When should you change your bike pedals?

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Most bike owners never consider that they might ever have to change their pedals. However, there will come a time when you will have to. Most pedals can last for years without a problem. There have been cases where riders have ridden their pedals for more than 10,000 miles before a replacement was needed. Generally, you should replace bike pedals if it is badly damaged or if the various parts are worn out. In this article, we will show you what exactly you need to look out for to know if you need new pedals and how to replace your old ones.

Reasons to replace your bike pedals

You may want to replace your pedals when you are upgrading to a new set. However, here we will discuss the kinds of wear or damage that could occur in pedals. A good set of pedals can last for thousands of miles before any issues develop. Eventually, you will notice one or more of the following problems:-

1. Worn out cleat attachments

When using clipless pedals, the act of repeatedly clipping in and out of the pedals will wear out the parts involved. Cleats will wear a lot faster and you will usually have to change those multiple times throughout the lifetime of the pedals. But inevitably, the part of the pedals where the cleats attach will wear out as well. When that happens, the connection to the bike will not be as secure and you’ll find that the shoes get unclipped prematurely. This can be dangerous and lead to accidents.

2. Worn out bearings

Other than the wheels, the pedals are also constantly rotating. The bearings that allow for smooth rotation can get worn out too. Although, this generally takes a longer time to happen than with the other parts of the pedals. You can tell if there is something wrong with the bearings if the pedal rotation isn’t as smooth as before or if there are any noises coming from the pedals during every stroke. In such cases, inspect the bearings to check for damage. Sometimes there isn’t any and the problem can be fixed with a bit of grease.

Worn down clipless pedals

Worn down clipless pedals | Source: https://university.trisports.com

3. Worn out axle thread

The threading on the axle is what keeps the pedals attached to the bike. In rare cases, we have seen the threads wearing out and the pedals just fall off the bike mid-ride. In this case, you will need new pedals. The sudden release can be shocking and cause you to lose control. Therefore, it is important to check the threads and keep them greased well.

4. Broken or worn pins

This is a problem that you will face with flat pedals. The small spikes on these pedals, called pins, provide grip to keep your feet in place. On most pedals, the pins are threaded and replaceable. However, in some cheaper composite models, the pins are moulded on the platform. And when they get damaged, there’s no option but to replace the entire pair of pedals.

5. Damaged pedal

Another reason that could force you to buy new pedals is if you break them. If you crash the pedals into rock or pavement hard enough, they will break. Scratches and small chips should be fine. But larger cracks or damage to the cleat system are a problem. Don’t try and keep using the pedals in this state as they are unsafe to use on a ride.

How to replace a pair of pedals

When it comes time to replace your pedals, you should follow the steps given below. These also apply if you want to carry out some maintenance on the pedals.

Step 1: Get the right tools

To loosen or tighten the pedals, you will need either one of two tools. Most pedals have external flats on the spindle which will require a pedal wrench. If you don’t have one, buy one. They are not too expensive and work much better than a regular wrench. Higher end pedals need to be loosened from the inside of the spindle and will require a hex key (either 8mm or 6mm). Other than one of these two, you should have some grease ready. It is also recommended to have an adjustable torque wrench. You’ll see later why.

Pedal wrenches and hex keys

Pedal wrenches and hex keys

Step 2: Remember the thread directions

We all know the rule about threads – righty tighty, lefty loosey – right? Well, this is only true for the right pedal. The left pedal in all bikes actually has to be turned clockwise to loosen and anticlockwise to tighten. This is the opposite to what we are used to and can confuse a lot of people. So, keep this in mind when removing the pedals.

Step 3: Remove the pedals

First rotate the cranks to a position where you can get good leverage. Place the wrench or hex key in the appropriate position. Rotate anticlockwise for the right-side pedal or clockwise for the left one. You might need to push down hard, so be careful not to injure yourself on the chainring teeth. Keep rotating until the pedal is free and repeat on the other side.

Step 4: Clean and lubricate

Whether you are carrying out maintenance on your pedals or replacing them with brand new ones, you should always clean the crank and pedals before attaching them. After cleaning, apply a little bit of grease on the threads to keep them from wearing out.

Step 5: Attach new pedals

Finally, you are ready to attach the pedals. Before doing so, you have to ensure that the pedals go on the correct side. There should be a small ‘L’ and ‘R’ written on the spindles to indicate the left and right-side pedals. If not, point the spindles to the ceiling and look at the threads front he side. On the right pedal, the threads will slope up towards the right and vice versa on the left one. Attaching the pedals is pretty much the reverse process of removing them.

The following video can give you a clearer understanding of how to carry out the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. When should you replace bike pedals cleats?

Ans.: Cleats need to be replaced when they inevitably get worn down. You should be able to tell this when the connection to the pedals feels sloppy and it becomes much easier to unclip. At this point you have to buy new cleats. Otherwise, your shoes might detach from the pedals in the middle of a ride without you intending it. Depending on how much you ride, you might need to replace your cleats after more than a year or in just a few months.

Q2. How often should you lubricate the pedals?

Ans.: There is no defined rule about lubricating the pedal threads and bearings. In fact, some people never do it and face no problems with their pedals for years. Nonetheless, we recommend applying grease on the threads at least once every year. This will really help to increase the lifespan of your pedals.

Greasing a pedal thread

Greasing a pedal thread


Changing your bike pedals is something that you don’t need to be concerned with for the major portion of your cycling life since a decent pair of pedals can last for years. And now you can tell when you do have to get a replacement. As we have also shown, replacing the pedals is a relatively easy process and is something you can do yourself.

My name is Dion Lewis. I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions. In my college life, I took a part-time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally. Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or bike gear.

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