How to fit and remove bike pedals

It may just look like a question of getting a large enough spanner to them, but there’s more to swapping your pedals than meets the eye

It might seem that once you’ve chosen, purchased and fitted your pedals, you’ll never have to touch them again – but that’s not so. You’ll need to remove your bike pedals when you pack the bike into a bag or box for holidays, and when it comes time to replace them.

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Fitting and removing pedals is a fairly simple job – but it is possible to mess it up, causing problems down the line.

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What do you need to fit and remove pedals?

Not a lot. You’ll need:

  • Anti-seize / bike grease
  • A rag
  • 8mm Allen key, or a pedal spanner

Some pedals allow you to use an 8mm allen key or a pedal spanner – the latter will be marked out by spanner facets where the threads end and is preferable as it provides more leverage – but both will work.

fit and remove bike pedal

It’s important to know which way the thread goes when you fit and remove pedals

It’s really important not to mix up your left and right pedals – the right pedal has a normal thread (so the ‘righty tighty, leftie loosie’ rhyme applies), but the left pedal has a left handed thread.

An easy way to remember ‘which way to turn’ is to know that rotating forward (in the direction that the wheels move), tightens and rotating backwards (in the direction the wheels don’t go) loosens.

With Look and Shimano pedals, it’s usually clear which one is which – but Speedplay and SPD pedals looks similar. However, all pedals with have ‘L’ and ‘R’ symbols to help you out.

How to fit pedals

Pedals are threaded in the same direction as the cranks turn – which means over time they become tighter. The longer they’re left, the tighter they become.

You can avoid them seizing by not over-tightening them when you fit them – and by using a little bike grease on the pedal arm.

  • Start by making sure the pedals are clean – give them a good wipe with a clean rag
  • Apply some anti-seize to the thread
  • Insert the right pedal into the crank, and turn it clockwise – by hand
  • Insert the left pedal into the crank, and turn it anti-clockwise – by hand
  • Use the allen key or pedal spanner to tighten them – they don’t need to be really tight – Shimano recommends 35-55 Nm, but we find applying just a bit of pressure works fine and means they’re easier to remove later
  • Remember that power meter pedals require a specific torque so use a torque wrench in this case

How to remove pedals

If you’ve used grease, not over-tightened the pedals and not left them on too long, removing your pedals should be fairly pain free:

  • Put the chain into the big ring – this helps avoid the chances of you hitting it with your knuckles (it happens, sorry..)
  • Right pedal – start with the pedal at a 3 o’clock position, insert allen key/fit pedal spanner and push down – the pedal needs to be rotated anti-clockwise for removal
  • Left pedal – start with the pedal at 9 o’clock (parallel to the ground), fit the tool and push down – the pedal needs to be rotated clockwise for removal

If you find the pedals hard to remove, try applying a little bit of grease around the crank arm, and returning after 20 minutes.