​How Can I Install Bike Pedals

How Can I Install Bike Pedals

As you power your way up that hill, you quietly think to yourself “I hope my pedals keep doing what they are doing and hold my bodyweight”. Our bike pedals take a lot of punishment and although they are relatively small, they are built extremely strong.

Over time though, they will eventually start to wear out and when that time comes, you will need to have a basic understanding of how to repair bikes; more specifically how to replace or install your bike pedals. If you have every thought “how can I install bike pedals” then this info is for you.

Primary Function – Power Transfer

The primary purpose of your pedals is to transfer power from your legs to your drive train (i.e. chain and gears). One of the other purposes though that most people don’t think about is weight and balance transfer. When you are taking a corner at high speed or floating over some bumps in the road, you use your pedal positions to help you with that task (a lot of times without even thinking about it).

Many Types for Many Purposes

The picture below shows 3 different types of pedals (from left to right- platform, mountain bike clipless and road clipless). The typical pedal that most people will be familiar with is the platform pedal. These are the usual entry level pedals that you see on most bikes.

When you start to get a bit more serious about your riding, you will probably want to go with the clipless style pedals. These types of pedals though also require special cycling shoes. On the bottom of these shoes is something called a “cleat”. The cleat’s sole purpose is to attach your foot to your pedals.

The typical question that most new bike riders have is “why would I want to have my shoes locked onto my bike and what if I crash”? Yes, your shoes are attached to your pedals while you ride but are easily released when you stop or if you are unfortunate enough to crash. The main reason that cyclists upgrade to the clipless style pedal is for efficiency purposes.

Clipless Are More Efficient

With a platform pedal, the only way to transfer power to your drive train is on your downward leg stroke. Your upward leg stroke is doing nothing but waiting its turn to start its power down stroke. With clipless pedals though, both your legs are working all the time; your upward leg is actually able to help lift the pedals as your downward leg pushes the other one down. This is extremely helpful in situations where you require a lot of power (i.e. climbing hills or sprinting).

It is for this reason alone, that you should try and learn the basics of how to repair bikes and upgrade your pedals. You will leave your buddies in a cloud of dust if you do so!

How Can I Install Bike Pedals – Removing and Replacing Your Old Pedals

Even if you choose not to upgrade your pedals, there may come a time when you need to replace your current ones. Over time, dirt and grit can contaminate your pedal bearings and require them to be replaced. When this happens, you need to know how to install bike pedals properly because you will want to avoid this one little mistake that a lot of people have made and it is a costly one.

Growing up I learned a little saying that has helped me know how to tighten and loosen nuts, bolts and screws. The saying goes like this “lefty loosey, righty tighty”. Whenever I wanted to loosen a nut, I would turn it to the left and to tighten it back up I would turn to the right; pretty simple. This works for most types of jobs but it doesn’t work for bike pedals. Let’s see why.

Pedal Physics

To remove your pedals (depending on your pedal type), you will either require a pedal wrench or a hex key (see hex key picture below). To remove the right hand side pedal, you simply attach your wrench or hex key and turn to the left (i.e. counter clockwise). The right hand side is intuitive but don’t try this with your left hand pedal or you will have problems. The left side pedal is always going to be reverse threaded because it if weren’t, the action of pedalling your bike would constantly try to loosen it up. To remove the left side pedal, you loosen it by turning the wrench or hex key to the right (or clockwise).

The question then arises, “how do I know which pedal goes on which side”? Your left and right pedals will always have some type of marker on them (typically an L and an R or a groove embedded on the left pedal) just above the threads. Unfortunately, there have been many examples of people trying to thread the left side pedal as they would normally and in doing so have cross threaded their crank arms. When this happens, the only fix is to replace the crank arms (ouch), which aren’t cheap.

​Pedals Replaced Time to Ride

​Luckily bike pedal maintenance and replacement does not require you to know all there is to know about how to repair bikes, but it does require you to know some of the basics. These basics though, are easy to learn and could come in handy if you ever get stranded on the road with a malfunctioning bike. Now that you know this information, you will no longer have to ask yourself, “how do I install bike pedals” again.

​It is at times like these that you will give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Now get on out there for a nice relaxing bike ride!

Pedals Replaced Time to Ride
Robert Flaherty

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