Which Way Do Bicycle Pedals Unscrew?

Are you new to cycling but really enjoy it and want to learn more about regular maintenance on your bicycle? Maybe you’re traveling, and you need to make some adjustments to assure the bicycle fits in the storage area without damaging anything. There are any number of reasons you might be looking to remove your bicycle pedals. Of course, doing so requires some basic tools and knowledge if you want to avoid damage to your bicycle, which probably cost you quite a bit. Take a look at some simple tips and information that can help you with which way bicycle pedals unscrew and the best way to go about it.

The Tools of the Trade

Before you get started, as with any task, you should make sure you have your bike tools ready at hand. Typically, you’ll use one of two items to unscrew the bicycle pedals. You may need a pedal wrench in the correct size, which should be somewhere around 15mm (could vary by brand and type of pedal). Alternately, you might need an Allen key/Allen wrench to do the job, also in the appropriate size.

Something else to consider is how long it’s been since the pedals came off, or if they ever have at all. If it’s been a while, or if they have never come off, you could probably use a spray or two of penetrating fluid so that they are lubricated, which will help you more easily get them started without causing any damage.


While not everyone thinks ahead, it’s important to be safe in all projects, and if you aren’t careful in this particular effort, you could really hurt yourself. So, to avoid injury, you can protect yourself by making sure the bicycle chain is placed onto the big ring.

Also keep in mind that the two pedals are threaded in the opposite direction of each other before you end up tightening one even further or breaking something. Which one goes which way? Let’s look at the removal process to find out.

Removing the Pedals

Start on the drive side, which is the right-hand side, and turn the crank arm so it’s set to the 3 o’clock position. Then, you want to place the spanner in line with the crank arm. Once this is set, put your foot on the spanner and push down to rotate it. With the use of your foot rather than your hands, you have more of your body weight behind it, which gives you additional leverage. It also helps keep you from hitting your hands on sharp edges and blunt objects while you work. Once the pedal is loose, keep rotating the tool until the pedal comes free.

Now you can move on to the opposite side and rotate the crank arm until it’s pointing to 9 o’clock. Then, you need to place the wrench or Allen key in line with the crank arm again. As before, push down with your foot in order to use the best leverage to get the wrench to turn.

Note that, if you are using an Allen wrench, you have to insert the key into the axle opposite the pedal before aligning with the crank arm and pushing down. All other steps remain the same.

Which Direction?

Obviously, you’re going to turn the wrench two different directions, but how do you know which pedal turns what way? There’s a simple rule of thumb to keep in mind, in case you have trouble picturing clockwise and counterclockwise.

For those who can easily follow those directions, pedals rotate counter clockwise on the drive side – or right side – and clockwise on the non-drive or left side. However, if you can’t seem to picture that, consider this – both sides of the bicycle have the pedals rotate toward the back.

In other words, you’ll press up over the top from right to left (toward the rear of the bicycle) on the right side and up over the top from left to right (toward the rear) on the left. This simple rule of thumb will help you retain the visual until you’re in the situation and able to make use of your knowledge.

Why Remove Pedals

Why is this an important task? Why would you want or need to change your bicycle pedals? Sometimes, like regular maintenance on a motor vehicle such as an oil or brake change, you have to make sure your bicycle is always in good working order with little check ups and small replacements.

This is true of the pedals as well. Pedals can start to feel loose and wobbly, with a lot of play in them that makes riding extremely inefficient and taxing as you try to make up for that looseness with your own talent. However, this is typically a sign that the thread has worn out and it’s time to change your pedals.

In addition, if they just feel rough or different from what you’re used to, it’s time to examine the pedals and determine – most likely – that it’s time to change the pedals. If you’re struggling in any way, you may want to start looking at your pedals as a source of dysfunction. Of course, that’s not always the problem. It’s just as likely in many cases that there are other parts of the bike that clearly need maintenance.


If you take precautions and use some of the tips above, unscrewing bicycle pedals doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, replacing your pedals can be a very quick job. You just need to be careful not to get injured or try so hard that you strip the threading, so the pedal and assembly are both problematic. Take your time, analyze, and be sure you’re careful with your bike. It’s your vehicle, and it’s up to you to keep it safe and in good repair. Changing the pedals is one aspect of many that will assure you get the most out of your bicycle’s performance.