No, all bicycle pedals are not universal. This is because they come in two main different sizes and different variations/makes. Bike pedals can be either 9/16 inch or 1/2inch. 9/16-inch bike pedals are more common than their ½ inch pedal counterparts. You can also get specific pedal sizes used in children’s bikes. However, there is a standardization when it comes to bike pedals. This is because most bikes can be fitted with the 9/16-inch pedal.
Bike pedals are not made unique to their specific bike brands or bike models simply because it would be harder for people to find replacement especially because new bikes are made every year. Still, all bike pedals come in different configurations.
Let’s go over a few bikes pedal configurations
9/16-inch Bicycle Pedal
This is the most common bike pedal. These bike pedals have a 9/16-inch screw thread which is the part of the pedal you connect to the bike. These pedals are very common for standard adult bikes.
½ inch bike pedal
This pedal is not as widely used as the 9/16 pedal especially in more modern bikes. It is commonly used in children’s bikes and inexpensive adult bikes. The main difference between this and the 9/16-inch pedal is the size of the screw thread.
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Other Pedal Sizes
Like mentioned, kids’ bikes have different pedal configurations. Not only that, they come in various sized and makes depending on the bike or tricycle. In most instances, bike brands design their own pedals which means you will have to go to them for a replacement pedal.
How can you tell if your pedals are 9/16 or ½ inches?
The best way to tell whether you have the 9/16 or ½ pedals is to take apart the crankset on your bike. How to tell you have 1/2inch pedal bike – if you take apart one crank arm and the other arm remains on the other end of the axle, then you have a one-piece crankset which can be fixed with the 1/2inch pedal.
How to tell you have a 9/16inch pedal – when you take apart the crankset and are left with a crank arm on your axle and another detachable one (2-piece crankset), your bike can be fixed with any 9/16-inch pedal.
What to Consider When Choosing Bike Pedals
The Type of Pedals
Despite them having the name ‘clipless bike pedals’, you actually have to clip these pedals into your bike. Clipless pedal was a name given to this style of pedals to distinguish them from toe clips. Toe clips are clips designed to keep your feet from slipping while you ride.
Platform/Flat bike pedals
These are the most familiar/common types of pedals. Platform pedals are flat and can be used with any footwear. You can find different sized flat pedals for different sized bikes.
Traditionally, flat pedals were made with heavy plastics which did not withstand all weather conditions like rain. More modern flat pedals are made slip-resistant and more durable. Unlike clipless pedals, these are not made for heavy use. that’s because they do not give users a secure fit in any conditions like the clipless pedals would.
The Type of Riding and Terrain
Clipless pedals work best for road cycling because they give cyclers a secure connection between the bike pedal ad the shoe. This translates to efficiency and power during cycling.
Most road bikes have pedals that have cleats with a 3 holed design. They are often made out of plastic and are larger than their counterparts (cleats with a 2-hole design. 3-hole cleats produce further from your sole than 2- hole cleats.
Because 3-hole design features a larger cleat, it can spread force applied to your pedal over a larger area. In turn, the connection is secured and pressure points are reduced when peddling a road bike during high stress loads.
Unlike the previous ones, clipless pedals meant for mountain bikes have cleats with a 2-hole design. Thy are recessed into the sole, which allows bikes to walk on rough mountain terrains.
As a mountain biker, you should get clipless pedals because they offer better control and pedal efficiency especially when you are cycling up a mountain or hill. With clipless pedals, mountain bikers don’t have to worry about the foot slipping off the pedals while riding a rough terrain.
For more casual riders. Flat pedals of pedals with a 2-hole cleat system works best. This makes it easier for riders to get on and off the bike or walk around when they need to.
Commuting back and forth from work or school requires a powerful bike. If it is over long distances clipless pedals seem more efficient but this would mean carrying shoes that match the lifestyle.
Things you need to keep in mind when replacing your bike pedals.
Installing pedals by yourself is doable. You do not need to go to the repair shop to get the pedals replaced. While it is an easy procedure, it can be a bit complicated for beginners due to simple mistakes.
Here are some things you will need for replacing your bike pedal.
15mm spanner or 8mm hex key
The 15mm spanner is great for pedals with parallel faces on the spindle between the crank and pedal body. Make sure the 15mm spanner is small enough to fit between the pedal body and crank.
The 8mm hex is good for pedals with hexagonal sockets at the end of the spindle. Make sure you get a hex with a long handle to make the work easier. T-shaped hex with sliding ends is better because it allows you to avoid the chainrings.
How to Tell Right From Left Pedals
Left and right pedals have different threads, which is why you need to fit the correct pedal on each side of your bike.
While the right-side pedal screws in like everything else, the left food petals crews in the opposite directions. The left pedal turns clockwise to loosen and counter-clockwise to tighten.
The right pedals are standard threaded which means you install and tighten them by tuning the spindle clockwise and loosen them by turning them counter-clockwise. (Left to loosen and right to tighten)
How Do You Tell Them Apart?
Pedals come indicated whether they are for your right or left side of the bike. You can find the symbols R and L stamped somewhere on the pedal. Check the body of the pedal, end of the spindle or wrench flats of the pedal for indication.
Bike pedals are not universal; there are factors you have to consider when choosing the pedal for your bike. While the 9/16-inch pedal is more universally used for many bike brands, it will not suit everyone’s need. Most older bikes require a ½ inch pedal while more modern bikes especially hybrid, road and mountain bikes will require a 9/16 pedal.
How can I tell what my bike pedal size is?
If you have digital calipers, you can use them to measure the width of the thread to know your bike pedal size. Alternatively, you can check on the manufacture’s website or ask them to identify the specific pedals if they are the original ones. Another way is to check with your local bike service centers where you get repairs for your bike.
Why is the left pedal reverse thread?
It is designed that way to prevent it from unscrewing while the rider is peddling. if designed with the standard thread, this means the cyclist will peddle forward and the spindle will rotate in the opposite direction to the crank arm. This will cause the peddle to loosen and fall off.