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Apologies if that has been asked before; the search function shows up related but ultimately different issues. Here's what's going on:

As I pedal along, occasionally the left pedal will be reluctant to turn nicely so as to stay horizontal and nicely level with my foot.

At the very least it will make a protesting clicking sound. Occasionally it will just completely refuse to rotate, which awkwardly bounces my foot.

So I got off the bike to see what happens. If I try to manually turn just the pedal on the crank arm, it's not a constant resistance. Rather, it'll turn a bit, then offer a big resistance that I can violently push past, producing another crunchy click grind sound.

Would anybody know what's going on here? Time to replace the pedal? Or just some tender love and care?

EDIT: Details of bike. Commuter bike. Officially 10 years old but pretty much everything got overhauled in the last 5 years, with a complete cassette / bottom bracket replacement last year. 27 speed (3x9), not sure what derailleur style would be. The one that most normal commuter bikes have, I guess? Hub isn't geared.

  • What kind of bike? Single speed, derailleur style, geared hub? How old? – Daniel R Hicks Jan 23 at 18:15
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    Sounds like the bearings are shot, possibly some even cracked, and are jamming. – DavidW Jan 23 at 19:47
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The pedal bearings are failing in some way. This may range from a ball or race physically broken to a simple lack of grease.

Depending on what kind of pedals you have you may be able to service or replace the bearings. The video linked at the end of this answer shows what's required to do so. It's possible but somewhat of a pain. You have to have the correct tools, if you have to replace balls you have to figure out what size they are etc etc.

If you have simple flat pedals the easiest option is to simple replace them as this type of pedal is inexpensive and easy to get hold of. Pretty much any bike shop should be able to sell you a pair and install them.

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    Definitely simple flat pedals that are getting on in years; I'd have no issue replacing them. – Lagerbaer Jan 23 at 20:40
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    You might try going into a modestly upscale shop. Not so high end that they expect to sell fancy pedals along with the bike (those bikes don't ship with pedals) but high enough that a fraction of their customers will opt for clipless pedals and discard the flats. In my experience, if you talk to a repair person (not a sales person) they may just hand you a surplus pair. – DavidW Jan 23 at 20:58
  • Thanks for that tip. I'm based in Vancouver, so lots of those bike shops around, but also lots of community bike shops that have lots of spares and stuff. – Lagerbaer Jan 24 at 17:49
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Perhaps a broken ball in your ball bearing. You can quite easily and cheaply buy replacement balls but in general the bearing races are harder to get replacement parts for (however if they are quite expensive pedals you might be able to find them). Replacing a ball is quite doable. Unscrew the nut at the end of the pedal axle. Pull the pedal off (make sure not to lose any balls), clean everything and reassemble. Also check bearing race condition whilst you have the pedal opened up.

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Try to just remove the pedals, clean them really well, then reinstall the pedals. If you have the tools and grease on hand this is very fast and easy to do. It might not solve your problem but it might and costs basically nothing in time and money to try. If you don’t have the tools or grease, you can buy them at any bike shop for under $20; or maybe your friendly local bike shop will do this for you.

If you really like the pedals for some reason then sure, get them repaired or try to repair them yourself as others have already suggested. Otherwise, just throw them away and get a new pair of pedals. Pedals aren’t expensive unless you want them to be, and they’ll last for years, so this is the easiest solution.

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