How to Remove Bike Pedals

Table of Contents

Did the pedals on your bike break, and now you need to replace them? Or perhaps you want to change your current bike pedals with something new.

Either way, knowing how to remove bike pedals is essential if you’re a frequent biker.

However, although it may seem like a no-brainer, it certainly isn’t—the first time I tried, I got the pedals stuck.

To help you dodge my mistake, I’ve completed a ‘how-to’ guide with all the tips and tricks you need to know. So let’s get pedaling.

Here’s a quick overview of how to remove bike pedals:

  • Understand the directions.
  • Secure your bike.
  • Rotate the crank.
  • Loosen the left side.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Clean up.
  • Apply grease.

How to Remove Bike Pedals

How to Remove Bike Pedals: Step-by-Step Guide

Removing bike pedals is a straightforward procedure on paper—there are only a few steps to take. However, if you aren’t careful, you could quickly injure yourself or the bike.

Which tools the job requires depends on the type of pedals on your bike:

  • Allen-key wrench: For pedals with sockets, you need an Allen-key wrench. With this type, use a 6-millimeter socket.
  • Pedal wrench: For pedals with flats, you should use a 15-millimeter pedal wrench.
  • Grease: To reduce friction, you need some lubricant. This can be any standard bike grease or penetrating oil. It enhances mobility around some of the moving parts that may be stuck.
  • Cloth: You’ll use this to clean out the thread after you’ve removed the pedal.

Step 1: Understand the Directions

Before we begin meddling with tools, it’s imperative to know which direction is right to unscrew the pedals. This is often a cause of frustration and confusion mainly because the usual ‘righty-tighty, lefty-loosey’ rule of life doesn’t apply to bikes.

The issue is that the right and left pedals have opposite threads. So although the right side comes with a regular right-handed line, the left includes a left-handed thread.

However, to confuse this further, it’s usually the side of the drivetrain that turns clockwise and the other that goes anti-clockwise.

Fortunately, if you’re unsure, you can check this by inserting your tool and turning it in both directions. When it begins to loosen, you know it’s the right way.

Even though this sounds like a scheme to confuse riders, it’s actually this way to prevent the left side from tightening too much as you ride. Otherwise, it would become almost impossible to get off and perhaps even to pedal.

Step 2: Secure Your Bike

Next up, it’s time to secure your bike—you don’t want it falling over while you remove the pedals.

Securing your bike is easy. You can prop it up or use a bike repair stand for better access. However, ensure that your bicycle remains steady.

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Step 3: Rotate the Crank

Once your bicycle is steady, check what type of wrench to use. If you already know which one, simply skip this step.

Rotate the crank so that one of the pedals is in an upright position. Then look at the connections to see whether your bike has spindle flats or sockets.

Step 4: Loosen the Left Side

Now it’s time to loosen the pedals. Begin on the left side where the drivetrain should be.

Place your crank into the three o’clock position, pointing it forward and parallel to the ground.

Then, if applicable, insert an Allen-key wrench in the back of the pedal. Position it so that it sits just below the level of the crank. Then push down and forward and turn anti-clockwise.

Use only medium force as you don’t want to crack anything. Make sure that you catch any washers that fall out—you need these to attach new pedals.

Step 5: Repeat on the Right Side

For the right side, place the crank at a nine o’clock position. Then, if possible, use the Allen key, pushing it down and forwards.

However, this time, turn the wrench clockwise—continue until the pedal comes loose. Again, make sure that you catch the washer!

Step 6: Clean Up

Once you’ve removed the pedals, a good idea is to take your time to clean the crank.

Begin by inspecting the threads on the axle and the inside of the crank. Take a cloth and wipe away dirt and debris before checking for signs of damage.

If the threads appear worn out or otherwise damaged, this is the perfect time to replace them. A general indicator that you should get new threads is if the pedals were hard to remove.

Your local bike shop can help you check this and get you the right replacements.

