My bicycle pedal fell off today while riding to work. I don't have a wrench at work. How can I install the pedal again so I can safely ride home?

  • 3
    Maybe ask around whether a collegue or the resident IT-guy has the necessary tools?
    – arne
    Apr 7 '14 at 12:38
  • 2
    @arne Better yet, a maintenance guy.
    – jimchristie
    Apr 7 '14 at 13:48
  • 6
    Is it not possible to just thread it in by hand? Pedaling causes the thread to self tighten a little once it's in there.
    – Aaron
    Apr 7 '14 at 13:49
  • 2
    Many pedals have a socket for a hex key on the end of the axle. So you can use a hex key (allen key) instead of a pedal wrench. Usually needs a 6mm or 8mm allen key.
    – vclaw
    Apr 7 '14 at 14:22
  • 8
    If the pedal fell off then something's wrong -- either it was not threaded in correctly in first place (did someone force a left-hand pedal into the right arm, eg?) or the bearings have gone bad in the pedal. (And note that if it was the entire crank arm that fell off (which is much more common) then the crank arm and possibly the spindle end are very likely damaged and in need of replacement.) Apr 7 '14 at 15:35

Assuming you normally make effective use of two pedals...

  1. Identify a nearby place where tools are available to purchase or borrow: a bike shop, hardware store or some other premises where tools are used.
  2. Ride these using the other pedal that I assume is still functional.

If you have platform pedals, bind your foot to the other pedal using tape or narrow cable-ties. This binding should be weak enough to release your foot if you forget and lean that way, but strong enough that you can turn the crank through 360 degrees using one pedal.

If your local terrain has significant undulations, bear in mind that your power output will be reduced and the leg whose foot is secured will be working more continuously and may fatigue quickly. Consider a more distant tool-source if it offers a flatter route or fewer interruptions.

Good luck!

  • 1
    When you re-install the pedal, clean and apply grease to the crank and pedal threads to ensure appropriate torque. Check both interfaces for missing or visually-inconsistent threads. Consider removing and reinstalling the other pedal to ensure it is not also preparing to escape its servitude.
    – Emyr
    Apr 7 '14 at 13:49
  • Making a makeshift toe clip sounds like a disaster waiting to happen for a rider that doesn't normally use them -- something I might do if I was stranded and had no other choice, but I certainly wouldn't want to try to learn how to use home made toe clips on my ride home and risk snagging my shoe and not being able to get my foot out if I need to.
    – Johnny
    Apr 7 '14 at 18:55
  • Hence I suggested a makeshift strap that should be weak enough to release your foot if necessary. I wasn't suggesting riding all the way home, just to the nearest place he could get a tool.
    – Emyr
    Apr 8 '14 at 11:34

If you can get it to start on the threads by hand then you can tighten it enough that you should be able to ride carefully home. I've done this before, but its messy (as in, on your fingers).

The threading should make the pedal secure itself (or at least not back out) when pedaling forward, but might get wacky if you tend to backspin or goof off with your feet at intersections. Of course, if your cranks are on backwards...

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