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A Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing Bicycle Pedals

Author: Global Cycling NetworkTime: 2024-01-07 19:25:01

Table of Contents

Introduction to Removing and Replacing Bicycle Pedals

Replacing bicycle pedals may seem like a simple task, but it can easily lead to confusion if you don't know which way to turn the pedals. This blog post will walk through the complete process of removing old pedals and installing new ones, covering the basics of which tools you need, which way to turn the pedals, cleaning and greasing the parts, and step-by-step installation instructions.

By the end, you'll have the knowledge to confidently remove and replace pedals on your own bicycle.

Needed Tools

The main tool needed is a pedal wrench, which is specially shaped to grip bicycle pedals. These come in different sizes depending on the pedal type: If your pedals use an Allen key fitting (generally 8mm or 6mm), you'll need the appropriately sized Allen key. For basic pedals without special shapes, a 15mm wrench or spanner can be used.

Remembering Which Way to Turn

This is where confusion often comes in. The drive side (chainring side) and non-drive side pedals are threaded differently: Drive side pedals are threaded normally and unscrew anti-clockwise. Non-drive side pedals are reverse threaded and unscrew clockwise. An easy way to remember is that pedaling motion tightens the threads - so turning the pedals forward loosens them for removal.

Removing the Non-Drive Side Pedal

Start the pedal removal process with the non-drive side, as it tends to be easier:

Position the crank arm facing downwards.

Insert your Allen key or pedal wrench pointing towards the rear of the bike.

Hold the tool in place and turn the pedal clockwise to loosen.

Once loose, quickly spin the pedal off by hand or with your wrench.

Set this pedal aside in a safe place for later re-installation.

Removing the Drive Side Pedal

Now move to the drive side crank arm and pedal:

Position the drive side crank arm facing downwards.

Insert your pedal wrench or Allen key pointing backwards (towards the front of the bike).

Press down firmly on your wrench and turn the pedal anti-clockwise to loosen.

Once loosened, spin the pedal off with your wrench.

Set this pedal aside with the other one until needed.

Cleaning and Greasing New Pedals

Before installing any new pedals, proper cleaning and lubrication will help ensure smooth operation:

Use a wire brush or rag to thoroughly clean all grease, dirt and debris from the pedal threads and inside the crank arm threads where they will be threaded in.

Apply a high quality grease evenly across the threads on both the new pedals and inside the crank arm openings. This helps prevent seizing up.

The pedals are now prepped and ready for hassle-free installation.

Installing New Pedals

Drive Side Installation

Begin with the drive side for easiest access: Hand thread the greased drive side pedal into the crank arm opening clockwise to initially engage the threads straight. Use your Allen key on the other side of the crank to guide the pedal in straight by turning it anti-clockwise. Once fully threaded by hand, use your wrench for final tightening force downwards. Be mindful of hand positioning to avoid sharp chainrings.

Non-Drive Side Installation

Move to the non-drive side crank and greased pedal: Hand thread the non-drive pedal into the crank arm anti-clockwise to initially engage the threads straight. Use your Allen key on the other side, with it pointing forwards, and turn it clockwise to guide the pedal. Finish tightening forcefully downwards with your wrench. Double check that both pedals are securely tightened before riding.


With the right tools, understanding which way to turn the different threaded pedals, cleaning and lubricating, the process of removing old pedals and installing new ones is made much simpler.

Just follow along with the step-by-step instructions and soon you’ll have fresh pedals or the ability to swap pedals quickly for different riding conditions.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for pedal removal and installation!


Q: What tools do I need to replace bicycle pedals?
A: You'll need either a pedal wrench, Allen key (usually 8mm) or 15mm wrench, depending on your pedal type.

Q: Why is one pedal threaded differently than the other?
A: The threading causes the pedals to tighten rather than loosen as you pedal - otherwise they would unscrew as you ride.

Q: How can I remember which way to turn the pedals when removing them?
A: A good trick is to turn the pedals and crank arms as if pedaling while holding the wrench - this shows you which way loosens the pedals.

Q: Should I grease new pedal threads before installing them?
A: Yes, you should clean pedal and crank arm threads, then apply high quality grease before installation.

Q: How tight should I install new pedals?
A: Tighten firmly with pedal wrench or Allen key until adequately tight - be careful to keep hands clear of sharp chainrings.

Q: How can I determine left vs right pedals?
A: Pedals are often marked with L and R on the inside pedal shaft to indicate left and right.

Q: What if I can't get my pedals loose?
A: Make sure you are turning them the correct way per above. If still stuck, apply penetrating oil and use a breaker bar for extra leverage.

Q: Can I ride my bike with loose pedals?
A: No, loose pedals can completely unthread as you ride, causing a crash hazard - always fully tighten pedals.

Q: What type of grease should I use on pedal threads?
A: High quality waterproof grease designed specifically for bicycle threads.

Q: How often should I service my pedals?
A: Annually, or any time pedals become loose or difficult to turn smoothly.