Step 7: Apply Grease

If the axle threads are in good condition, add some grease or anti-seize. This prevents the new pedals from squeaking and ensures that they’re easy to remove next time.

You can also add some grease to the pedal axle. Squeeze on a small dot—you can always use a cloth to wipe off the excess.

Congratulations, now your bike is ready for a new set of pedals.

How to Remove Bike Pedals That Are Stuck

Sometimes, removing the pedals turns into a bigger operation if they’re stuck.

Pedals can become stuck due to a variety of reasons. It occurs with age as the metal parts become rusty. Other times, it may be because the pedals were screwed on too tightly.

Fortunately, there are ways to remove even the most stubborn pedals. It’s as simple as applying a few tips and tricks to the method above:

Apply a Penetrating Oil

Applying a penetrating oil can help loosen up some of the stuck sections. There are plenty of oils you can try, but for the best results, I recommend one made specifically for bikes.

Spray or apply the oil to the section that’s attached to the crank arm. Leave it to work for about 10 minutes or so. However, read the package instructions as it differs between brands—some work super fast and shouldn’t be left for too long and vice versa.

Then once the pedals are off, use a cloth to wipe away excess oil so that it doesn’t interfere with the new pedals.

Try a Rubber Hammer

In some cases, the reason why it’s harder to get the pedals off is that the wrench you’re using is wrong. If you don’t have another in the toolbox, use a rubber hammer to create more leverage.

Once you’ve somewhat secured the wrench on the pedal, tap it with the rubber hammer. This helps you create more leverage, giving you a better grip to loosen the pedal.

However, use gentle force—you’re not hammering a nail—especially if your bike is old and the threads might be rusty. If you’re too forceful, they could break.

Use the Right Tools

A big mistake we sometimes make is to try loosening the pedals using a basic multi-tool. This is a sure way of making the job a lot harder than it should be, particularly if the part is already stuck.

If you’re a devoted cyclist, I highly recommend that you invest in the right tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need a Pedal Wrench to Remove Pedals?

If you don’t have a pedal wrench, you may get away with it. However, it depends on the pedals on your bike.

The flats on most bikes are generally thinner than a standard 15-millimeter open-end wrench. If the flats on your pedals are thinner, it could work with a regular wrench.

Another option might be a 15-millimeter cone wrench. These are super thin, but not very durable, so they may only work for occasional use.

Another possible issue of using a thin, normal wrench is the lack of leverage. If your pedals are particularly tight or stuck, you won’t have enough to get a proper grip. You could try the rubber hammer, but be careful not to damage the wrench.

If the pedals have an Allen wrench hex hole at the back, you can use this to reinforce the wrench. Insert it into the hole and turn.

How Do You Remove Plastic Bike Pedals?

Plastic pedals are typical on various bikes, ranging from children’s options to BMX and even cruiser bikes. However, there are different grades of quality—low-cost options usually aren’t the best in terms of durability.

So, to remove plastic bike pedals, you can follow the same steps as above. But, if the quality is poor or they seem fragile, take care not to apply too much pressure. Perhaps use a penetrating oil, or even Vaseline, to loosen the parts a bit.

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Should You Grease Bike Pedals?

Bike pedals don’t require as much grease as the chain or gears do. But, they still need a little dab of oil every now and then.

Removing the pedals once in a while, cleaning the threads and applying some bike grease can increase their lifespan.

Dirt, dust and sand that accumulate every time you go for a ride can eventually make it harder to pedal. If neglected completely, the parts around the pedals can succumb significantly quicker.

Pedal to the Metal

Knowing how to remove bike pedals is essential if you’re often on the road. Fortunately, it isn’t the most challenging task, but it requires some precautions beforehand to prevent injuries and damage.

When you remove the pedals, always use the right tools. Check that you’re turning in the right direction and move the chain out of the way to prevent injuring your knuckles. Then clean out the thread, apply grease and attach your new pedals.


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