Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to become a more proficient bicycle mechanic? Being self-sufficient as a home bicycle mechanic is an admirable, practical goal to strive for and one of the many facets of knowledge to master is the installation of pedals.
It’s a rather simple endeavor to undertake involving a minimum of tools (you may already own everything necessary) plus adherence to a pretty straightforward rule about how which direction to thread the respective right (drive side) and left (non-drive side) pedals into the crankarms.
Step 1. What tools do I need?
Tool-wise, there’s really not that much to installing a set of pedals. Option one is a dedicated pedal wrench – a 15mm open ended wrench that interfaces externally on the pedal axle and is narrow enough to fit in the gap between the crankarm and pedal. Option two involves a hex wrench (typically 6mm or 8mm) that’s applied directly into the end of the pedal’s axle. With the hex option, you’ll have to apply the wrench through the backside of the crankarm.
Tools for pedal installation: a pedal wrench and a hex wrench
What tool(s) to use depends on your specific pedal manufacturer. Some pedals only install via pedal wrench, some only install via hex wrench, and some are equipped with both options so you can choose what works best for you.
The flat portion of the axle means you can use a pedal wrench
This pedal can be installed/removed via a hex wrench in the axle
You’ll also need a small amount of grease (or anti-seize if the pedal axle is titanium) to apply to the pedal threads.
Step 2. Knowing your left from right pedals
Left and right pedals are threaded differently so it’s paramount you identify which pedal is which. For this very reason, every manufacturer stamps some form of identifier on the pedals in order for you to tell them apart. Typically it’s a simple as looking for a “L” and “R” , while some brands, such as Crank Brothers, are more understated (for Crank Brothers the left pedal is identified via a groove in the spindle flange while the right pedal’s spindle flange is smooth).
Look for markings to identify left and right pedals, in this case a “R” and “L” on the axles
Step 3. Prep pedals
Once you identify your left and right pedals, there’s a minor piece of prep work prior to installing into the cranks – application of some grease (or anti-seize for titanium pedal axles) to the pedal threads. It will make removal a whole lot easier as well as keep the pedals from creaking while you ride.
A dab of grease on the pedal threads is a must
Step 4. Installation
It’s absolutely imperative that you rotate the pedal axle the proper direction as the left and right pedals are threaded differently. The right (or drive side) pedal is threaded conventionally – the standard “righty tighty, lefty loosey” applies. The left (or non-drive side) is reverse threaded so tightening the pedal is a counter-clockwise motion while loosening is a clockwise motion.
Drive side pedal installation = clockwise rotation
Non-drive side installation = counter-clockwise rotation
Some prefer to think of it in terms of rotating the wrench towards either the front or rear of the bike. No matter which pedal you install, the wrench will be rotating towards the front. Removal of the pedals, conversely, involves rotating the wrench towards the rear.
Perhaps this is an easier way to remember rotational direction – to remove pedals rotate the wrench towards the rear of the bike
Presto! Simple as that!
1. Beware of cross-threading the pedal and crankarm. If possible, it’s a good idea to start threading the pedal into the crankarm by hand and then apply the wrench to complete the process.
Start the installation by hand to ensure threads are engaging correctly
2. Shift the chain into the big ring when installing/removing pedals on the drive side to protect yourself from chainring teeth.