How to Remove a Bicycle Pedal

by John Cagney Nash
Servicing your own bicycle can be satisfying and make financial sense.

Servicing your own bicycle can be satisfying and make financial sense.

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Bicycle pedal assemblies typically comprise three major components: the crank arm, the pedal shaft and the pedal platform. To remove a bicycle pedal, a regular wrench or a dedicated pedal wrench must be used; the proper tool has a narrower profile to fit more easily into the space between the crank arm and the pedal platform.Also, the pedal wrench is made with a longer shaft, which helps in exerting the necessary pressure.

Items you will need

  • Bicycle vise (optional)
  • Rag
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Anti-seize compound
  • Penetrating oil (optional)
  • Wrench
Step 1

Turn the gear selector to the highest gear, then rotate the pedals so that the chain locates to the largest sprocket. This is done to minimize risk of personal injury; if the wrench slips, the chain will not rotate as far on the largest sprocket as it would on smaller ones, and the chance of a finger becoming trapped or a knuckle torn is therefore reduced.

Step 2

Turn the bicycle upside down, so that it's resting on its seat and handlebars, or fix it in a proprietary bicycle vise. Protect the bicycle from overspray by wrapping it in a rag or newspaper, then spray an anti-seize compound or penetrating lubricant on the threads. Wait for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer of the product before proceeding.

Step 3

Familiarize yourself with the components while waiting for the penetrating oil to work: The part of the pedal that your foot rests on is properly called the "pedal platform;" the arm that is attached at one end to the drive crank assembly and has the pedal at the other end is properly called the "crank arm;" the bar that passes through the center of the pedal and attaches to the crank arm is properly called the "pedal shaft." On the inner end of the pedal shaft is an area with two flat faces; this is where the wrench must be used.

Step 4

Determine the correct wrench to use. Most budget-priced bicycles with a single drive crank require a 1/2-inch wrench; mid- and high-priced machines with three or more drive cranks typically require a 9/16-inch wrench.

Step 5

Insert the wrench between the crank arm and the pedal platform, so that it slips over the two flat places on the pedal shaft. Hold tightly onto the opposite crank arm, and exert gradually increasing pressure on the wrench until the pedal shaft loosens. Continue to rotate the pedal shaft until the pedal platform comes free of the crank arm.

Tips & Warnings

  • The easiest way to get the unscrewing of the pedals -- one right-handed, and one left-handed -- correct is to position the wrench toward the top of the machine when it is upside down and push toward the rear: Both pedals unscrew by turning to the rear.
  • Typically, an adjustable crescent wrench cannot be used to remove pedals, because the head is too thick to pass between the pedal platform and the crank arm.
  • Remember that the left pedal -- the one on the opposite side of the bicycle to the drive assembly -- is held in place by a left-hand thread, so that it is not loosened inadvertently by the process of pedaling forward. It unscrews in the opposite direction to what you may expect; turn it clockwise to unscrew it.
  • An entirely different assembly method is used by a few manufacturers, where the pedal is held in place with an Allen bolt. This assembly method requires different tools and a different set of instructions to remove the pedals.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images