Help me get the pedals off of my bike.
June 24, 2009 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Help me get the pedals off of my bike.

I ended up buying a 'fancy' road bike along with the Long Haul Trucker that you folks told me to get earlier. Stupid, yeah, but it was ON SALE and oh man I couldn't help myself. Anyway.

Something in/near the cranks started creaking a week ago, so I've been disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling every piece that I can. (While I am not sure, it is probably not the crank itself. The bottom bracket was rebuilt near the end of May by a competent mechanic, and I've only gone three hundred miles on the bike since then.) I'm told that, sometimes, creaks that you think are coming from the crank are in fact coming from the pedals, and that, to solve that, one would need to... take the pedals off, clean them, regrease them, and put them back on. I figure, no harm in trying.

The pedals on this bike are absolutely frozen stiff. I can't get them to budge a millimeter.

I can see the threads on the inside of the hole where the pedal bolt (if that's the correct phrase) screws in, so I can see which way the bolt needs to spin off. I'm used to seeing grease around the edges of most bolts and fittings on well-built bikes, but I'm not seeing any on the pedal bolts, which may explain the pain in getting the pedals off. (Every other fitting that I've seen has been greased.)

I only want to get the pedal off on the non-drive side of the crank, since that's where the creak sounds like it's coming from.

I do not have a bike stand. I do have the correct tools to do most jobs on a bike, including a torque wrench.

Even if the pedal is not the cause of the creak, I'll be happy having tried, and happy knowing some tricks on how to get the pedals off efficiently.
posted by suckerpunch to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What's going to help you get the pedals off is leverage. Shops have a wrench extender, usually a big piece o' pipe that fits around the pedal wrench, chain whip, whatever. Otherwise, you're just gonna have to use your weight and lean down. If that's not working, then you're gonna have to take this to a shop.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:21 PM on June 24, 2009

Soak the threads with penetrating oil overnight. Also, pedals are usually left-hand/reverse threaded, so try twisting the wrench like you're tightening the pedal bolt.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:22 PM on June 24, 2009

I use a 10mm wrench and lots of force. The instructions on the link give good pointers on mechanical advantage.

I just removed pedals from a bike that had not been serviced since 1995. So tight I needed a big friend to stand on the opposite pedal while I stood and bounced on the 10 inch wrench. 90 kilos with a more or less 7 inch lever arm is what it took. make sure you are not tightening more, unless that is your plan.

This bikemap is very useful. You don't really need to use their brand tools
posted by dirty lies at 6:26 PM on June 24, 2009

Those are instructions for removing the pedals from the cranks, if you want to overhaul the bearings in the pedals themselves, Depending on your model, you may need specialized tools or just a pair of normal wrenches.

If you link some pictures I can help you better.
posted by dirty lies at 6:28 PM on June 24, 2009

dirty lies, I do not plan on opening up the pedal itself. What I've been told (by another competent mechanic) is that removing the pedal from the crank and then refitting it to the crank can often help. I'm not frightened of opening up the pedal itself - if that's where the creaking may be coming from, well, all right - but I lack the right tools. (The pedals are Keo Look classics. They have a sort of splined end that I have to find the right tool for. I'm happy enough with square-taper crank pullers and outboard-bearing crank tools, and I'm resisting buying a new tool.)

The pedal should be able to be removed with an 8mm Allen/hex wrench.

While some of the advantage discussed in the Parktools website was obvious, I will try to cut down the angle between the crank and the wrench as much as possible.
posted by suckerpunch at 6:43 PM on June 24, 2009

Drive side is right hand threaded and non-drive side is left hand threaded.

Pedals normally come off with a 15 mm box wrench that goes to the crank - you can see that on the pedal side of the crank arm. If not, the backside of the pedals should have a 6 or 8mm allen key.

As the previous posts said, leverage is key. There is a trick where you use your body weight by standing on the pedal and then using your weight on the wrench with your foot. Hard to explain without showing you. But this will give you the necessary force to get it off.

Also, take it to a bike shop, they shouldn't charge you anything (depending on the bike shop) and you can just get them to show you how to do it.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:48 PM on June 24, 2009

I can understand your reluctance to buy another special-purpose tool, but a regular pedal wrench is perfectly suited to the job, will last the rest of your life and is a much, much better tool than the Allen for this purpose.
posted by box at 6:53 PM on June 24, 2009

About the creaking:

To fix pedal creak, all you should have to do is tighten the pedals. You haven't mentioned if the creak happens (standing, sitting). Creaks are hard to pin down. You checklist should include:
quick release skewers
seat post clamp
saddle clamp
saddle rails

If you're feeling a click while riding, it is most likely a bottom bracket or pedal issue.

