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How To Remove Bike Pedals In Less Than 5 Minutes!

Amy L
April 24, 2021

Removing your old bicycle pedals can seem that a workout in itself and one I haven't always won...until I found out the right way to go about it!

Part of the problem comes from the fact that 'righty tighty, lefty loosey' doesn't necessarily apply and I feel like that's been ingrained in us so why won't it work?

Before we dive into answering that, I want to show you what I'll be covering in this guide:

  • Why are bicycle pedals difficult to remove - have your hex wrench at the ready!
  • How to remove bike pedals - pedal wrench or hex wrench will be needed!
  • Ongoing pedal maintenance - bet you didn't think you'd be looking after your pedals, did you?

Alright, so back to the difficulty in removing pedals!

Why Are Bicycle Pedals So Difficult To Remove?

If your pedal turned the same way then you'd soon run into difficulties (as explained in the introduction).

As you are spinning your legs, you would be always tightening the pedal threads. As you can imagine after racking up hundreds of miles, your pedals would be tightened on so well they're going to be a nightmare to remove!

So whether you want your pedals off to pack your bike up to go traveling or you're treating yourself to some new bike pedals, you'll want to check out these tips to make the job easy!

Close look of a bicycle pedal

How To Remove Bike Pedals

Step 1: Get Your Chainring Into The Big Ring

This is all about protecting your knuckles.

Before you get the spanner or torque wrench out, pop your chain onto the big ring.

Basically, what this will do is help to prevent the chain from slipping. When a chain slips, most of the time, rather than it hitting the wrench, your knuckles or fingers suffer. It's not nice so a worthwhile step to take!

Whilst most bicycle maintenance jobs are best carried out with the bike in the air on a bike stand, a pedal removal job isn't one of those.

You should find it easier to remove both the right and left pedals with the bike simply resting the right way up on the ground and using a wrench.

Step 2: Crank arm position

You should start on the drive side and get the crank arm in the 3 o'clock position. You should find that this will be parallel to the ground.

The majority of bike pedals can be loosened with a hex wrench. Take a look at the back of yours and you will be able to see if yours is that type of pedal.

If so...

Pop a correctly sized alloy key in at the back of the pedal. You want it to sit below the level of the crank arm.

What you will find is that you're probably going to need to use reasonable force to make anything turn. When you're ready to turn, push the Allen key downwards and in a forward direction - this should be anticlockwise.

If your pedal can't be removed with a key, then you may need to use a pedal wrench or torque wrench -removing each pedal is simple with this method too and you just need to ensure you turn the crank at the correct angle.

Step 3: Loosening The Bike Pedal

Alright so hopefully the thread on the pedal will have moved.

Flip your bike to the other side. For this, the crank arm should be placed into the 9 o'clock position.

Do as you did in step 2. Take the Allen key (or wrench) and push it downwards and forwards. What you are looking to do, is turn the pedal clockwise this time - it's important to get the angle right so as not to apply too much pressure on the spindles.

Bingo, as the threads loosen, you should be able to easily spin the bike pedal off now.

If there are any washers that come out when you remove the pedal, do keep them as you are going to want to use them when it comes to pedal installation.

Focus photo of bicycle derailleur

Step 4: Clean The Crank Arm And Threads - Inspect For Damage

Now that you have removed the pedals, you should spend a bit of time and work, cleaning and giving the crank arm and threads a bit of a once over on either side - make sure there are no signs of damage.

If you see any signs that the crankset may be worn, it's a great time to get a mechanic from a bike shop to take a look. A quick inspection using a tapping tool is all they'll need.

I'd certainly recommend this step, though it can be tempting to skip the work and just pop the new pedals on straight away and go for a ride.

If it was difficult to remove pedals then this step is particularly important as you could have weakened the cranks in the pedal removal process or simply by taking your bike out for a ride. The spindles may be more worn than they should be and this process helps you to identify if that's the case.

Step 5: Bike Grease

Once you are happy with the spindle threads then it's time to apply some bike grease or anti-seize.

Depending on how successful you were at removing the right and left pedals, you'll understand the importance of lubricant - especially on the threads.

Basically, ensuring you apply some bike grease will help to remove the possibility of your pedals squeaking under-foot while you're riding. Let me tell you, once you notice the squeak, you're never going to unhear it!

