Are Bike Pedals Universal?- A Complete Bike Pedals Guide

The variation of bike pedals are so vast that the riders often get confused which pedals they should use for their bikes. While looking for the right pedals, the bikers at first encounter this question whether the bike pedals are universal or not. The answer to this question is no, there are multiple factors which showcase why bicycle pedals are not universal.

As there is difference in sizes of crank arms which basically dictate the specific thread sizes for pedals to fit, you can see variations in bike pedals. The distinction of bike pedals also depends on the type of bike you own and the age of the bike that you use.

However, though the bike pedals are not universal, there is some standardization that is followed while making the pedals. It is because you may often need to replace your pedals so having a standard size for bike pedals will help you to change your pedals.

So, the bike pedals which have 9/16” pedal threads are considered to be the standard sizes of the pedals because they cover almost all types of bikes. The other type of pedal thread size is ½”, this pedal is mainly used for old and kids bikes. Here, you can see more detailed discussion on the bike pedals, so, to know more about the bike pedals, go through the rest of the article.

Where is the Main Difference in Bike Pedals?

The bike pedals are only different in their thread sizes, there are two types of pedal threads such as:

  • 9/16” pedal thread
  • ½” pedal thread

One thing you need to remember is that this difference in the thread sizes doesn’t change the pedal performance of the bikes. It is just the size distinction to fit an appropriate pedal to your bike.

In order to know your bike pedal size, measure the width of the thread with a set of digital calipers. Otherwise, you can ask the manufacturer of the crank or you can also take the help of local bike shops to clarify the size of the thread.

What is a 9/16’’ Bike Pedal?

The 9/16” bike pedals are believed to be the standard size to use for the bikes. By 9/16” pedal size, we basically understand the size of the pedal’s screw thread. This screw thread helps you to connect the padel with the bike.

This bike pedal is commonly used in modern adult bikes, in fact, even the bikes from the 1990s have chances to have 9/16” pedal thread. Hence, if you want to buy a set of pedals for your standard adult bike, the 9/16” pedals might be a correct fit for your bike.

What is a ½’’ Bike Pedal?

This bike pedal is not as popular as the 9/16” pedals because of the small thread size it cannot be used in most of the modern bikes. The ½” bike pedal is an old style French thread which measures around 14 mm x 1.25 mm. This size of the pedal thread is suitable for kids bikes and some old-inexpensive bikes, it can be also used for some BMX bikes.

However, don’t think that the small size of pedal means it won’t perform well like the 9/16” pedals. This size difference is only for fitting perfectly in different sizes of threads. So, it is important that you know the size of your pedal thread so that you can choose the right pedals for your bike.

In addition to different thread sizes, the pedals also have differences according to the bike types. Unlike the pedal thread size variations, the distinctions of pedals in bike types, can lead to performance difference of the bikes.

How Many Types of Bike Pedals Are There?

Depending on the bike types, there are variations in bike pedals as well. For example, the pedals which are suitable for road bikes, may not be fitted for mountain bikes. Below is the list of the types of the pedals which will give you a better understanding about the bike pedals.

Platform / Flat Pedal

The flat or platform bike pedals can be fitted for all types of bikes. But, if you are more likely to ride a bike for recreational purposes or to climb the mountain, platform pedals will be handy for you. Besides, it is considered to be an ideal pedal for the beginner bicycle rider. Additionally, the bikes which are made for kids also use flat pedals.

Moreover, this pedal is visually flat and you can use it with your regular footwear. Flat pedals are quite affordable, even though they are made of high quality materials like steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. However, the platform pedals, which are made of heavy plastic, cannot give you better gripping ability in wet weather.

Toe Clip / Cage Pedal

When toe clip pedals were invented, it was considered to be a turning point of pedaling style. It has a toe cage which holds your shoe in a fixed position and increases your pedaling efficiency. This type of pedal is suitable for road and hybrid bikes.

