How to Remove Bike Pedals: Comprehensive Guide and Tips

Removing bike pedals involves a simple process that you can master with basic tools and the right technique.

Removing bike pedals may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and technique, it can be accomplished smoothly. This article will guide you step by step, illustrating the process of removing your bike pedals with ease.

Whether it’s for maintenance, replacement, or an upgrade, understanding how to safely remove your pedals is a fundamental skill for every cyclist. In the following sections, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the tools required, the preparatory steps, and the actual process of removing the pedals.

Stick around for comprehensive insights and pro tips to make your pedal removal experience hassle-free.

Key takeaways:

  • Pedals are labeled L (left) and R (right)
  • Tools needed: 15mm pedal wrench or 8mm Allen key
  • Right pedal tightens clockwise, left pedal tightens counterclockwise
  • Use long-handled wrench or cheater bar for leverage
  • Apply grease or anti-seize compound for reinstallation

Identifying Right and Left Bike Pedals

how to remove bike pedals

Pedals are unique to each side of the bicycle. If you look closely, they carry small engravings – “L” for left and “R” for right. This distinction is crucial as it directly impacts the removal and installation process.

The right pedal, your drive side, typically has a chain. Conversely, the left pedal is the non-drive side. Remember to verify the markings before proceeding with the pedal removal to avoid any cross-threading or damage to the bike.

Always follow this rule: the right pedal attaches clockwise, the left pedal, anticlockwise.

Tools Required for Pedal Removal

Commonly, a 15mm pedal wrench or an 8mm Allen key are the tools that adequately serve the purpose of removing pedals. The choice of tool depends on the type of pedal. Some pedals might require a thin jawed 15mm spanner for removal, while others might have an 8mm Allen key fitting on the inside of the crank arm.

An essential point to note here is that the wrench or the Allen key should have a long handle to provide the necessary leverage to loosen a tight pedal. Stubborn pedals may also inflict the need for a cheater bar for additional leverage. Avoid using general pliers or adjustable wrenches, as they can often damage the pedal or lead to potential injury.

Lastly, a bit of grease or anti-seize compound will be required for reinstallation of bike pedals.

Understanding Pedal Thread Direction

Knowing the way your bike pedals are threaded is crucial when it comes to removing or installing them. Uniquely, the left pedal has a left-hand thread and the right pedal has a regular right-hand thread. This means the right pedal tightens clockwise, while the left pedal tightens counterclockwise; a concept often summed up by the phrase ‘right tighty, lefty loosey‘.

Similarly, to loosen the pedals, you’ll want to turn the right pedal counterclockwise and the left pedal clockwise. This thread direction is designed to prevent the pedals from unintentionally unscrewing during a ride due to the forces applied when cycling.

Removing the Right (Driveside) Pedal

Position your wrench on the pedal’s flat spots, ensuring a firm grip. Remember, the driveside pedal follows a regular, right-handed thread pattern – in other words, you’ll need to turn it counterclockwise to loosen.

Stand on the side of the right pedal, with the pedal at the lowest point, push the wrench forward to achieve maximum leverage. Meanwhile, brace the crank arm with your free hand to prevent it from spinning.

Upon feeling the initial release, continue to rotate the wrench in the same direction until the pedal is fully detached.

Removing the Left (Non-Driveside) Pedal

Begin by positioning the pedal at the lowest point (6 o’clock position). Utilize your 15mm open-end wrench or pedal spanner, placing it on the pedal’s flat sections, facing upwards. This arrangement provides optimal leverage.

The left pedal unscrews in a clockwise direction contrary to the usual ‘righty-tighty, lefty-loosey’ rule. Push down on the wrench to loosen and keep turning until the pedal is free.

For stubborn pedals, consider using a cheater bar for additional leverage. Always remember to exert force cautiously to avoid injuries or damage to the bike parts.

Greasing the Pedals Before Reinstallation

Prior to reattaching your pedals, it’s important to lubricate the pedal threads. This serves two key purposes: reducing the likelihood of the pedals seizing and making future removal easier. A thin coat of bike-specific grease or anti-seize compound is often sufficient.

When applying the grease, ensure a small quantity is gently rubbed all around the threads. This method offers a more evenly distributed coat and prevents excessive accumulation of grease which can attract dirt. Refrain from using too much – a small amount goes a long way.

Keep in mind to avoid getting the grease on the pedal surface, to maintain grip when cycling. Over time, take note, the grease may need reapplying if pedals become difficult to remove again.

Fitting the Right (Driveside) Pedal

To install the driveside pedal, start by applying a bit of grease on the threads to facilitate smooth attachment. Position the pedal to align correctly with the crankarm threads.

Remember, the driveside pedal follows the standard righty-tighty rule. Hence, turn the pedal spindle clockwise for successful installation. Use your hands to thread the pedal into the crankarm initially before employing the use of a pedal wrench.

Using the wrench, continue tightening till the pedal is firmly secured. Remember not to overtighten to avoid damage to the threads. The right pedal should be perpendicular to the ground to maximize efficiency.

Fitting the Left (Non-Driveside) Pedal

Begin by applying a thin layer of grease to the pedal spindle. Set the bike upright to ensure a smooth process.

Align the hole on the non-driveside crank arm with the greased pedal spindle. The left pedal installs counter-clockwise, so rotate it accordingly. Hand thread it into place initially to avoid cross-threading.

Once it is threaded by hand, take a pedal wrench and tighten to a secure point. Avoid over-tightening. Always remember, left pedal threads are reversed.

Avoiding Cross-threading During Pedal Installation

Cross-threading is a common issue that can cause serious damage to the pedal or crank arm. To avoid this, always start the pedal threading by hand. Turning it gently, ensure it engages correctly with the crank arm threads.

If it feels tight or misaligned, stop immediately and reposition. Force or tools should not be necessary at this initial stage. It’s important to remember that cross-threading isn’t only a result of forceful installation, but also improper alignment. Thus, carefully aligning pedal spindle with the crank arm thread is crucial.

Lastly, never rush the process, patience during pedal installation can save costly repair in the future.


What way do pedals unscrew?

The right pedal unscrews counterclockwise and installs clockwise, while the left pedal unscrews clockwise and installs counterclockwise.

Why can’t I remove my pedals?

Pedals can become stuck due to factors such as exposure to natural elements like water and mud, build-up of rust, or overly tight assembly.

What tools are necessary for successful bike pedal removal?

For successful bike pedal removal, you’ll need a pedal wrench or an adjustable wrench, and optionally, anti-seize grease for reinstallation.

How can one prevent stripping the pedal threads during removal?

To prevent stripping the pedal threads during removal, always turn the wrench towards the back of the bike, since pedals adhere to the “righty tighty, lefty loosey” rule with a crucial exception: the left pedal uses a reverse thread.

Are there any safety precautions to consider when removing bike pedals?

Yes, when removing bike pedals, ensure you have the right tools to avoid stripping the pedal axle threads and always remember that the left pedal is reverse threaded so screw it clockwise to remove it.