Sunday, February 20, 2011

Please Regrease Me

Commuter pedals in need of lubrication

These pedals have a few thousand miles on them. When I got them, they spun a little too easy for my liking--in my book, new pedals should spin smoothly, but with some drag from the grease. I would have opened them and put in more grease myself, but they need a special axle locknut service tool, a TL-PD40, to hook onto that splined nut on the end. At $2.00, the TL-PD40 might be the cheapest special bicycle tool made in Japan you can buy, but I didn't have one, and didn't feel good about clamping a vise grip on it or something similar.

Tools in descending number of uses: countless, a handful, one (knife for illustrative purposes only, not used here)

Eventually, though, my concerns about the pedals proved out, and I knew I had to open them to get some new grease in there. I popped for the TL-PD40, and clamped a pedal in a vise. Pedals are slightly tricky when it comes to threading. Most drive-side pedals have right-hand threads and screw into the crank arms the normal way, while the non-drive-side pedals have left-hand threads and screw in the other way, so that the normal torque of pedaling doesn't unscrew them. Makes sense, and once you get used to it, becomes second nature. In a similar manner, the axle locknuts also screw in opposite directions, which is made clear by both the tool, and the pedal locknut itself: they have arrows which indicate opposite directions. The tool has writing which says "R Loose" with a counterclockwise arrow, and "L Loose" with a clockwise arrow. My intuition about torque and pedals told me that this may not mean what it may seem to mean, though.

Right pedal in vise, tool ready to turn: which way for loose?
With the right pedal in the vise and the tool engaged, I gave it a little nudge clockwise, and felt it loosen. So, either the instructions on the tool are meant to be read upside down, or perhaps at the South Pole. Or, these pedals are bass-ackwards from actual Shimano pedals, which is very possible. Anyway.

I used the excellent instructions and photos on the Park Tool site to get an idea about what I was doing. After cleaning and regreasing, it gives rather funny instructions for screwing the bearing unit back into the pedal body: "THERE IS NO TORQUE," it states. So I placed the tool as in the photo above, and applied no torque. Nothing happened. I tried applying more NO TORQUE, but still, nothing happened. Deciding that it probably meant "minimal torque, you don't need to be a gorilla and strip the plastic threads, THIS MEANS YOU JRA," I used just my fingers to gently engage and screw the bearing unit back in. After cleaning, regreasing, and reinstalling, the pedal felt just right when I spun it. Good. Get up. Go ride.



  1. I've never overhauled pedals before, but I will be soon. I'm the guy that over-torques things and forgets about the reverse direction stuff. Thanks for posting this.

  2. My new Shimano pedals have a different approach. They state: "If you experience any trouble with the rotating parts...Obtain advice from a professional dealer."

    Odd advice, considering the elsewhere we are warned they "strongly recommend only using genuine Shimano replacement parts." AND "we highly recommend Shimano lubricants and maintenance products."

    My Ritchie pedals, OTOH, were simplicity themselves to regrease. You didn't even need to remove the pedals.

  3. RTP, I was going to mention in the post, that my eggbeater pedals (I have 3 sets) come with a grease port that seems to make it easier to put in new grease. Trouble is, someone online mentioned that this approach forces grease through the sealed bearings, which doesn't seem like a good idea. So I will remove the nut and take the pedal off the axle next time.

    Steve, I still have one pair of Ritchies that keep going and going, long as I remember to put grease in every once in a while.


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