Changing mountain bike pedals is super quick and easy when you know the tips and tricks on how to do it. It’s all too easy to over tighten the pedal or even worst end up stripping the thread.
Knowing how to deal with common problems such as stuck pedals will make your life so much easier!
Almost all pedals these days will require a 6 or 8 mm allen key. It is also best practice to have some anti-seize grease to avoid the pedal seizing to the crank over time.
The longer the tool, the easier it will be to remove the pedal as you will be able to apply more torque on the pedal, particularly useful for stuck pedals.
How to Remove a Bike Pedal
A quick tip is that bike pedals actually have a thread rotating in different directions where the drivetrain (righthand side) side has a ‘normal’ thread, and the other side has a reverse thread. A handy trick that I like to use to save getting all confused on which way to turn the pedal is…
The Hand Grip Method
First, line the crank up so that it is pointing forward. Then place the allen key in the bolt so that the arm of the tool is pointing backward, in line with the crank, but so the arm is sitting slightly above the crank.
Then put the base of your palm on the allen key, wrap your fingers around both the crank. This allows you to use both your weight and hand strength to initially loosen the pedal.
I also find that it also stops the pedal from suddenly coming loose causing your hand to hit some other part of the bike, which is never pleasant!
If this doesn’t work, check out the tips and tricks of how to remove a stuck bike pedal at the end of this article.
Now you’ve got the pedal loose, the hard work is all done, simply unwind the pedal until it pops out and repeat on the other side. The trick of pointing the crank forward and lining the tool up with the crank works for both sides and ensures you turn the right way.
How to Install a Bike Pedal
Now that the pedals are off, its time to either put your new pedals on or reinstall the old ones. It’s an easy process, but there are a couple of things to watch out for to ensure that the pedals will be easy to take off again and not damage the threads.
Getting the Right Side
One of the most critical parts of installing a bike pedal is ensuring that the right pedal goes on the right side. Luckily this is super easy as almost all pedals will have an ‘L’ or ‘R’ marked on them, indicating which side of the bike they are for.
If they are not marked, you will have to look at the thread on the pedal and check whether it has a regular thread or a reverse thread. The right-hand side pedal threads will slope upwards and to the right, whereas the left-hand pedal thread will slope upwards and to the left.
Make sure you are certain which side of the bike the pedal is for as installing them on the wrong side could strip the thread on the pedal, and even worse, it can damage your crank.
If you do get it wrong check out our article on how to fix a stripped bike pedal thread.
Clean and Grease
To prevent the pedal from getting stuck in the future, it is important to both clean the crank and pedal thread. Once they are clean, apply a small amount of anti-seize grease to the pedal’s thread before installing it.
Attaching the Pedal
Now that you have determined which side the pedal is for and have cleaned and greased the thread, it is time to attach the pedal to the bike.
First, ensure that you line the pedal up correctly and that it doesn’t go crooked when you thread the pedal in.
If you feel any resistance when starting to thread the pedal, it is likely that the pedal will not go straight, and you need to unthread and start again. It is important not to force the pedal on at the beginning as this will strip the thread on the pedal, which will ruin the pedal.
Once the pedal is threading in smoothly, keep threading it in until it is all the way in.
How Tight Should it be?
The pedal should be reasonably tight, but you don’t want to put all your force behind it, as this will make getting it off again very tricky. Instead, you want to apply a good firm effort into the allen key or pedal wrench so that the pedal is solidly held in.
If you have a torque wrench most manufacturers recommend between 20-40 Nm.
How to Remove a Stuck Bike Pedal
If the handgrip method above doesn’t work and it appears that the world’s strongest human put the bike together, then there are a couple more tricks to get it unstuck.
First Penetrating Oil
First, it is best to spray some penetrating oil into the pedal where it is connected to the crank and leave it to soak in for the manufacturers recommended time. Usually, this is somewhere around 10 minutes. Be extra careful not to get any of the oil near the brakes.
Turn the Pedal the Right Way!
Next, make sure you turn the pedal the right way using the method of lining up the crank and the allen key or pedal spanner, as described above. There are now two ways to try and loosen the pedal, depending on what you have available.
Using Your Foot
An excellent place to start is setting up the same way as for the hand grip method, but instead of using your hands, you use your feet.
First, mount the bike and apply the brake, then using your foot give it all you’ve got by pushing down on the allen key or pedal wrench and hopefully the pedal frees!
Another method is to find a long hollow piece of metal or something similar that can be placed over the allen key or pedal wrench. If you can’t find a piece of pipe, the loop end of a spanner can be placed over the allen key to achieve the same result. This will give you more leverage over the pedal and should help you free the stuck pedal.
The Rubber Hammer
The other method involves using a rubber hammer and tapping the far end of the allen key or pedal wrench.
Be very careful not to put to much impact force through the bike from the rubber hammer.
The rubber hammer should help make up for the extra leverage and free the pedal allowing you to remove it.
Clean and Grease
To prevent the pedal from becoming stuck again, it is important to clean the threads and apply a small amount of anti-seize grease to the threads. This helps prevent the pedal from becoming stuck in the future.
If you find that your threads are looking a little worse for wear, then check out our article on how to fix a stripped pedal thread.
How to Adjust Cleat Tension
On all Shimano SPD pedals, there will be a bolt with a ‘+’ and ‘–’ indicated on each foot position. This means there will be two for a double-sided clip pedal and one for each pedal on a dual platform.
The first step is to wind all the adjusting bolts to as far to the – side as possible. Be careful not to force it past the endpoint.
Find the Correct Tension
The next step is to find the correct release tension for your riding style and ability. This is a personal preference; however, beginners will find it easier to have a lower release tension to make it easier to unclip. Check out our picks for the best beginner clipless pedals here.
There will be a noticeable mark every quarter turn, use this as a marker for how much you have tightened it. Getting it right is a trial and error process, start by turning the screw a quarter turn at a time and clipping in to check the tension. Keep doing this until you find the correct tension for you.
Final Sync Up
Then adjust all other release bolts to the same number of quarter turns to ensure they are all the same.
Just make sure that you take an allen key for the next ride only in case you need to make any adjustments on the go.
Once you change a bike pedal a couple of times, it will become second nature and super easy. The most important thing is to take your time and ensure you thread the pedal into the crank correctly.
Let us know if you have any other questions on bike pedals, we’ll be happy to answer!
For more on bike pedal thread sizes, check our article here.
For more on how to use clipless pedals, check out here.