How To Remove Mountain Bike Pedals?

Learning to remove and install pedals is an essential skill for any mountain biker to master. While it may seem intimidating at first, the process is straightforward once you understand the basics of How To Remove Mountain Bike Pedals. 

This comprehensive DIY guide will provide everything you need to know to easily remove and install any type of mountain bike pedal.

Types of Mountain Bike Pedals 

Mountain bikes utilize three main pedal varieties, each removed and installed in a slightly different manner:

  • Clipless Pedals: These pedals require cycling shoes with cleats to snap into the mechanism for a secure connection. Popular clipless systems include Shimano SPD, Crank Brothers Eggbeaters, and Shimano SPD-SL. To remove them, you twist your foot sideways to unclip before lifting up.
  • Flat Pedals: Flat pedals have a simple flat platform surface with added grip from pins or spikes. They are used with regular shoes or skate shoes. A pedal wrench is needed to remove them by turning counterclockwise.
  • Toe Clips and Straps: Some older mountain bikes have pedals with a metal or plastic toe cage and strap to hold feet in place. You remove your foot by loosening the strap and lifting it up and out.

Tools and Supplies Needed

Having the proper tools makes removing and installing pedals much simpler:

  • Pedal Wrench – This specialized thin wrench grips the pedal axle and flats securely to provide maximum leverage. A 15mm wrench is standard for most mountain bike pedals.
  • Allen Key – Many pedals use a 6mm hex bolt to attach to the crank. An Allen key is needed to remove it.
  • Grease – Apply bike-specific grease to pedal threads before installing to prevent seizing up.
  • Rags – For wiping off old grease and grime from the threads.
  • Gloves – Bike gloves help grip the tools and protect your hands.

Removing Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals

Removing Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals

Clipless pedal systems like SPD require a specific motion to detach before removal:

  1. Shift into the lowest gear. This prevents potential drivetrain damage.
  2. Use one hand to steady the crank arm while standing over the bike on the side you are working on.
  3. Twist your foot outwards to unclip the cleat from the pedal mechanism. It may initially feel stuck but will loosen with some wiggling.
  4. Lift your foot straight up once fully unclipped to remove it from the pedal.
  5. Repeat the unclipping process for your other foot if servicing both pedals.

Once unclipped, use a pedal wrench to loosen and remove each bare pedal body:

  • Turn the wrench counter-clockwise to loosen the drive-side(right) pedal. Non-drive side(left) pedals have reverse threads and turn clockwise.
  • Keep rotating the wrench until the pedals are completely loosened and can be spun off by hand.

Removing Flat Mountain Bike Pedals

Removing Flat Mountain Bike Pedals

Removing flat platform pedals is more straightforward:

  1. Shift into the easiest gear to take pressure off the drivetrain.
  2. Identify right and left pedals – right pedals are marked R and thread counter-clockwise, left pedals are marked L and thread clockwise.
  3. Stand over the bike and brace the crank arm with one hand.
  4. Fit the pedal wrench securely over the axle and pedal body flats.
  5. Turn the wrench counter-clockwise to loosen the right pedal. Go clockwise for the left.
  6. Keep rotating the wrench until the pedals are completely loose and can spin off by hand.

Significant force is often needed to initially break loose pedals that have been on for a while. Quality pedal wrenches provide the most grip and leverage for removal.

Installing Mountain Bike Pedals

Follow these tips when installing replacement or serviced pedals:

  • Always apply bike-specific grease to the pedal threads before installing. This prevents seizing.
  • Ensure proper left (reverse threads) and right (normal threads) pedal placement.
  • Tighten pedals to 35-40 Nm of torque using a torque wrench. This prevents loosening while riding.
  • Consider using a thread locker compound for added security if pedals continually come loose.
  • Start threading pedals by hand to avoid potential cross-threading.
  • Be mindful not to overtighten and strip crank arm threads.

Taking extra time to properly grease and tighten pedals makes removal simpler the next time you need to service them.

Troubleshooting Tips for Stuck Pedals

Over time, pedals can become stubbornly stuck in place:

  • Use a penetrating lubricant like WD-40 on the threads. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes before trying to loosen.
  • Gently tap the pedal axle end with a hammer/mallet to help jar it free.
  • Try a cheater bar or extra wrench length on the pedal wrench for increased leverage.
  • If accessible, remove any axle hex bolt with an Allen key to expose the internal threads.
  • Slightly heating the area with a hair dryer can expand and loosen a stuck pedal. Take care not to overheat.
  • As a last resort, cut off the stripped pedal axle with a rotary tool and remove any remaining piece stuck in the crank arm.

In most cases, lubricant and added pedal wrench leverage will get seized pedals turning again. Visiting a bike shop is recommended if DIY efforts fail to remove stuck pedals.

FAQs About Removing and Installing Mountain Bike Pedals

How do I determine left vs. right threaded pedals?

The left pedals are reverse threaded and marked L. Right pedals are normally threaded and marked R. Observe which way they turn to loosen – counterclockwise is likely the right side.

Can I change my own pedals as a beginner?

Yes, any mountain biker can learn to remove and install pedals with some basic tools and follow the proper technique. Grease threads well and double check you are using the correct threaded pedal on each side.

What size pedal wrench do I need?

15mm is the most common mountain bike pedal axle width. However, BMX can be 14mm, and some other specialty sizes exist too. Check your owner’s manual if the size is unclear. Adjustable pedal wrenches are also available.

How often should I remove and service pedals?

Plan to remove, clean, and regrease pedals about once yearly depending on your riding frequency. This prevents corrosion buildup so pedals turn freely when needed.

How tight should I install replacement pedals?

Torque pedals to 35-40 Nm using a torque wrench. This prevents loosening while riding but avoids damaging crank arm threads by overtightening. Striking this ideal tightness comes with experience.


While removing and installing mountain bike pedals can be daunting the first time, the process quickly becomes fast and easy with the right tools and techniques. Always properly grease threads, use the correct threading direction for each side, and tighten pedals to the ideal torque specs.

Regularly servicing your pedals will keep them spinning smoothly for many miles of happy mountain biking!

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Biker And Author | + posts

Mahin Abrar is a passionate writer and outdoor enthusiast. As a regular contributor to, Mahin shares his knowledge and experiences in the fields of biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. With a deep understanding of these activities and a keen eye for detail, he offers valuable insights and practical advice to help readers get the most out of their adventures. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, Mahin's writing is sure to inspire you and guide you on your journey.