Whether you are racing or doing a lot of tricks, BMX bikes and their various components, including the pedals, often take a lot of punishment. It is also important for BMX riders to have the freedom to take their feet off the pedals at any time. This is why nearly all BMX bikes are equipped with durable flat pedals. There are plenty of guides out there for selecting road or MTB pedals. Which is why in this article, we will discuss all the important factors that you need to consider before buying a pair of BMX pedals.
All BMX pedals are made from one of three materials – plastic composite, steel, or aluminium. The exact material used in composite pedals can vary from one manufacturer to the next. Many brands for example, use nylon. These pedals are generally lighter and cheaper, but they are also less durable. Steel pedals are probably the most durable and also the heaviest out of the three. Nowadays, steel pedals are rarely seen. Most of them are composite or aluminium.
Speaking of which, aluminium pedals can be quite expensive. However, they will last a long time and are not overly heavy. In most people’s opinion, they also look the best. The axle or spindle of a pedal can be made of either stainless steel or a chro-moly alloy. You don’t usually need to worry about the axle material since both of these work equally well.
The threading on the pedal axles allow the bike pedals to be attached securely to the crank arms. On most modern bikes with a 3-piece crank, you will find a 9/16” thread. So, switching pedals is never usually a problem regardless of the brand or bike. However, if your bike has a 1-piece crank, as many BMX bikes still do, then you will need a ½” thread instead.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the left-side pedal always has a reverse thread, no matter the model. Which means that it is tightened by turning it anticlockwise and loosed in the clockwise direction. This is done so that the pedal does not come loose while riding. To tell the right-side pedal apart from the left one, the axle will be marked with an ‘L’ or ‘R’. If there are no markings, look at the thread itself. The thread on the right-side pedal will slope upwards and to the right. The opposite is true for the left-side pedal.
Whether to replace your pedals or to carry out some maintenance, you will eventually have to remove/install your pedals. For this reason, bike pedals will either have an external nut or an internal key on the spindle. The former of these two requires a pedal wrench, most of which are 15 mm. Some pedals may require a 17 mm wrench. You can choose to use a normal box wrench as well if it’s the right size.
If your pedal has an internal key, then you’ll have to use either a 6 mm or an 8 mm hex key, depending on the pedal design. The pedal has to be worked on from behind the crank arm in this case. so , you will have to buy tools according to what pedals you have. Fortunately, there are many pedals today that can be removed with both a pedal wrench and a hex key.
Unlike in clipless pedals, your feet are not firmly fixed in place on flat pedals. This is why most flat pedals come with small cylindrical protrusions called pins that prove the grip to prevent your shoes from slipping. On metallic pedals, the pins are also of metal. Many designs offer replaceable or even adjustable pins. The taller the pins the better the grip and the more damage they’ll cause to your shoes. The amount of grip required is totally up to your preference.
Composite pedals sometimes also have metal pins which can be changed when worn down or adjusted according to preference. However, cheaper models have injection moulded pins. When these get worn or damaged, you’ll have to buy a whole new set of pedals. Pedals designed for BMX often feature knurling on the surface. This creates a textured surface that provides additional grip with the shoes.
Bushings & Bearings
Bike pedals have to have some sort of mechanism to allow them to spin smoothly. There are 3 such systems for this. Cheaper pedals can have either a plastic bushing or loose ball bearings. A plastic bushing is simply a plastic cylinder inside the pedal with a bit of lubricating oil. Initially, they are a bit stiff but get smoother with use. Loose ball bearings do not have this problem. However, they do make a little bit of sound when they spin.
Higher-end pedals are fitted with sealed cartridge bearings. The reason that they are more expensive is that they are pretty much better in every way. Sealed bearings provide a much smoother motion, they are practically silent, and they last a lot longer than bushings and loose ball bearings.
A lot of BMX pedals come with a concave design. This makes your shoes flex into the pedal surface and get a better grip. The amount of concavity on the surface can vary from one set of pedals to another. Some have a completely flat design which has less grip, but that may be preferable to certain riders.
Having a feathery light bike is not really a priority for most BMX riders. In fact, they prefer it if the pedals have a bit of weight to them. Since they take quite a beating on a regular basis, BMX bike pedals should have a sturdy build. Even the lightest BMX pedals do not weigh less than 300 grams while some can weigh up to 600 grams. Aluminium pedals are going to weigh more than composite pedals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How can you avoid hurting your shin on the pedals?
Ans.: Anyone who rode BMX bikes for some time knows that your feet will inevitably slip off the pedals. It’s just part of the game. When that happens, you might hit one of your shins on a pedal. The best way to protect your shin is to wear shin pads. However, many riders don’t like to wear them. The least you should do is wear jeans and not shorts to provide at least some protection.
Q2. Can you use mountain bike pedals for BMX?
Ans.: Mountain bikes can have either clipless pedals or flat pedals. BMX bikes almost never have clipless pedals. But if we are talking only about flat pedals, then MTB pedals and BMX pedals have pretty much the same design. All the features and variations found on both types of pedals are the same. Therefore, they can be used interchangeably. The only difference is that some BMX pedals can have a ½” thread in place of the standard 9/16” thread.
Q3. What size BMX pedals do you need?
Ans.: That really depends on your foot size. If you have particularly large feet then you should look for pedals with a larger platform. Fortunately, many manufacturers do produce bigger pedals nowadays. If you have smaller feet, then there’s no need to buy large pedals since they provide less clearance with the ground.
Hopefully now you have a good enough understanding of BMX pedals to be able to make a decision for yourself. Remember to think about what size you need, how much grip you want, what design you prefer, and of course how much budget you have. Buying the right pair of pedals can really make a difference in your overall riding experience.