Also putting lubricant on it is a way to make sure the next time you come to remove bike pedals, the threads shouldn't put up too much of a fight!

Another little tip is to apply some grease to the bearings and axle too.

Step 6: Attaching The New Pedals

On the pedals, there will be markings that show you which one is the right pedal and which one is the left pedal.

If you have any washers, now is the time to pop them back on either side.

Take each pedal and thread it onto the crank arms. Unlike removing the bike pedals, this should be done gently. With clean spindles, this should be easy work, just screw them back in place. Initially using your hands but then progressing to a wrench.

To get the pedals to tighten all you have to do is turn each pedal towards the front of your bike and the pedal threads will do their thing.

If you want to make sure you're on track, the right pedal should be turned clockwise and the left pedal, anticlockwise.

Use your hex wrench or standard wrench to get the pedal threads secure.

GCN provides a nice video...just here!

How To Look After Your Bike Pedals

If you think about what pedals are used for, they have a pretty hard life.

We drag them through mud, dirt, sometimes they make contact with rocks and we just expect the humble pedal to be ok with all of that...usually, it is to be fair!

Yet I would recommend looking after your pedals so you aren't replacing more than you should and in this guide, I will give you a few instructions on how to do that!

Don't neglect your pedals when you're cleaning your bike.

A quick rinse won't cut it. It's easy to miss mud or dust this way and that increases friction. Particularly in the spindle threads and crank arms.

Why is that bad?

It's going to increase the wear of your pedals over time.

Now with what I've said you might be thinking a pressure washer will be great. I'm not going to deny that it will clean the pedals quickly. However, the negative side is that the pressure of water is so great that the mud and dust can end up inside the bearings. I don't need to tell you why that's not a good thing.

Your best bet is to take things slowly and not use much force. After all, these are small, yet essential parts of your bike!

Another point you need to keep in mind is that you don't want to have water running over the pedals for too long. The reason being is that too much water can get into the cranks, chainring, etc., and remove the grease.

Over time this can lead to crank arms, bolts, etc. becoming exposed to rust and corrosion.

Ideally, what you need to do is use the water to soften the mud and dust. Once they're softened, use a cloth to clean. Take this as an opportunity to check out each pedal for signs of wear and tear.

For those of you who ride clipless, you have a bit of extra work (worth it though, isn't it?).

Make sure to care for your cleats. If you are finding that you're slipping out of your pedals more than you should be then it could be a sign that your cleats need replacing. This isn't something I mess around with. Cleats aren't expensive and they keep you attached to your pedals so they're worth the expense in my opinion!

Another thing to keep an eye on is the bearings and springs on the pedals. This area does need some attention from time to time. What happens is that the grease can thin with use so it would benefit from a top over every now and then to ensure your bike stays in good condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove Allen wrench bike pedals?

Pedals, how to remove them with a hex wrench?

I do address this above but if you like live of the visual side of life then here's a visual guide, here's one from a pro bike mechanic!

Are Pedals Universal?

Pedals aren't universal. Quite the opposite actually!

The differences appear in the pedal sizes. Some are 9/16" and 1/2".

Kids bikes also get their own sized pedals!

You should find that the 9/16" pedals are used more often than the 1/2" pedals but both are very much about!

What Is A Crankarm?

A crankarm is the levers where your pedals attach to. Your bottom brack holds the bearings in place and the axle is also attached to the crankarm.

Final Thoughts

Getting the right leverage and angle is important when removing pedals. Knowing which way to turn the right pedal and left pedal spindle is also important too.

Though one thing I'd highly recommend is looking after your pedals throughout the year so when it does come to removing the pedal, the threads won't be so stuck and that spindle will move just how you want it to. It also means your pedals will last longer so a huge advantage!

After some more cycling tips?

Amy L
About the Author
I'm Amy, A writer and when I'm not writing, I'm usually found on two wheels! I own several bikes; my favourite has to be my faithful Bianchi Infinito CV. We've been through a lot together - we've even been to Paris together...twice!. My first carbon bike. My first love. Cycling is my passion and climbing is my thing, so if there's a climb out there you think I should know about - let me know!
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