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I recently bought Shimano SPD pedals for indoor cycling on Zwift. I have not had them very long at all maybe a month.

Every downstroke I hear a loud click on my right pedal. I thought it may have been the cleat in the shoe because the position looked different than the left shoe. I made them match but I still have the issue.

My pedal:

enter image description here

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    Does it click when you are clipped into one side of the pedal but not the other?
    – kmm
    Apr 15 '20 at 22:58
  • This may be a sign of a bad bearing. Not uncommon. Apr 15 '20 at 23:14
  • There's actually a non-zero chance it's NOT the pedal. Noises on a bicycle can be tremendously hard to isolate. The periodic stresses that pedaling produces are transmitted to the entire bicycle. You could have a bad wheel bearing that clicks because when your right foot is pushing down on the pedal your weight shifts just a little to one side in a particular way that makes the bearing click. That's an extreme example, but similar things happen all the time. Do everything you can think of to isolate the problem. Check for loose spokes, swap pedals if you can, check your crankset. Apr 15 '20 at 23:29
  • OP - need to isolate some more. Does the click occur if you pedal backward? Does it always click in the same place, once per rotation? If you pedal repeatedly in the same sector of rotation, does it click-click-click or does it need a whole crank rotation to reset and click again? If you try pedalling seated wearing flat shoes (or no shoes, we don't judge!) does the click still happen? Does the click get more or less if you pedal harder/standing up? Bike is supported correctly in the trainer, right ?
    – Criggie
    Apr 15 '20 at 23:48
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    One thing to check is whether the crank arm is hitting the frame. Though this is unlikely on the drive side. Apr 16 '20 at 0:07
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It's a case of systematically hunting down the source of the click. As Andrew Henle said in a comment it's very hard to understand where a noise is coming from when you are riding on the bike. Once I was convinced I had a click in my bottom bracket but it turned out to be a slightly loose seat clamp.

Try wearing normal shoes and pedal on the SPDs (awkward, but can be done). That will determine if it's the pedal/cleat interface.

If it's still there check for play or roughness in the pedal bearings. Take the SPDs out and re-install your old pedals.

If it's still there then you need to start looking at the BB or drivetrain.

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  • I'm not very familiar with the little SPD cleats and pedals, can the release tension be altered? I've ridden Keo pedals more-comfortably by inserting an old wornout cleat, to provide more of a platform for the flat shoe. Getting them out again involves slacking off the tension a lot.
    – Criggie
    Apr 15 '20 at 23:59
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    @Criggie Some clipless pedals can be adjusted some can't. Shimano SPDs can I believe. Just Google 'adjust spd tension' Apr 16 '20 at 0:05
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    @Criggie The hex bolt at the 6 o’clock position of the photo on the pedal’s lower cage is the release tension adjuster. There’s a + and a - mark if you look quite closely.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Apr 16 '20 at 0:52
  • So I pedaled with sneakers on and still had the issue. I did some tinkering though and I unscrewed my entire right pedal then screwed it back on and the sound went away... I must have not had the pedal screwed on all the way or not tight enough.
    – searayman
    Apr 16 '20 at 20:43
  • @searayman I'm glad you caught that, loose pedals destroy alloy crank arms Apr 16 '20 at 22:07
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If the click is once per pedal rotation, its 90% likely to be a bearing roller/ball or a bearing surface.

The unknown is whether its inside the pedal, or there's a chance its in your bottom bracket.

Other very small and less-likely possibilities include

  • A tooth on the chainring not meshing smoothly with the chain, so it Clicks audibly as the roller drops a little late.
  • A crack in the frame that faces sideways and only moves when the frame is stressed to the left by pressure on the pedal
  • Your saddle/rails/clamps/seatpost clamp - again unlikely, but most of us have a preferred leg which is more powerful than the other. Could be pressure is allowing some movement to click, and because your ears are approximately in-line with the saddle/clamp/bb/cranks/pedals then identifying the source of the sound while riding is hard.

This last can be easier if you get someone else to ride the bike while you get down and look closely (can't try THAT on the open road!)


What its not:

  • Chain (because the click would not be at the same point in the crank rotation)
  • Anything in the transmission after/behind the chain (if it were then the click would vary with gear, and would stop when coasting)
  • Wheels (again speed of click would vary with velocity and not be synched with crank load)
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    The screws on the cleats, are they properly tightened? Also, put a small blob of grease on the front and end of the cleat, where it engages the notch in the pedal.
    – Carel
    Apr 16 '20 at 7:49
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Another possibility is the threads of the pedal. I had a similar problem, and unscrewing the pedal, applying titan grease to the threads and screwing it back in solved it.

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  • Can you clarify what you mean by titan grease? Do you meant copper anti-seize for titanium? If so, then the pedal in the photo definitely doesn’t have a ti axle; Shimano has never made one.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Apr 16 '20 at 20:33
  • Sorry, I used this grease which is marketed as "titan grease" (contains titan oxide), just because I found it at a local shop. I guess any viscous thick grease that is suitable for ball gearings should work.
    – Erlkoenig
    Apr 16 '20 at 20:49
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After playing around, it looks like my right pedal was not screwed in all the way. I screwed it tighter and now no noise!

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!

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