Cycling - Gear/Equipment

Cycling Gear: All about Bike Pedals (A Quick Guide for Cyclists)

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With the advancement of age slowly advances your purpose of riding your road bike. It smoothly transitions from fun and frolic to necessary commute or fitness goals or passion for the sport. The areas of expectations and focus also evolve along. Fancy horns, baskets are soon replaced by practical aspects to enhance the efficiency of your bike that will ultimately aid your purpose of biking. Bike pedals is one such important aspect for a smooth and efficient bike ride.

Choosing a bike pedal is one such practical aspect that can make or break the entire experience of riding a bike. It can effectively set apart a smooth and flawless ride from a stressful mud race. A choice of pedals depends on various factors including the purpose of riding, expectations such as ease of pedaling or efficiency or the positives and negatives of available options.

Types of Bike Pedals

Below are the various types of bike pedals with their suitability, advantages, and disadvantages.

1. Platform Bike Pedals

The flat pedals that you may remember from your initial trysts with the bike offer a stable foot support and go well irrespective of shoes. These are Platform Bike Pedals.

bike pedals
Platform Bike Pedals

The latest versions of these bike pedals are built with precision with lighter materials and equipped with a mechanism to keep moisture and dirt accumulation at bay with sealed bearings. Slip control is also improved by virtue of replaceable pics for grip enhancement.

Suitable for: Downhill mountain bikers

Livingit Tip
These bike pedals are pocket friendly pedals and due to their design, they are easy to get off in case of a crash.

2. Pedal Toe Clips and Straps

Pulling up and pushing down with a foot in the pedal stroke is facilitated by frames that surround the toes. These are attached to the front of bike pedals and are called toe clips.

Types of Bike Pedals
Pedal Toe Clip Bike Pedal

They make for a cost effective and durable retention system in conjunction with adjustable straps threaded across the clip from top to bottom.

Suitable for: Mountain biking beginners.

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3. Clipless Bike Pedals

While the name terms them clipless, the mechanism actually calls for clipping into the cleats of the pedal through the multiple springs attached at the base of pedal that holds the shoe.

How to Use Clipless Pedals
Clipless Bike Pedals Source

These bike pedals facilitate high control during high-speed rides or powerful moves such as riding on bumps. The feet are prevented from bouncing off the pedals and that adds to the increased ride control.

They are further divided into on road and off road clipless systems based on the configuration of cleats and suitability for the terrain.

Suitable for: Athletes, experienced bikers or mountain biking enthusiasts that ensure energy saving for longer distances and enhanced speeds of travel.

4. Hybrid Bike Pedals

A little on the bulkier side, these bike pedals combine platform pedals with the clipless mechanism to offer the choice of the pedal to the rider based on shoes and terrain. They ensure smooth movement from platform pedals to clipless systems.

Types of Bike Pedals
Hybrid Bike Pedals

They incorporate the best of both worlds and keep your feet secured in the clipless system with the flexibility to take them off when required.

Suitable for: Regular commuters or those making a move to the clipless system.

Bike Pedal Features

Listed below are the two important features of the bike pedal.

1. Pedal Float

The angular movement that the foot is allowed is termed float. The foot is locked to the pedal post stepping due to the cleat. This varies per system such as fixed angle float, customizable range of float, zero float due to affixed angle of the foot. The choice is at the rider’s disposal and becomes easy with increased experience.

2. Multiple-Release Cleats

While lateral release cleats are most common, they differ subtly from those that release easily at increased angles. They are a bit easier to maneuver than the lateral release cleats and are called multiple release cleats.

Livingit Tip
They do not come essentially with the pedal and can be purchased separately.

Maintenance Tips for Bike Pedal

Clipless Pedals

Cleaning and lubrication may be required in case the engagement or disengagement of cleats become difficult. Upon failure to spot any obvious signs of damage, it is advised to scrub the pedal with warm water to get rid of mud or residue.

bike pedals
Bike Pedal Maintenance

This must be followed by lubrication of the clips with a light lube after drying the pedal. A dual-sided system must be lubricated at both sides.

