For a lot of cyclists, pedals are a personal thing. There are a few different types to choose from depending on the kind of riding you do and, for this reason, many bikes are sold without pedals. Even if your bike does come with some pedals, they’ll be removed to pack the bike for shipping.
Each pedal axle is threaded at the end, and your crank arms have threaded holes. Simple, right? It’s not an intimidating task, but here’s some advice to make things easier and make sure you avoid damaging your pedals or cranks.
Removing your pedals
Let’s start by taking off the pedals on your bike. Most pedals will either have flats to fit a 15mm spanner on the axle, or an Allen socket (normally 8mm) on the end of the axle. This job is easiest to do with your bike on the floor, so that your back wheel isn’t free to turn as you apply force to the pedals.
For the drive side (the side where your gears are), you loosen the pedal like a normal screw. Unscrew by turning anti-clockwise, or towards to back of the bike. It’s easiest to have your crank arm at the 3 ‘o’ clock position to do this. That way, as you press down on the spanner or Allen key, the cranks won’t be free to spin.
The non-drive side has a reverse thread. This means that it has to be turned the opposite way to unscrew. For this one, turn clockwise - this will also be towards the back of the bike. This time, line up your crank arm at the 9 ‘o’ clock position to keep it steady while you unscrew.
Fitting new pedals
Because the threads are different on each pedal, it’s important to only try to put the left pedal in the left crank and the right pedal in the right crank. If you get them mixed up, you run the risk of ruining the threads on either the cranks or your pedals, leaving them fit only for the bin. Check to see if your pedals have an ‘L’ and ‘R’ on them somewhere, or be extra careful to make sure you have the right one.
Before fitting your pedals, put some grease onto the threads – this will keep them from seizing as well as helping you to tighten the pedals to the correct torque. Then, it’s just the same as before:
To tighten the drive side, turn clockwise towards the front of the bike. Put the crank arm to the 9 ‘o’ clock position to keep it steady.
For the non-drive side, turn anti-clockwise towards the front of the bike. The crank should point to 3 ‘o’ clock.
Change gear so that your chain is on the biggest front chainring before starting – the chainrings are sharp, and can badly hurt your knuckles if you slip or the pedal suddenly loosens under force.
Similarly, make sure that your knuckles are well clear of the chainrings when undoing pedals. Look at where they’ll go if the tool slips, and make sure you’re safe.
If your pedals are stuck, try putting some penetrating oil (like GT-85) into the threads from both sides and coming back after a few minutes.