However, with fleeting time and continuous inventions, toe clip pedals have lost their popularity. Compared to the new types of pedals, the toe cage pedal is heavy and not that safe for road cycling.

Hybrid Pedals

Hybrid pedals are the combination of both platform pedal and clipless pedals. On one side, it has a flat surface and on the other side it has a clipless mechanism, hence, it is also called a dual-sided pedals. This pedal will work better for hybrid and touring bikes.

Hybrid pedals will be perfect for you if you want to gradually get used to clip-in pedals but won’t like to be attached to the pedals all the time. When this pedal can be handy for beginner clip-in pedal users, serious road cyclists or mountain bikers who are looking for best performance in their pedals won’t like to use the hybrid pedal.

Clipless Pedals

In clipless pedals, your cycling shoe is attached to the pedals by cleats which increase your pedaling efficiency and make your riding as smooth as possible. In order to get attached with the pedal, you can have two types of cycling shoes such as:

2 holes cleat shoes: The 2-hole designed cleats are for mountain biking pedals which allows you to easily clip-in or clip-out from your MTB bike. Besides, you can have much more comfortable walking on 2-hole cleats than the 3-hole cleats.

3 holes cleat shoes: The 3-hole cleats will give you the best road biking experience by transferring the pedaling power to the maximum level. However, due to this design of your cycling shoe, you may not have comfortable walking. Moreover, the clipless pedals are quite expensive, hence, it may not be preferable to many bike riders.

Having said all about the clipless pedals, now you must have noticed that the name of the padel is contradictory to its described features. The reason behind the naming is that the first manufacturers wanted to make a distinction between toe-clip pedals and the pedals which don’t have toe strap to attach the shoe to the pedals. Hence, it was named clipless pedals where we don’t see any straps for attaching the shoe to pedals.

How to Choose Bike Pedals?

In order to choose right pedal for your bike, you should consider the following points:

Clipless vs Flat bike pedals: If you want to have a more smooth ride with your maximum pedaling power, you should choose clipless pedals. By attaching your cycling shoe with cleats to the pedals, you can push and pull the pedal with the highest energy. This will make your riding faster and efficient.

However, if you would like to quickly take your foot off the pedals and don’t want to bother about specialized footwear, you should choose flat pedals. Moreover, you can use this pedal in any bike but it works much better for recreational, casual and mountain bike riding.

Riding type: If you are a road biker or a cross-country biker, you would need such a pedal which will help you to increase your riding speed. So, in this case you can buy clipless pedals with 2 holes designed or 3 holes designed. But if you prefer pedals where you can easily get on or off your foot, flat pedals will be suitable for you.

Shoes: Your shoe choice is quite important while selecting a pedal for the bike. If you are someone who doesn’t like to expend additional money for specialized cycling shoes, clipless pedals won’t be a right choice for you. So, buy flat pedals if you prefer to use regular footwear while riding your bike.

How to Install a Pedal in a Bike?

Before you start installing the pedals, you would need to collect tools like a rag, a bike grease and an 8 mm allen key or a pedal spanner. Once you have these elements ready, follow the steps to complete the installation:

  • Firstly, you have to clean the pedals with a rag.
  • Then attach the treads in both pedals and put some grease on the threads.
  • Next, in the right crank, insert your right pedal and turn clockwise.
  • Similarly, take your left crank and insert the left pedal, this time turn the pedal anti-clockwise.
  • Lastly, with the help of an allen key, tighten the pedals.

Conclusion

To sum up, the bike pedals are not universal as they have differences in their thread sizes and bike types. Even though the thread size variation doesn’t have an impact on pedal performance, the distinctions of pedals in bike types, texture and materials, can leave an impact on the riding experience of the bikers.

Hence, whenever you want to buy a new pedal or replace an old pedal, don’t forget to measure the thread sizes and also consider the bike type you use. Finally, while installing the pedal, try to follow the given steps to avoid confusion.

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