Toe Clips

Though these are relatively zero maintenance, it is a good idea to put a little of that light lube on the toe clip strap right at the buckle. As you check the tightness of mounting nuts, ensure that they don’t free themselves.

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How to Ride with Clipless Bike Pedals

It may be overwhelmingly fracturing to your confidence to hear of various accidents and injuries owing to clipless shoes or pedals falling apart or inability to release foot from pedal right in time.

bike pedals
Clipless Bike Pedals

It isn’t as intimidating and can be aced well with a few tips that focus on riding and unclipping with ease:

  1. Go light on the pedal release tension
    The tension on the clip mechanism can be released with a screw and it is a good idea to loosen it while learning. It can be turned back up once the rider is confident enough.
  2. Run on minimum release angle of the cleats
    In such cases, releasing foot from the pedal becomes easy due to a lower twist. You may switch to higher angles once you are more comfortable with riding.
  3. Practice clip gain and release while straddling with one foot on the ground
    This will help determine what foot you are likely to put down as you stop.

Pedal Threading

During the early years of mountain biking, people were faced with an intimidating problem of unscrewing the left pedal.

Thus, to tackle this issue, the current pedal threading system came into picture wherein the right pedal has normal threading but the left one has reverse threading. This kind of threading helps overcome the phenomenon called precession that is responsible for the unscrewing of pedals.

Thread Sizes

  • The threading structure of most pedals includes 9/16″ x 20 tpi threads.
  • 1/2″ x 20 tpi threads are included in pedals for one-piece cranks.
  • A 14 mm x 1.25 mm thread was included in old French bikes but is pretty rare now.
  • A large thread size called the Dyna Drive introduced in the 1980s is obsolete now owing to its commercial failure.

Removing and Replacing Pedals

Bike pedals differ on basis of fitting on the axle that may be either wrench flat, Allen wrench or both. The pedal must be turned in the direction of pedaling to be able to be installed.

The complexity of pedal removal is increased due to backward freewheeling of cranks. Turning can be restricted by snugging an old toe strap around the chainstay and crank on the opposite side. The threads must always stay lubricated with oil or grease to avoid corrosion due to exposure to dirt, water, etc.

types of pedals
Removing Pedals

Pedals on a travel bike must be of a length that is easy to carry to ensure easy removal and replacement. A short wrench and foot power are essential to remove pedals on the road. Using an open-ended wrench to turn the crank in a forward facing position and making the wrench face back towards the bottom bracket is the right way to approach it.

Push the wrench using the foot as you hold the bike in your hand. The wrench must reach the bottom bracket axle to prevent the crank from turning forward. An old toe strap may also be used to restrict turning.

Livingit Tip
The crank must be raised or lowered to avoid hindrance from the frame in case an Allen wrench is being used.

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Servicing Bike Pedals

Pedal bearings of a bike must be serviced regularly because they frequently get lower to the ground. Dustcap equipped bike pedals may also fail because the screw-on dust cap falls off. Their tightness must be checked regularly and bearing must be prevented by servicing in case a dust cap is missing.

Many bike pedals other than the inexpensive ones may be rebuilt. The axle must be checked for bends before attempting to service the pedal. Servicing is a breeze when the pedal is off the bike as the axle can be spun. While turning, the threaded end must be at the center, wobbling indicates a bent axle that must be replaced. Bearings must also be readjusted if not running smooth.

Servicing clipless pedals

There are various types of clipless pedals that can be serviced similarly to toe-clippable and plain pedals. Separate manufacturer instructions may also accompany a pedal from a specific brand.

Servicing toe-clippable and plain pedals

Rebuilding and relubrication are possible in most toe-clippable pedals and plain pedals. Adjustment to bearing movements is the most important aspect of servicing them.

Rebuilding these bike pedals is made easier if it is possible to thread the axle in a crank. Old ball bearings must not be used to eliminate the herculean task of inspecting and cleaning them.

Your biking endeavors can be pleasant if you know your bike well and maintain it proactively to avoid any on the go stress. Knowing the bike pedals is an important aspect and will benefit you greatly in the long run.

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