Writing a blog on something as seemingly straight forward as fitting pedals feels distinctly odd. But you wouldn’t believe the number of people who call in to our service centers having miss fitted pedals.
This tiny job matters because getting it wrong has a disproportional impact.
If your bike cost less than a couple of hundred quid then it’s highly likely you have a single piece crank. Fit your right pedal incorrectly and a replacement crank refit could cost you a quarter of the price of your entire bike.
Before looking at how to fit pedals - and it won’t take long - lets first look at the different types of pedals you might be considering.
Probably still the most popular of all pedals the traditional flat pedal ought not to be under estimated. Now lighter and stronger than ever and still the preferred choice of the downhill and BMK crowd not to mention millions of leisure riders and commuters.
- Inefficient use of energy
Very similar to standard flat pedals generally made of metal and with serrated surface to provide extra grip. 'Tracl pedal' denotes quality. Toe clips or straps are common place on track pedals especially on fixies.
+ Lighter than a traditional flat pedal
- Still lacking in accuracy
Clipless SPD - SL (Road)
One of the craziest and most confusing pieces of cycling terminology has to be the use of the term ‘clipless’ for a pedal whose defining feature is that you ‘clip in’ to it. The ‘clip’ in reference to ‘clipless’ is of course the toe clip fitted to an otherwise flat pedal which is clearly obsolete if you clip in to the actual pedal.
This system requires a specific cycling shoe (notoriously flat stiff sole) to which a cleat is permanently fitted.
+ Focus’s your watts exactly where you need them
+The entire stroke including the ‘up/pull’ is utilised.
- Specificity means you won’t want these on your commuter bike unless your prepared to change your shoes every time you stop.
Clipless SPD (MTB)
Works on a similar principle to the SL but has a smaller fitting and a smaller pedal.
+ MTB shoe tread hides the cleat and is easier to wear for continued day to day use.
- An SPD is small, very small, which means that riding them in your normal shoes can feel a little tricky.
Double sided pedals
Combining both clipless (SPD) and flat pedal the double sided pedals are perfect for those long distance riders in relentless pursuit of the bike that will do everything, everywhere, any time.
The problem with incorrectly fitting of pedals is always one of two things
1: Cross threading the pedal and the crank
2: Failure to apply lubrication
Here’s how to get it right
Check that the crank is clean and undamaged paying particular attention to check that the thread has not been crossed. Look and feel for a clean continuos thread.
Take pedal marked R and apply a small amount of lubricant to its thread.
Loosely place the thread of the pedal into the drive side crank (the one with your chain rings on) being careful to angle the thread exactly at 90 degrees.
Screw the thread clockwise
Note that the thread screw is separate to the pedal rotation
The screw should thread smoothly and without any undue resistance.
If you begin to feel the slightest increase in resistance unscrew in the opposite direction and start again.
Fit the pedals firmly and then an extra 1/8 of a turn.
Repeat the process with the left pedal L and the left crank paying particular attention to screw in the opposite direction (anti-clockwise). Don’t forget the lube.
A pedal wrench may be used to tighten the final fit.
When fitting clipless pedals you can use an alen key inserted through the opposite of the crank to tighten the thread.
The use of lubricant should enable you to easily remove the pedals when you decide to upgrade.
Once firmly fitted use a 15mm spanner (or pedal wrench) to tighten each pedal but don’t get carried away. There’s no need to tighten excessively remember pedals are, by definition, self tightening.
Now to fixing
Anything that ‘moves around’ but is ‘fixed to’ a set point must by definition use bearings to enable such movement to be smooth and consistent.
Think of bearings simply as lots of little balls (the shape with maximum ease of movement) packed in grease, between the outer and inner mechanism ie: the bit that freely spins(pedal) and the bit that must not (axle).
A ticking noise when you pedal, usually at the same point on every stroke.
Remove, lube, tighten.
Remove the pedal and re-lube the bearings.
Sticky and unpredictable releases
The problem almost certainly isn’t the pedal. Your cleats are probably worn and rounded. Change them!
Still not working?
Check and adjust the tension on your SPD-SL, more or less. Most cleats are marked + and -
**** Servicing your pedals once every nine months is part of good bike maintenance. Don’t do it at your peril!