Bicycles/Maintenance and Repair/Pedals/Removing pedals

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A pedal can be removed using a pedal wrench or, sometimes, an allen wrench if there is a hexagonal hole in the inside end of the pedal axle. A normal open end spanner/wrench will work on some pedals; an adjustable spanner/wrench spanner will typically not work, because the head is too wide to fit between the pedal and the crank. A good shop-quality pedal wrench will also be longer than these, for the required leverage. This leverage is also the limiting factor for the use of allen wrenches in this application.

Be careful not to scratch the crank arm if you do use a normal spanner.

If a normal spanner is all that you have (be it adjustable or not) then you may find that pedal removal is possible, especially if you are removing platform style pedals—these generally have larger lands for the spanner. Just take care not to scratch or gouge the crank arm (see photo at right). Position an adjustable wrench so that, when turned, the adjustable jaw is on the "inside" of the turn.

Usually, you should position the wrench as close to overlapping the crankarm as possible. (So that it is in front of the arm, not extending its line.) Before attempting to remove the right side pedal, make sure the chain is on the largest gear. (That way, if you slip, you'll have a more difficult time impaling yourself on the sharp chainring teeth.)

(Usually the left and right pedals are marked with an "L" or "R" on the end of the thread to make identification easy.)

Removing Bicycle Pedals

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  1. The left pedal (for left foot) has a left-hand thread i.e. it unscrews in the opposite direction to most threads (to unscrew it, you have to turn it clockwise). Left and right side pedals have opposite threads. The right hand, drive side, pedal is right hand (normal) thread; the left hand, non-drive side, pedal is left hand (reverse) thread. One easy way to remember the directions is (with the bike the right way up) to position the wrench on the pedal nut and projecting vertically above it, and to always push the lever of the wrench toward the rear of the bicycle to loosen that pedal; this works on either side. The natural motion of the pedal (which is counter-clockwise) will unscrew the left pedal if it is not left-handed.
  2. Pedals, especially when they have not been removed in a long time, can be very tight. It is important to apply grease to the threads before reassembly, to facilitate the next disassembly. Doubly so if the parts will be in a corrosive environment. (Salted roads, near saltwater, etc.) Any general purpose grease is acceptable. Without grease, pedals are very likely to become seized later and make for troublesome removal.

Note that there are two sizes of pedal axles in common, current-day use: 1/2 inch diameter for the one piece cranks typically found on children's bikes and older American-made bikes, and 9/16 inch diameter for the two and three piece cranks found on most modern adult bikes. Both sizes have SAE threads at 20 tracks per inch.

See also

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How to Remove and Install Pedals