(all this courtesy of my bike shop working boyfriend)
posted by sciencegeek at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2009


(in getting the pedal off)

Getting the angle between the wrench and the crank less than 10 degrees was it. I can do the rest.

(At this point, I still don't believe the creak is due to the axle in the pedals. I could waggle this pedal on the crank and hear a click; I don't hear a click when I just move the axle.)
posted by suckerpunch at 6:58 PM on June 24, 2009

box, these pedals have no flat surfaces for a pedal wrench to fit to. I know, I know, I was as shocked as you are.
posted by suckerpunch at 6:59 PM on June 24, 2009

(oh, yeah, I've tried manipulating the pedalless crank as much as possible, and no click. It looks like it's just the pedal-to-the-crank connection now.)
posted by suckerpunch at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2009

Ah, you have Look Keos. Having a pedal with an interior facing hex slot is going to make that much more challenging. I still recommend a shop to do the heavy grunting.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2009

Only place I've ever got creaks from is the joint between the crank arm and the bottom bracket axle, which on my bike is a square taper held on with a nut. Taking these off and putting them back on, in my experience, is a bad idea because the taper is so shallow that the wear caused by crank removal can move the crank arm inward by more than a millimetre when the joint is reassembled. I'm too cheap to buy new cranks, so mine now have shims in those joints, and they creak. C'est la vie.
posted by flabdablet at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2009

Pedals are off, cleaned, greased, and reattached. I'll find out if she still creaks tomorrow - and then I'll go after the seat post / saddle possibilities mentioned by sciencegeek. Thank you all!
posted by suckerpunch at 7:10 PM on June 24, 2009

if you think the creak is coming from down near the pedals, check your bottom bracket.
posted by rhizome at 7:14 PM on June 24, 2009

Keos, eh? No flats? Man, those French people are full of surprises.
posted by box at 7:25 PM on June 24, 2009

The creak I swore was coming from my right pedal turned out to be coming from the rear wheel. There were a series of drive side spokes that were creaking under load. They weren't off enough to cause the wheel to look out of true, but when I swapped the wheel the creak went away, so I tightened up the tension on all the somewhat loose spokes and it fixed it right up.
posted by advicepig at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2009

yea box, this is a trend these days. My crank bros (eggbeaters) don't have wrench flats either, nor do my Time (mtb) pedals. It's a pain in the ass.

advicepig: creaking spokes could just be a case of them not being "pre-stressed" during build. They'll creak and ping until they're seated. run a little lube (prolink is good) into the nipples and give them like a quarter turn, then grab handfuls of spokes and squeeze in patterns of 4 or so (this will make sense when you look at the spoke patterns). This helps alleviate "windup".
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:11 PM on June 24, 2009

advicepig / lonefrontranger : I had assumed that it wasn't the wheel, since the creak only came when my non-drive-side foot reaches the nadir of its stroke. Still, the rear wheel is one of those funky Campy wheels with double the spokes on the drive side, so I'll play around with 'em there. (The wheelset is the cheapest one Campy sells - Khamsin. It's a pretty heavy set. Nothing to drool over.)
posted by suckerpunch at 8:19 PM on June 24, 2009

I had an unidentified creak for several days on my road bike, and it was driving me nuts. To save you the anguish, I'll tell you the ending - it was the seat post. take it out, grease it (lightly) and reinsert and tighten. Chances are your squeak will vanish.
posted by pdb at 9:18 PM on June 24, 2009

Usually it's the seat, but check the bolts on the chainring. If they get loose you might hear a creaking sound.
posted by beerbajay at 4:41 AM on June 25, 2009

Yeah, for me, just getting the windup out of the spokes fixed it. I used the Sheldon Brown trick of over tighten then loosen a quarter turn.
posted by advicepig at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2009

I had a creak I finally traced to my Suntour XCII pedal.

The source turned out to be cracks in the shaft of the pedal itself, radiating from not one, but three of the corners of the hex slot where it screws into the crank arm. I believe I produced these cracks myself by overtightening with the 8mm wrench.

Now I only use the external flat for final tightening on all my pedals.
posted by jamjam at 10:58 AM on June 25, 2009

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