How to Remove Mountain Bike Pedals – Step by Step
Although removing your mountain bike pedals is easy to do on your own, doing it for the first time may be challenging. This is because any mistake could result in stuck pedals or ruined threads and crank arms. Yet, armed with just a few tips and tricks, you can remove your own mountain bike pedals easily while avoiding common mistakes. In this article, we'll show you how to remove mountain bike pedals step by step, avoiding potential problems.
To remove mountain bike pedals, first apply penetrating oil to loosen the pedals, then twist the pedal spindle to remove the pedals.
If you would like to know more about how to change pedals on a mountain bike check out our article.
Step 1. Gather A 8 Mm Hex Key And A 15 Mm Spanner
The first thing you need to do to remove your mountain bike pedals is to determine which type of tool you will need. Most bike pedals require either a 15 mm spanner wrench or an 8 mm hex key. In some rare cases, you might need a 6 mm hex key. To identify which tool you'll need for your bike, you need to look at the spindle to see whether it has parallel faces or a hexagonal pocket. We cover mountain bike pedal thread sizes in our article so that you can identify the size of the thread of your new pedals. If you have flat pedals with parallel faces between the pedal body and the crank, you'll need a 15 mm spanner to remove the pedal. If you have clipless pedals with hexagonal pockets on the end of the spindle, you'll need a hex key (also known as an Allen key which is explained in this interesting article by Haus of Tools).
Check out our article to know more about the benefits of clipless pedals on a mountain bike.
Tools Commonly Required to Remove Mountain Bike Pedals:
|What do you need?||When do you need it?||Example|
|15 mm spanner||To remove pedals that have parallel faces on the spindle||15 mm Bicycle Spanner|
|8 mm hex key||To remove pedals that have hexagonal pockets on the spindle||Hex Key Set|
Before we get any further, be sure you have the right tools for the job. You can find everything you need in our guide to mountain bike tool kit essentials. Be sure to check it out before going on your next adventure. Similarly, if you've ever wondered whether or not you can make a DIY mountain bike rear fender, be sure to read our related article to find out more.
Step 2. Immobilize the Crank to Remove Tight Bike Pedals
Removing bike pedals may be quite difficult if you have not changed your pedals for a long time or if the pedals were not greased when they were first installed. Also, pedals are always fastened securely during assembly – which can make it hard to remove them quickly even if they were greased before installation.
One thing that can help you do it more easily is making sure you immobilize the crank. The crank arm will move while you try to remove the pedals, making it harder to do. If you make sure the crank arm is immobilized and well-fixed to the bike frame, the process will be much easier even if the pedals are slightly stuck. To secure the opposite crank arm and pedal to the bike frame, you can use a pedal toe clip strap like this or any kind of velcro strapping like this, making sure it is tight enough to hold the crank in position when force is applied.
Step 3. Use the Spanner to Release the Wrench Flats
Depending on the type of pedals you have, use the appropriate tool to unscrew them.
If your pedals require a hex key, keep the short end of the hex key placed on the back of the pedal and start pushing down while holding the opposite crank until the pedal starts to loosen. Then, finish unscrewing the pedal by hand. If your pedals require a spanner, put the spanner onto the wrench flats while pointing it towards the rear. Then, follow the same procedure.
Step 4. Rotate the Spanner to Loosen the Pedal
But wait! Which way should you rotate the tool? The answer depends on whether you're unfastening the right or the left pedal. The section below will show you how to differentiate between the right and left pedals and how to remove them in the correct direction.
Removing Bike Pedals in the “Right” Direction
Trying to remove a bike pedal in the “right” direction could prove to be the wrong way! To avoid problems, you have to know one important thing….
To remove mountain bike pedals, loosen the right pedal by turning the spindle counterclockwise and loosen the left pedal by turning the spindle clockwise.
This video tutorial by GMBN Tech explains a bit more about changing your bike’s pedals.
Which Pedal is Left or Right?
When you approach your bike to work on the pedals, you might suddenly feel confused about which pedal is the right and which is the left. Depending on where you are approaching the bike, either side could be the “right” side. But there is an easy way to identify the “right” side of a bike when you are trying to follow directions for any task.
The “drive side” is the side of the bicycle frame that has the gears of the bike – it’s the side that “drives” the bike. That drive side is the “right” side. The other side, without the bicycle gears, is the left. It’s as simple as that! The “right” side is the side with the gears on it (the “drive side”).
Removing the Right Pedal
To remove the right pedal, keep the right-hand crank in the three o'clock position with the crank pointing directly toward the front wheel when viewed from the drive side of the bike (the side of the bike with the gears).
If your bike has a flat pedal, you'll need the spanner to remove the pedal. Hold the spanner and place it onto the wrench flats, pointing it towards the rear; then start pushing down, turning the spindle counterclockwise. When the pedal starts to loosen, you can finish unscrewing it by hand. If your bike has clipless pedals, you'll need an 8 mm Allen key to remove the pedals. Place the Allen key into the back of the pedal and give it a turn, pushing it down in the same direction, turning the spindle counterclockwise.
Removing the Left Pedal
The left pedal is removed in the opposite way to the right pedal. To remove the left pedal, the left-hand side crank needs to be kept in the nine o'clock position where the crank is pointing toward the front wheel when viewed from the drive side of the bike.
If your bike requires a spanner like this to remove the pedals, place the spanner onto the wrench flats, and start pushing down, turning the spindle clockwise. If your bike requires an 8 mm Allen key like this, place the Allen key into the back of the pedal and give it a turn, pushing it down in the same direction, turning the spindle clockwise. In essence, the process to remove the left pedal is the same as removing the right, except in the opposite direction, turning the spindle clockwise, to the right.
