A pedal serves the all-important purpose of propelling a bicycle’s wheels. A pedal is part of a system consisting of some of the wheel parts and the pedal. Because of its connection to the wheel, troubleshooting any problem has to involve examining the wheel too.
The most common issues in a pedaling system involve the pedals refusing to pedal completely, an unusual sound coming from the pedals, or experiencing friction when pedaling.
How To Fix A Bike Pedal
Common Pedal Issues
Though a bicycle pedal is a simple part, it consists of several parts that include a cleat, an axle, body, a crank, a spindle, and pedal bearings. There are various possible issues that can cause your pedals to malfunction. There could be a broken, bent or worn out part. Or the pedal system is too loose or too tight among other issues.
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How old is your bike and when were both pedals last replaced? Remember that the bike and pedals do have a lifespan and if it is age, then it is time to think of new components, other bicycle parts could be worn out too. It may be cheaper to replace the bike than trying to replace each bicycle component.
But if it is just the pedal that is worn out, then it is much easier and more convenient to replace the pedal than trying to replace each part of the pedal separately. But before doing that, it is advisable to first troubleshoot issues that don’t require financing before choosing to replace parts of the pedal or the getting new pedals.
To troubleshoot, first spin the pedals with your hands. They should spin smoothly without friction if the parts are working and well lubricated. Other issues that can go wrong in a pedal include:-
Dirty and Greasy Parts
First, disassemble all the parts of the pedal, then use a microfiber cloth to clean them. To do this effectively, you need tweezers, a screwdriver, grease and a set of wrenches.
Have two containers for keeping components of each pedal. You need a container so that you don’t lose any part. Don’t mix up the pedal components, keep all the parts for the left side in one container and the parts for the right side in another container.
Clean dirt and old grease. Remove old grease by using new grease. Meanwhile, you can inspect each of the parts for bents or if they are broken. After that lubricate all the metal parts of your pedal.
Then reinstall them back and fix the pedals back to the bike. Again try spinning them and try riding the bike to see if the problem is fixed. Henceforth, always clean and lubricate the pedals routinely, at least once a month or after a wet or muddy ride.
If you are a beginner cyclist, it may be a very simple problem of not mastering how to pedal. Maybe you are turning the pedals the wrong way. The left pedal should be turned clockwise while the right one turned counterclockwise.
Your bike has either plastic or metal cleats. Check if your cleats are not tightened well or worn out. Ensure that the tension of the cleats is right, neither too loose or too tight by checking their screwing and screwing them rightly.
The cleat could also be worn out due to the friction caused between cycling shoes and the cleat when riding. In such a case they cannot support the foot well causing a slippage. It is easier to tell when plastic cleats are worn out because they get chipped but a bit harder with metal cleats.
Fix the problem by replacing the cleats. Sometimes the cycling shoes may also need to be replaced because they also get worn out.
Loose or Tight Pedals
Loose pedals can make a clicking sound when pedaling. Simply fix it by tightening the spindle. Usually, it is only on one side, therefore pack your bike and pedal each side alone to know where the sound is coming from. Then use a tool to tighten it back. If they are stiff, then they could be too tight, loosen up the spindle a little to see if they stop being too stiff.
A Bent Pedal Axle
A bent pedal axle results in shaky rides. In such a case, you need to replace the pedal axle.
Worn Out Bearings
Replace your bike bearings after a certain operating period depending on how often you use your bike. A period of 6 months to one year is safe. Therefore if you can’t remember ever replacing them, then the pedal could do with new bearings.
If the above measures fail to rectify the problem, next try to troubleshoot the wheel. If the problem still persists then you can take your bike to a bicycle repair shop.
Common Wheel Issues
Issues with your wheel can cause your pedal to refuse to work. Before, investing in new pedals, first, it is advisable to troubleshoot the wheel and only if the problem persists is when you can now take it to a bicycle repair shop to get the opinion of an expert.
Start by spinning both wheels of the bike. Lift the bike off the ground then spin the wheels. The front wheel is designed to spin faster than the back wheel. Inspect the frame and wheel and ensure that the wheel is not too close or rubbing on the frame or other components it is not supposed to. Another problem could be the springs on the quick release skewers are not aligned well.
Other wheel issues include:-
If the tires have low pressure, they will be hard to pedal. Pump them if they have low pressure to the recommended pressure.
The rim could be rubbing on the brake pad, simply adjust the brake and check for a bent rim.
The bearings on the wheel may be too tight, too lose or rusted. The problem can be fixed by reducing the tightness a little, let your bicycle repair shop handle this.
If the wheel is not aligned well or some parts of the bicycle are worn out or bent, it can cause friction during pedaling. Check if the wheel is rubbing on the bicycle frame. Also inspect the fork, frame or rim if they are bent. Also, ensure that the brake pads are aligned well.
Check the gear, bottom bracket, hubs, and brakes for any kind of malfunction. Ensure that the chain is oiled and still in good condition and it is not stiff.
Now test to see if the bicycle is pedaling well.
A bicycle pedaling system works in conjunction with the rest of the bike and more so the wheel. Therefore, if the pedal refuses to work it can be an issue with the other bike components and not necessarily the pedals.
After troubleshooting both pedals plus the wheel and the issue still persists, then it is advisable to take the bicycle to a bicycle repair shop. And if the bicycle repair shop fails to fix the problem permanently, it may require you to get a new bike.