Are Bicycle Pedals Universal?

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The selection of bicycle pedals available to riders is so vast that there is confusion around which bicycle pedals fit which bikes. 

If you are wondering whether bike pedals are universal, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done the research for you.

Are bicycle pedals universal? Bicycle pedals are not universal. In fact, there are two main bicycle pedal sizes: 9/16” and ½”. There are also specific pedal sizes used in kids’ bikes. The 9/16” bicycle pedals are used very often and are the standard in pedals, while the 1/2” pedal and other variations of the bike pedal are used less often.

There are several topics to familiarize yourself with when it comes to bicycle pedals. We will go over each of these topics, as you’ll want to make sure that you select the right pedals for your bike. 

Keep reading to find out more information about the 9/16” bicycle pedal, the ½” pedal, and some other sizes and types of bicycle pedals that could fit your bike.

Why Bicycle Pedals Are Not Universal

Bicycle pedals are not universal. This is because of the various sizes of bicycle pedals available (9/16”, 1?2”, etc.). However, there is some standardization when it comes to bicycle pedals. 

The 9/16” is the near-standard in bike pedals, meaning that the majority of bikes can fit a 9/16” pedal. But since the 9/16” is not the only pedal size available, it can’t be truly said that bicycle pedals are universal.

Luckily, there is an almost-standard pedal size available. It is believed that the reason for an almost-standard pedal size is that pedal replacements are often necessary. 

It would be a headache for people to be on the search for rare pedals every time they need to do a pedal replacement. Furthermore, it wouldn’t make sense for all pedals to be unique to their respective bike brands and/or models.

Wouldn’t selecting bike pedals be easier if 100% of them were made using a universal design? I’m sure it would, but unfortunately, this is just not how it is.

There are so many different pedal configurations on the market. Next, we will go over a few of them.

The 9/16” Bicycle Pedal

The most popular and most widely used bicycle pedal is the 9/16”. The measurement of 9/16” refers to the size of the pedal’s screw thread. The screw thread is the part of the pedal that gets connected to the bike.

The 9/16” bicycle pedal is used for most modern adult bikes. So, if you are looking for a set of pedals for a standard adult bike, your bike likely fits a 9/16” pedal.

The ½” Bicycle Pedal

Unlike the 9/16” pedal, the 1?2” pedal is used on a very small portion of modern bikes. More specifically, you’ll find that the ½” bicycle pedal is found on both inexpensive adult bikes and juvenile bikes.

There is no noted difference in performance when comparing the ½” bicycle pedal with the 9/16” pedal or other pedal sizes. 

In other words, you won’t find that the pedal size affects how smooth your ride is or which terrain your bike can handle. The difference is only a matter of the size of the thread used to attach the pedal to the bike.

Other Bicycle Pedals (Sizes)

There are so many other pedal sizes and configurations, and these will be found on tricycles and other bikes made for kids. Manufacturers for tricycles and bikes for kids like to make their own proprietary bike parts, including pedals.

This means that the consumer has to go through the bike’s manufacturer to obtain replacement parts and/ or repairs.

This is unfortunate for the consumer, but it’s great that these pedals are found only on a minuscule number of bicycles and tricycles.

Types of Bicycle Pedals

The size of bicycle pedal that you need is just one part of the equation. The type of pedal is another.

Exploring the main types of bicycle pedals available will help you to make a decision that will best fit your desired riding experience.

Below we will examine different types of bicycle pedals.

Platform Bike Pedals

Platform bike pedals are the ones that you may find the most familiar. These pedals are visually flat and can be used with virtually any footwear. You’ll find these pedals on bikes for people of all ages

Traditional versions of platform bike pedals are made of heavy plastics and aren’t especially great for gripping in wet weather. But, more recent versions of platform pedals are made more thoughtfully. 

You’ll find that newer versions of platform pedals are lightweight, durable, slip-resistant, and made with material that lasts.

Platform bike pedals are not usually the best choice for those who do more adventurous things with their bicycle, like racing or stunts. 

Instead, platform pedals are best suited to the everyday rider who limits their riding to the street and leaves the stunts to the professionals.

Platform bike pedals are also not made for heavy use. This is because platform bike pedals do not provide a secure fit, unlike other bike pedals.

#My Recommendation

SHIMANO PD-EH500

Main features

  • Versatility
  • Multi-use
  • Platform on one-side and SPD step-in design in the other.
  • Lightweight
  • Solid construction

Check it on Amazon

Clipless Bike Pedals

Clipless Bike Pedals are actually clip-in bike pedals. If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, it’s because the description “clipless” is misleading.

Toe clips were used prior to clipless bike pedals to improve the efficiency of riders’ pedaling. 

The “clipless” bike pedals emerged as a replacement for toe clips, so they are called “clipless” pedals. Really, they are “toe-clipless” bike pedals.

Moving on, clipless bike pedals are a system. There are two parts to the system: the cleat and then the actual pedal. 

It works in the following way: a cleat is mounted to the rider’s shoe and then snapped/clipped into clips on the pedal. This system increases the control that a rider has while biking on all types of terrain.

Clipless pedals are perfect for bikers who do stunts like hopping on and off curbs, speed racing, or ride on rough terrain. Also, if you do a lot of bike riding, you may benefit from using clipless bike pedals. 

These pedals provide a more secure fit than other bike pedals. This means that you’ll be more comfortable riding over long distances with clipless pedals than you would be with platform pedals.

#My Recommendation

SHIMANO Deore XT M8020 SPD Trail Pedals

Main features

  • Adamant design
  • Adjustable
  • High quality material
  • Smooth engagement & release
  • Solid construction

Check it on Amazon

Where to Get Your Pedals

You could go to your local bike shop if you are someone who likes to see and touch your bike equipment before buying. 

Going to your local shop is also a good option if you have any questions about your bike and prefer to talk to someone in person about any issues.

You could also order your pedals online. Amazon.com has a large selection of bike pedals in both the 9/16” and 1/2” varieties.

Bike Pedal Installation

What happens after you get your pedals home?

You’ll need to install them, of course.

You don’t necessarily need to take your bike to a repair shop to get your pedals fitted. You can do this part yourself if you’d like. Hi

While it’s not extremely difficult to install bike pedals, a small learning curve does exist.

You’ll need:

  • A rag
  • Bike grease
  • An 8mm allen key or a pedal spanner

Here are some condensed installation steps from Cycling Weekly:

  1. Clean your new pedals with a rag.
  2. Apply the grease to the thread of both pedals.
  3. Insert the right pedal into the crank and turn clockwise.
  4. Insert the left pedal into the crank and turn counterclockwise.
  5. Tighten your pedals with the allen key or pedal spanner.

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