On my bike, which I just built out of spare parts, the left pedal seems to constantly be coming loose. It seems to come out about 5m every time I ride ~10km.

It's an old cotter pin crank, and the pedal is a left pedal (there's an L stamped into the end of the screw that goes into the crank). The pedal has a crack in one side of the axle compartment, but I don't think that would affect it.

I thought that these pedals had left-hand threads so that the action of pedalling would work to tighten the screw? If so, why would this be happening, and is there anything I can do about it short of replacing the crank and pedal?

  • 4
    I'm guessing the bearings have failed in the pedal, and the resulting drag is causing it to unscrew. "Precession" will cause a pedal to naturally tighten as you ride, but excessive drag can counteract that. Either rebuild the bearings (the ones inside the pedal) or install new pedals. Sep 18, 2013 at 11:27
  • @DanielRHicks: that sounds like it could be exactly what's happened (considering the crack). I couldn't figure it out at first, and had to look it up, and found this excellent explanation of the precession process. Seems like maybe the broken bearing also might give the plastic part of the pedal some flex, reducing the flex in the pedal axle, and hence reducing the precession effect as well. If you want to post that as an answer (there are some good quotes in the linked article), I'll accept it.
    – naught101
    Sep 18, 2013 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


What I'd do:

  1. remove the pedal
  2. thoroughly clean the pedal threads
  3. thoroughly clean the crank threads
  4. let both dry
  5. apply 2 drops of thread locker on the pedal threads (e.g loctite blue)
  6. fasten pedal on the crank well (e.g 40 Nm)

If it comes loose after that I'd temporarily try another left pedal just to find out whether the pedal or the crank arm is problematic.

Before step #5 you need to inspect:

  • try to see whether the threads of pedal or crank look worn
  • screw pedal in crank by hand (or tool without applying a lot of pressure) until the end
  • was the threading smooth until the end?
  • does the pedal have any serious play within the crank arm? (which can only be eliminated if you screw the pedal very hardly in?)
  • if yes, then the threads may be worn

Sometimes people screw pedals in crank arms with no care or patience and the pedal may not be positioned correctly to be screwed all the way in because its threads overlap badly with those of the crank arm.


Once a pedal comes loose enough to fall out of a crankarm the damage is typically done. The act of the pedal slowly coming loose wallows out the threads of the crankarm, especially the outermost threads. This makes it more susceptible to happening again. If you put it back on tight and it fell out again, it's almost certain that the crank is shot and you'll need to replace it.

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