Removing Bike Pedals – Direction Matters
So for most of us, the bike season has pretty much come to an end given all the white stuff on the ground and the cold temperatures outside (although I did see a dude riding today – I respect him immensely).
I do a lot of hard riding usually in muddy conditions. I decided to upgrade my pedals this year and go from the traditional “box store” type of black plastic pedals to more specialized pedals that require bike shoes as well. It took a lot of coaxing but I made the big leap into the world of bike pedals and bike shoes (cleats and all).
To see each of the different types of pedals that come on bikes, you can read the article “how can I install bike pedals“.
I was a bit nervous because, yes, these pedals lock your feet right onto your pedals. I was told that it would make a huge difference in how much power I could transfer from my legs to the bike. The difference however would come later; the first task was to get used to the feeling of being attached to the bike.
I was warned that I would probably fall off the bike at least once while trying to stop but at the same time trying to get my shoes unlocked from the pedal. Slow speed falls are actually quite funny to watch because they are almost done in slow motion (and usually occur around a lot of very amused spectators).
Anyways, I did get used to the pedals and now I cannot imagine riding a bike with the old style pedals anymore. My local bike shop told me that I should probably remove the pedals at the end of each season to inspect them and also give them a good cleaning. I thought that it was probably a good idea to do just that so just last weekend I decided to remove them (this is where my troubles really started).
Little did I know that the left pedal and the right pedal unscrew in opposite directions (the right one loosens clockwise and the left loosens counter clockwise – not intuitive). The left one came off quite easily but the right one did not. The main reason was that I forgot all about the opposite loosening direction for the right pedal. I was actually tightening it even though I thought I was loosening it. I even used a pipe wrench (please don’t do this) to get max torque.
The answer to my problems did finally come to me, but only after I had significantly damage my crank arm (at least I thought). I finally gave up and brought the bike into my local bike shop so that they could try and salvage my crank arm, if possible. In the end, after removing the pedal in the proper direction, they were able to re-tap my crank arm. I did some reading when I got home and sure enough I did get lucky. Bicycling.com had a maintenance tip for flattened threads. They use a 9/16th inch by 20 tpi (threads per inch) tap and re shape the threads (as long as the damage is light enough to allow it).
I learned a hard lesson but it is one that I won’t forget because it almost cost me an expensive crank arm. You live and you learn.
Surely, I’m not the only one that has done this with their pedals? Let me know of some of your pedal predicaments. We can all have a laugh while we also learn what not to do!