Knowing how to remove bike pedals is a skill all cyclists should have.
You may think it’s an easy job (and it can be!), but there’s still a method to be followed to get it right.
There are a few reasons why you might want to remove your bike’s pedals. You may want to swap your flats for clipless, service them, or pack your bike in a bike box for shipping.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through:
- What Tools Do You Need To Remove Bike Pedals?
- Left-Hand And Right-Hand Pedals
- How To Remove Bike Pedals In 2 Steps
- How To Fit Pedals On Your Bike In 2 Steps
- Robbie’s Video Walk-Through: How To Remove Bike Pedals
Let’s get started!
What Tools Do You Need To Remove Bike Pedals?
The great thing about removing bike pedals is that you don’t need much in the way of tools to get the job done.
Most bike pedals require a 15mm wrench or an 8mm Allen key. You may find that a dedicated pedal wrench or an 8mm hex wrench will make removing the pedals easier, but it should still be manageable with generic tools.
If your pedals have flat parallel faces on the spindle between the pedal body and the crank, you’ll need a 15mm wrench. As long as your wrench isn’t too fat, you should be able to get it around the flats on the spindle. If not, you’ll need a thinner one – like a proper pedal wrench.
Some pedals have a hexagonal socket on the end of the spindle.
In this case, you’ll need an Allen key/hex wrench to remove the pedals. It is likely to be an 8mm socket, but some older pedals will require a 6mm Allen key.
A long Allen key or T-shaped hex key is best for removing bike pedals. This is because you get more leverage and won’t bash your knuckles on the chainring.
You may have bike pedals that use large locking nuts next to the flats. This is something you find on more expensive pedals from Shimano. These nuts can be loosened off so you can get to the internal workings of the pedal to service it.
If your bike is very old, it may be fitted with pedals with 9/16-inch flats. It is unlikely that you will come across this size, but if you do a 15mm wrench will probably do the trick (9/16 in = 14.28 mm).
Left-Hand And Right-Hand Pedals
Each pedal has different threads, so you need to know the difference between them. This is so you to turn them the correct way to remove the pedals.
We always refer to the right-hand side of the bike as the driveside. This is the side where the gears are fitted.
Therefore, the left-hand side of the bike without the gears is the non-driveside.
The pedal that goes on the driveside has a standard thread, so you tighten it by turning the spindle clockwise and anticlockwise to loosen it.
Non-driveside pedals always have reverse threads. So to tighten the left-hand pedal, you need to turn it anticlockwise and turn it clockwise to loosen it.
You’ll find that pretty much every bike pedal is marked for the side it’s meant to be on. It will usually be stamped with an L or an R, either on the pedal or wrench flats.
Some pedals have a textured section on the wrench flats to indicate that this is the left-hand pedal.
If your pedals are not marked, you’ll need to inspect the thread to see which way they turn. The right-hand pedal’s thread will angle upwards to the right and the left pedal’s thread up towards the left.
How To Remove Bike Pedals In 2 Steps
Before following any of these steps, make sure your bike is secure either on a bike stand or with someone holding it for you. It’s much easier to remove bike pedals when the bike is stable.
Step 1: Remove The Driveside Pedal
Spin your cranks so the right-hand pedal is at the 3 o’clock position towards your front wheel.
If you’re using a wrench to remove the pedal, place it onto the flats pointing towards the rear wheel. Likewise, if you’re using a hex key, point the long section rearward.
When your tool is secure, push down on it while holding the opposite crank. You may need to use lots of force to loosen the pedal before unscrewing it fully.
The pedal may need more force if it hasn’t been removed for a while or wasn’t greased when fitted. If you need more leverage, fit a pipe over the tool (or something else that will extend it) to help you turn it.
Not everyone has a well-stocked tool kit, so if you’re struggling to get the pedal to turn, put the bike on the ground with someone holding it. This will allow you to use your foot to put more pressure on the tool.
If you do it this way, ensure that your Allen key or wrench is securely fitted before putting your weight on it.
You may need to brace the cranks if you cannot keep them still while trying to loosen the pedal. You can do this by putting a broomstick or piece of wood between the crank and the frame.
If bracing the cranks, be extra careful not to damage the frame. This is not recommended if your bike has a carbon frame.
Alternatively, prop your bike up with the opposite pedal on a curb. This will stop the cranks from rotating as you apply pressure.
Step 2: Removing The Non-Driveside Pedal
Go to the left-hand side of your bike and point the crank in the nine o’clock position towards the front wheel. All you need to do is repeat what you did on the other side, starting with your tool pointing towards the rear wheel.
How To Fit Pedals On Your Bike In 3 Steps
Step 1: Clean And Grease The Threads
Now you need to put some pedals back onto your bike. But before you do so, make sure you thoroughly clean the threads on both the crank and the pedals. Then apply a dab of grease or anti-seize to the threads on the pedal axle.
The threads will become damaged if you put the pedals back on with dirt in them or without grease. It will make them incredibly difficult or impossible to remove the next time you need to do it. If the threads are beyond repair, you may need to buy new pedals and cranks.
If you don’t have any grease or anti-seize, wait until you have some before putting the pedals back on. Don’t use other lubricants like chain lube, as it won’t last long or be as effective.
Step 2: Fit The Driveside Pedal
Make sure you’ve picked up the correct pedal by looking at the thread or label. Remember that the driveside pedal’s thread will angle upwards to the right and screw in clockwise. This step is vital, as you don’t want to damage the thread in the crank.
Now your right-hand pedal’s thread is clean and greased, start to screw the pedal into the crank by hand. Turn the axle clockwise until it’s screwed all the way in.
Then tighten the pedal with your Allen key or wrench, but don’t overdo it. The pedal just needs to be “wrist tight” and firmly butted up to the crank.
Step 3: Fit The Non-Driveside Pedal
To fit the pedal on the other side of the bike, you use the same process as above. The only difference is, is that the pedal has a reverse thread. Therefore, you tighten the left-hand pedal by turning the spindle anticlockwise.
Before you start to screw the pedal into the crank, make sure that the threads are clean and greased. Remember to tighten the pedal with your tool, but not too much. You will have to take it off again at some point.
Once you’ve fitted the pedals, wipe off any excess grease from the crank, and you’re ready to ride!
Now You Know How To Remove Bike Pedals!
As you can see, learning how to remove bike pedals isn’t too complicated once you’ve got the hang of it!
There are two main points to keep in mind. The first is the direction of the threads, and the second is that the threads need to be clean before replacing the pedals.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to remove and re-fit your bike pedals without too much bother!
Robbie’s Video Maintenance Guide: How To Remove Bike Pedals
Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!