BMX pedals are a fundamental part of a BMX; helping riders control their bikes, affecting their bike’s performance and the safety of the rider, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t get far without them. You may be wondering what size BMX pedals you need, and we have the answer to take your BMX bike and your BMX riding to the next level.
A BMX bike’s pedal size is determined by the bike’s crank design. All modern BMX bikes feature a 3-piece crank with a 9/16-inch spindle and thread size. Kids’ BMX bikes have 1-piece cranks with a ½-inch spindle and thread size. The larger 9/16-inch size increases pedals’ strength, rigidity and control for BMX bike riders for improved power transfer, safety and balance.
BMX pedals may be small surface areas but they serve large tasks: every square inch of a pedal is important in keeping full control of your BMX bike as you launch over a jump, aim to grind or whip the tail out. If you’re new to BMX riding and looking to upgrade or customize your BMX bike’s style and performance with new pedals, you’ll need to know which ones you should fit to your bike to enhance performance. Join me as I deep dive into why and how important the correct size BMX pedal is for your beloved BMX.
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How to Find the Right Size BMX Pedals
We’ve mentioned that there are two BMX pedal spindle and thread sizes:
- The more common 9/16” found on modern BMX bikes
- The ½” used on kids’ bikes.
The larger pedal spindle and thread size enable BMX bikes to withstand incredibly high levels of stress from high jumps and hard landings to soak up punishment with ease that would leave other bicycle types in cracked pieces on the ground.
Those 3-piece cranks don’t only make for easier maintenance and improved performance, but also more robust and more rigid.
While the early, first-generation BMX bikes used the ½” pedal spindle and thread size, these were found lacking in toughness, strength, and rigidity for ever-more daring BMX riders.
In response to the development of BMX bikes and BMX riding styles and their demands on components, BMX bike makers adopted the larger, stronger and tougher 9/16” spindle and thread size.
With 3-piece cranks – similar to those of road and mountain bikes – BMX riders of all heights, weights, sizes and power could pound the pedals without negatively affecting their BMX bike’s performance.
To easily identify your BMX bike’s spindle and thread size, look at your bike’s crank.
If it is a 1-piece design, then you’ll need to shop for ½” pedals. It must be noted that ½” pedal sized threads and spindles are found on bicycles with 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-inch wheels; junior bikes don’t require the more expensive, more robust 3-piece crank design as those riders aren’t as powerful as riders large and tall enough to pedal 20-inch wheeled BMX bikes.
If you’re still unsure, you can grab 2 tools that will help you remove any further doubt and confusion:
With 12 mm and 15 mm open wrenches, you can slot them onto the wrench flats (the gripper section on the pedal spindles connecting to the crank’s arm) to see which one fits best for loosening/tightening the pedal. If the 12 mm open wrench fits, then your BMX bike features a ½” pedal size.
Once you’ve learned which pedal size your BMX bike has, continue to read on to determine what you should look for in your next set of BMX pedals and the various choices open to you. Taking into account your level of ability, your preferred style of BMX riding, and regardless of your mechanical aptitude, we’ve got all the details below.
What Should I Look for in My Next Set of BMX Pedals?
There are three aspects to consider when looking at BMX pedals:
Durability: BMX pedals are constructed from a number of different materials to suit the different styles of BMX bikes and BMX riding. Materials most commonly used are nylon, plastic, chromoly steel, and aluminum. The tougher the material, the greater its durability. For BMX racing, riders will seek the lightest possible pedals while Flatlands and Street BMX riders favor width, grip, and comfort over lightweight.
Grip: BMX pedals must first and foremost offer riders exacting levels of grip to successfully perform their stunts. If a rider isn’t able to properly find enough grip on the pedals, they’ll be unable to put down enough power to their bike’s pedals to properly execute tricks. Most BMX pedals feature small studs or pins (made of metal or plastic) called grippers to offer riders’ extra grip no matter where their foot is on the pedal, and pedals vary in width to accommodate riders’ different shoe sizes for the most traction and comfort on the pedals.
Price: As with most things in life the more a person pays for something the fancier the gadget will be, and it is no different with BMX pedals. However, all BMX pedals feature the same basic design traits. More expensive pedals feature sealed or cartridge bearings, lighter weight materials and complex designs for customization.
What Are the Types of BMX Pedals?
BMX bike riders are spoilt for choice when it comes to pedal designs. However, you need to choose the correct pedal types for your riding style. Basically speaking, there are two types of pedals available for BMX bikes: clipless pedals and platform pedals.
Clipless pedals are small in size, lightweight and require cycling-specific shoes called cleats to clip into them to form a sturdy base. With your foot and shoe serving as the pedal, this is a complex and somewhat tricky pedal type and it is best suited to BMX racing. Why? Clipless pedals allow BMX bike racers to pedal their bikes as fast and as powerfully as they possibly can without their feet slipping off the pedals. What’s more, by clipping into the pedals, their power transfer is far greater: they are able to push down as well as pull up on the pedal for continuous power.
Platform pedals are heavier and wider than clipless pedals to offer a wide surface area for greater contact for feet for grip and control of the BMX bike’s maneuverability. Platform pedals allow you to pedal with more force on the downward stroke of the pedaling action while also offering the rider more support and more freedom to adjust their foot position to perform various tricks.
How Do I Change My BMX Pedals?
You’ve learned that riding style, BMX bike type, shoe size, stance width, pedal size, and crank design influence your BMX pedals’ size, and you’ve found a set to not only enhance your bike’s performance but to also add your own individual style to your bike, you now want to know how to fit your new pedals:
- You’ll need a 15 mm flat, open wrench. These are available from most hardware stores, but search out the thinnest one you can find and afford to slot into the narrow gap to easily reach the spindle.
- The safest and easiest manner to remove and install pedals is to flip your BMX bike upside down, resting it on the saddle and handlebars.
- Each pedal requires a slightly different removal and installation process. To loosen the right-hand side pedal, turn the wrench counter-clockwise. The left-hand pedal’s thread is reversed, so you’ll need to turn the wrench clockwise.
- Install the right-hand side’s pedal first. You can tell which is the right-hand side’s pedal by the description on the spindle or the pedal’s end cap marked with an “R.”
- Before installing the pedals, add a thin layer of grease to the pedal’s threading to prevent any unwanted friction and rust from the metal-to-metal contact.
- To tighten the right pedal, thread it clockwise. Remember that the left pedals are threaded in reverse; always tighten your left pedal in a counter-clockwise direction.
- Flip the bike back onto its wheels and test your pedals to ensure they’re properly tightened before you take a ride.