While we may all know the old saying “righty tighty, lefty loosey,” there is one spot on the bike where that adage will only cause you frustration: your pedals. Whether you are assembling a direct-to-consumer bike, swapping pedals or packing up a bike to ship, knowing how to get your pedals off and on is essential.
Most pedals use one of two methods to tighten or loosen them: an allen key slot (usually 8mm) located in the spindle where the pedal screws into the crank arm, or wrench flats located on the spindle next to the crank arm. Increasingly with new bikes and pedals, the allen key installation system is winning out, but the wrench flat system is still quite common. For the latter system, it’s best to use a pedal wrench, which is a 15mm wrench that is thinner to fit the wrench flats without stripping them.
But, when you start putting a bike together, you may be confused as your pedals seem to get tighter when you want them looser and looser when you want them tighter. That’s because only one of the pedals is threaded to get tighter as you turn it to the right. There’s good reason for that.
The pedals are threaded so that pedaling only ever tightens your pedals. This way, your pedals won’t unscrew over time and drop to the ground. Clever, and safe!
Don’t worry, remembering how to turn your pedals to tighten them is easy! No matter which pedal you are tightening, just remember that pedaling tightens your pedals. So tighten the pedal as if it were twisting forward. In other words, turning the pedal bolt towards the front of the bike tightens it, turning it towards the back loosens it.
So while your right side pedal will be right tighty, your left side pedal will be lefty tighty. It can sound confusing, but once you get the hang of it, pedal installation will become second nature and you’ll never turn your pedal the wrong direction again.