When it comes to the world of bicycles, every component plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable ride.
Among these components, bicycle pedals hold a special significance as they serve as the direct connection between the rider’s feet and the bike itself.
However, when it comes to replacing or upgrading pedals, many cyclists wonder if bicycle pedals are universal.
Bike pedals are not universal. There are different types of pedals and these have different sizes and systems.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the different types of pedals and the different pedal thread sizes so that you can better understand why bike pedals are not universal.
The Different Bike Pedal Types
When it comes to bike pedals, there are three main types: platform pedals, clipless pedals, and toe clip pedals. Let’s go over each these:
Flat / Platform Pedals
Platform pedals are the most common type of bike pedal. They are simple and easy to use, with a flat surface that provides a stable base for your foot.
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Platform pedals are ideal for casual riders, commuters, and mountain bikers who need to quickly put their foot down for balance.
One of the main advantages of platform pedals is that they are inexpensive and widely available. They also work well with any type of shoe, including sandals and flip-flops.
However, they do not provide any additional power or efficiency, which can be a disadvantage for serious riders.
Clipless pedals are designed to keep your foot firmly attached to the pedal, providing more power and efficiency.
They are commonly used by road cyclists, triathletes, and competitive mountain bikers.
Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats that lock into the pedal.
Plus, they have different cleat systems. Some popular cleat systems include SPD, Look, and Speedplay.
One of the main advantages of clipless pedals is that they provide a more efficient transfer of power from your leg to the bike. They also help to keep your foot in the correct position, which can reduce the risk of injury.
However, clipless pedals can be expensive and difficult to use for beginners.
Toe Clip Pedals
Toe clip pedals, also known as cage pedals, are a hybrid between platform and clipless pedals. They have a flat surface like platform pedals, but with a cage that wraps around the front of your foot.
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Toe clip pedals provide more power and efficiency than platform pedals, but are not as restrictive as clipless pedals.
One of the main advantages of toe clip pedals is that they provide a good balance between power and ease of use. They are also cheaper than clipless pedals and do not require special shoes.
However, toe clip pedals can be difficult to get your foot in and out of, which can be a disadvantage in certain situations.
Are Bike Pedal Threads Universal?
No. There are 2 main thread sizes – 9/16 inches and 1/2 inches. The 9/16″ pedal with 20 threads per inch, is the most commonly used and considered the standard in pedals.
The other size thread is 1/2 inch with 20 threads per inch. It’s less common and is mainly used in children’s bikes and BMX bikes.
Some cheaper bike brands may use this size as well.
There is also an old style French thread that is far less common, which measures in at 0.55 inches x 20.32 TPI (14 mm x 1.25 mm).
Are Bike Pedal Clips Universal?
No, bike pedal clips are not universal. There are various types of pedal clip systems available, and they are not interchangeable across different brands or models.
Some popular clipless pedal systems include:
SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics): SPD cleats are commonly used for mountain biking and they feature a two-bolt attachment system.
Look Keo: Look Keo cleats are primarily used for road cycling and have a three-bolt attachment system.
Speedplay: Speedplay cleats have a unique design and offer a dual-sided entry. They have a four-bolt attachment system and are available for road and off-road cycling.
Time: Time pedals use a different cleat system with a four-bolt attachment. They are mainly used for road cycling.
How To Tell If My Pedals Are 1/2 Or 9/16?
The easiest way to determine if your pedals are 1/2 or 9/16 is to check the number of parts that make up the crank.
If there are two or three parts, the bike needs 9/16 inch pedal threads.
If it has one single crank, it will need 1/2 inch pedal threads.
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The 9/16″ is the most common pedal thread size on the market today and is the size that most manufacturers use for their pedals. Almost all modern adult bikes have the 9/16″ pedal with 20 threads per inch (tpi).
Another way to tell if pedals are 1/2 inch or 9/16 inch is to measure the thread width manually using a set of calipers or a standard ruler.
A 1/2 pedal has a spindle with a diameter of 1/2 inches, while a 9/16 pedal has a spindle with a diameter of 9/16 inches.
What Happens If I Use The Wrong Bike Pedal Size?
Mismatched pedals and crank arms can lead to various compatibility issues.
Using pedals with incompatible thread standards can make installation challenging and result in poor pedaling efficiency.
It may also damage the threads, making future pedal replacements difficult.
Overall, while bike pedals are not universally compatible with every bike, there are many options available that will fit most adult bikes.
There are different pedal types and these have different thread sizes or cleat systems.
Can I switch out my bike pedals with any brand or type?
Assuming you have flat pedals, you can switch bike pedal brands as long as the thread is the right size for the crank on your bike. You can switch clipless pedal brands if the cleat system is the same.
Do left and right bike pedals have different thread directions?
Yes, left and right bike pedals have different thread directions. The left pedal has a reverse thread, meaning it tightens counterclockwise and loosens clockwise, while the right pedal has a regular thread, tightening clockwise and loosening counterclockwise.