How to Loosen and Remove Bike Pedals That Are Stuck
You have the right tool for your pedals. You know which direction to turn the spindle to remove the pedal. But it isn’t budging. Are you doing something wrong? Probably not. Stuck bike pedals are a common problem. Bike pedals can get stuck when they are used for a long time without changing them. Also, if the pedals are not greased when they are installed for the first time, they can become stuck.
To loosen and remove bike pedals that are stuck, use penetrating oil. Then, make sure to determine the correct direction to loosen the pedals before applying any force.
Step 1. Apply Penetrating Oil
This step can make all the difference in removing a stuck bike pedal. Penetrating oil like this made specifically for stuck metal parts is the best thing to help remove stuck bike pedals. Penetrating oil is not the same as lubricating oil which it is often confused with, so make sure to use the right kind of oil and that it can be used on bikes. Applying the penetrating oil will help loosen the stuck parts to remove them more easily. Leave the oil to work for 10 minutes until it achieves the desired result.
Step 2. Loosen the Spindle Using an Allen Key or Pedal Wrench
Before starting to turn the spindle, make sure to confirm the correct direction to loosen the pedal. This is a very important thing to do unless you want to end up with unremovable pedals. Turning the spindle in the wrong direction tightens the pedals instead of loosening them – which makes the problem worse. For the right pedal (on the drive side), turn the spindle counterclockwise (to the left) to loosen it. For the left pedal, turn the spindle clockwise (to the right) to loosen it.
Place the tool, either the Allen key if you're using clipless pedals or the pedal wrench if you're using flat pedals, on the spindle and start pushing down in the correct direction. Apply all your might since the pedals are stuck and require extra force. You'll find that the penetrating oil has helped a bit in loosening the stuck pedal, and it should start to move for you.
How to Remove Bike Pedals with a Wrench
To remove mountain bike pedals with a wrench, place the pedal wrench on the spindle, push hard in the correct direction, then rotate the spindle until the pedal is unscrewed.
Step 1. Place the Pedal Wrench on the Spindle
The first thing you need to do to remove your bike pedal is to place a pedal wrench like this on the spindle correctly. For the right pedal, keep the right-hand crank in the three o'clock position with the crank pointing directly toward the front wheel (when viewed from the drive side of the bike).
Step 2. Push Hard in the Correct Direction
With the pedal wrench placed on the spindle, start pushing down in the correct direction depending on which pedal you are working on. For the right pedal (on the drive side of the bike), start pushing down counterclockwise, to the left, to loosen the pedal. For the left pedal, start pushing down clockwise, to the right.
Step 3. Rotate the Spindle Until the Pedal is Unscrewed
When you push down in the correct direction, you should find that the pedal starts to loosen. Once the pedals are loose, you can easily unscrew them by hand without any tools. Keep rotating the spindle in the same direction until the pedal is completely unscrewed.
How to Remove Bike Pedals With an Allen Key
To remove mountain bike pedals with an Allen wrench, place the Allen key in the spindle and push down. Next, rotate the spindle repeatedly in the correct direction until the pedal is loose enough to unscrew altogether. Repeat to loosen the other pedal.
Step 1. Place the Allen Key in the Spindle and Start Pushing Down
Place an Allen key from a set like this into the spindle of the pedal and start pushing down in the correct direction according to the pedal you are removing: counterclockwise for the right pedal (on the drive side of the bike) and clockwise for the left pedal.
Step 2. Rotate the Spindle Repeatedly to Unscrew the Pedals
When the pedal starts to loosen, unscrew it by continuing to rotate the spindle in the same direction repeatedly. You can complete this step by hand once the pedal loosens enough.
How to Remove Trek Mountain Bike Pedals
To remove Trek mountain bike pedals use an 8mm or 6mm Allen key.
Trek mountain bike pedals like these are different from regular flat bike pedals. This type of pedal cannot be removed with a 15 mm pedal wrench. Instead, it requires an 8 mm or 6 mm Allen key for installation and removal, depending on the model of the pedal.
To remove trek pedals, you still need to determine which is the right pedal and which is the left to loosen them correctly. Then, place the short end of the Allen key into the spindle and start pushing down in the correct direction for that pedal until the pedal starts to loosen.
How to Remove Specialized Mountain Bike Pedals
To remove Specialized mountain bike pedals use an 8mm or 6mm Allen key.
Like trek pedals, specialized pedals are a type of clipless pedals, as discussed in this article from Shimano, that requires an Allen key, either an 8 mm one or a 6 mm one, for installation and removal. These types of pedals do not use a pedal wrench although some pedals might look, at first glance, as if they do accept a pedal wrench. Instead, these pedals have hexagonal pockets that require an Allen key to be inserted for removal and installation. To remove specialized pedals, place the short end of the Allen key into the spindle and start pushing down in the correct direction until the pedal starts to loosen. If you would like to know more about different pedals have a look at our article that discusses how to choose mountain bike pedals for grip maximization.
Steps to Remove Shimano Mountain Bike Pedals with an Allen Key
We explore different pedal options in our article about choosing between mountain bike toe clips and clipless pedals. Like Trek pedals and specialized pedals, Shimano mountain bike pedals are also different from regular flat pedals. These Shimano pedals are clipless pedals that require an 8 mm or 6 mm Allen key, depending on the model, to remove them. Like all pedals, make sure to turn the spindle in the correct direction for each pedal.