Ask a Mechanic: How To Install and Remove Pedals

Esteban wants to know, “ I always have trouble remembering which way to turn my pedals if I’m putting them on or taking them off. Can you offer some clarification?”

Whether it’s your first time changing pedals or you’ve done it a thousand times, remembering which way the pedals thread onto each crank can be a tough thing to remember.

The drive side pedal is regular threaded, so righty-tighty lefty-loosey. The non-drive side pedal is reverse threaded, so it’s the opposite, left to tighten and right to loosen the pedal. An easy way to remember which way to turn them is to remember when you’re putting the pedals on the bike, no matter which pedal, you will turn the wrench toward the front of the bike. For removing the pedals it’s the opposite; you’ll always turn the wrench toward the back of the bike.

Some pedals have wrench flats on them so you can use a pedal wrench, which has 15mm flats, while other pedals require either a 6 or 8mm allen wrench to remove or install. It’s typically easier to use a pedal wrench, so if your pedals have both I recommend the pedal wrench as you can usually get more leverage than you would be able to with an allen wrench.

Before installing pedals on your bike, be sure to grease the threads to help prevent a stuck pedal. If your’e using a pedal wrench, start the threads by hand and then put the wrench on the pedals and spin the crank backward until the pedal makes contact with the crank arm. If you’re using an allen you’ll have to spin them on by hand.

You don’t need to make your pedals crazy tight. Just snug them up to the crank arm and then give them another ¼ turn or so. When tightening the pedals I find it’s easiest to have the crank arm pointed backwards in roughly the 10 o’clock position or 2 o’clock position depending on which pedal it is. For removing the pedals I have the wrench in pretty much the same position and will reach over the bike to hold the opposite crank arm, and pull up on the pedal wrench to break them free.

You always want to be aware of where the chainring is in relation to where your hand will go when the pedal breaks free. We’ve all heard the horror stories of busted knuckles from people driving their hand into chainrings trying to break their pedals free. Which reminds me; it’s always a good idea to have the chain on the largest chainring for a little protection just in case that happens. Once the pedals are broken free you can pedal the bike forward if you’re using a stand to get them the rest of the way off. Otherwise just spin them out of the crank.

That’s all there is to it, remember to use grease on the threads, and watch out for those chainrings when removing your pedals.