of the crank arm. For this, begin by positioning the short arm of the Allen Key into the Hex fitting; this should allow you to build leverage with the long arm.
Next, set the Allen Key into position with the crank arm at six o’clock (should be facing downwards to the ground). Position it at ninety degrees to the crank arm at three o’clock (facing the bike’s back). Be sure to hold the bike pedal still and thrust in a clockwise direction till the pedal becomes loose.
If you use a Pedal Wrench:
In case you decide to use a pedal wrench for the removal process, you’d be able to approach the pedal spindle’s wrench flat area from the outer side of the crank arm. Begin by positioning the pedal wrench on the pedal spindle with the crank arm at nine o’clock (facing the bike’s front) and the pedal wrench at three o’clock (facing the bike’s back). Be sure to hold the bike pedal still and thrust down on the wrench in a clockwise motion till the pedal becomes loose.
In both cases, once your bike pedals have been loosened up, be sure to keep moving the pedal in the same direction till it fully comes off.
Tip: A great way to remember which way the bike pedals come off is to think that the Pedal Wrench or Allen Key move in the reverse direction of the standard pedaling action.
How to Remove Pedals from Bike (Drive Side)?
Now that you know how to remove pedals from the non-drive side, let’s see how the same thing can be done from the drive’s side:
If you use an Allen Key:
The same pedal removal process (as explained for the non-drive side) applies when detaching bike pedals from the drive side. However, as explained earlier in the article, this time, you would rotate the pedals in a clockwise motion.
Begin by setting the Allen Key into position with the crank arm at six o’clock (should be facing downwards to the ground). Next, position it at ninety degrees to the crank arm at three o’clock (facing the bike’s back). Be sure to hold the bike pedal still and thrust in an anticlockwise direction on the Allen Key till the pedal becomes loose.
If you use a Pedal Wrench:
The same pedal removal process (as explained for the non-drive side) applies when detaching bike pedals from the drive side with a Pedal Wrench.
Begin by positioning the pedal wrench on the pedal spindle with the crank arm at nine o’clock (facing the bike’s front) and the pedal wrench at three o’clock (facing the bike’s back). Be sure to hold the bike pedal still and thrust down on the wrench in an anticlockwise motion till the pedal becomes loose.
Reattaching Your Bike Pedals
Now that you have removed the pedals, we feel it is an excellent idea to clean and grease the thread and the inside of the cranks before you reattach the pedals. Remove any moisture, grime, and/or dirt with a clean, soft fabric or towel before replacing the bike pedals.
Once the inside of the crank arm and threads of the pedal are sufficiently dried and cleaned, do not forget to apply some grease or any other kind of anti-cease compound on the crank arms threads and the pedals.
Doing this ensures that the pedal does not get stuck into a position, making it impossible to detach in the future. In addition, greasing and lubrication can also make it easier for you to tighten your bike pedals into position.
Here are some other considerations that can help you throughout the pedal removal process:
- As we said above, once the pedals are reinstalled, you don’t need to tighten them up. But we are sure you must be wondering how hard is too tight? After all, it can be a bit difficult to tell exactly how tight bike pedals should be from reading. So, here is the answer: three-hundred and sixty inch-pounds of torque is the usual measurement for bike pedals. This equals around twelve to fifteen kilograms of force applied against a Pedal Wrench. Therefore, try to get the pedals of your bike as tight as possible but without putting your entire body weight onto it. Instead, arm tight should be perfectly fine.
- In case you have carbon crank arms, it’s better to keep a washer between the pedal and the crank arm. Doing this would ensure that the pedal spindle doesn’t tighten into the crank arm.
- Another thing to remember is that just like every other part of your bike, pedals require servicing as well. Servicing your bike pedals would ensure they’re smooth and working optimally. Hence, make a mental note to get them checked every six to twelve months. This would also be an excellent reminder to take them off and give them good grease.
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It is true that bike pedals can be hard to remove for a number of reasons, such as corrosive weather conditions like rain or road salt, lack of grease on the spindles, or simply excessive tightening in the first place.
Just keep in mind to rotate the Pedal Wrench or Alley Key in the correct direction (to loosen the pedal from the drive side, turn it anticlockwise; to loosen it from the non-drive, turn it clockwise).
In case the pedals are stuck due to any corrosive material, you can apply some grease or spray a good quality lubricant to it. Doing this will loosen any corrosive material stuck in the pedals and will also give you some extra leverage.
It is crucial to remember that removing bike pedals is part of the entire biking experience – you will have to do it sooner or later, no matter how infrequent of a rider you are. Therefore, it is best to master this process ahead of time.
I am Michael, an avid rider and bike expert. I am here to provide, biking tips and expert advice on in-depth bike reviews covering features, capabilities, price range, and much more. Specially on electric bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, etc. I will provide honest product reviews, along with expert advice on purchasing, training, and maintenance. Check out my complete profile.