Pedals are so personalized that most road bikes actually come without them, so you can put what you prefer. Every chapter of your bike riding is represented by the bike pedals you use.
When you first start riding your bike, you’ll probably use the standard platform pedals, but as you seek better performance, you will want to go for clipless automatic pedals. If you spend most of your time mountain bike riding, there is a high chance you’re used to the pedals, and you can’t wait to install them on your road bike too. But can you?
There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t!
Mountain and road bike pedals are compatible but optimal for different things. They’re designed for adults with the same pedal thread, which is 9/16″ x 20 TPI. They’re also easy to swap between bikes as they screw in the same spot.
In this article, we will help answer every question you might have regarding mountain and road bike pedals, including their differences and how you can install them on your road bike.
Ready? Let’s get started!
The Difference Between Mountain Bike Pedals and Road Bike Pedals
Whether you enjoy cycling for fun or health benefits, using pedals that you’re comfortable on is key to the real fun.
At a glance, your mountain and road bike pedals may not appear to have any significant difference, but as you use the two, you will quickly realize that they’re designed for different functionalities. While they are universal with a standard size, they have several variations in terms of the size of the cleat attached to the sole.
It is safe to say that the surface of the contact area is what makes the difference between the two pedals. If you enjoy riding both bikes, you might want to know how each benefits your ride to enjoy and add some comfort to your ride.
Road Bike Pedals
Road bike pedals are perfect for long rides. They are more comfortable due to the even pressure spread on your feet by the pedal when pedaling. You’re less likely to experience pain, numbness, or other sensations after a long ride as they allow a more organic movement of the ankles and knees.
Road bike pedals go with large cleats to help increase the contact surface between the pedal and the sole. This is great when riding but makes walking a miserable experience.
Mountain Bike Pedals
When it comes to practicality, mountain bike pedals take a good lead. Mountain bike pedals feature smaller cleats that are easier to unlock from the pedal. Due to the considerable flexibility on the sole of mountain bike shoes, the cleat doesn’t exceed the height of the crampons.
That means you can walk in your mountain bike shoes without feeling like a penguin. Mountain bike pedals are optimized for walking and hiking and other awkward landings that allow you to get in and out of your pedals quickly and easily
Considerations to Make When Installing Mountain Bike Pedals on a Road Bike
There are two technical considerations you need to make when installing your MTB pedals on your road bike.
We’ve already established that MTB and road bikes use different cleat systems. MTB pedals have two-bolt cleats, while road bikes use three-bolt cleats. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot use MTB pedals on road bikes. In fact, you have three other options.
If you have MTB shoes, you’re already sorted. Another option is adding road-to-MTB cleat adapters to your existing cycling shoes. Lastly, you can use multi-purpose cycling shoes that are compatible with both bikes.
The pedal threads should match to mount pedals easily. Fortunately, most pedals have a universal 9/16″ x 20 TPI thread. Let’s explain this better.
- The 9/16″ (14.3mm) shows the diameter of the pedal’s threaded part
- TPI or Threads per Inch indicates the number of threads per inch.
Note that the threads in some pedals can be thicker, but such models are restricted to low-end or children’s bikes. You might want to read the information on the packaging before getting new pedals.
How to Change and Install Bike Pedals
Now that you already know that you can put your MTB pedals on your road bike, it’s time to get it done. If you’ve never changed your own pedals before, you need to be more careful to avoid mistakes that could leave you with a ruined crack or stuck pedal. Here are the steps you can take to successfully change and install bike pedals.
- Start by rotating the crank arm to help provide access and leverage. Put the pedal wrench on the spindle flats. You can also hex-wrench into the port inside the crank’s arm.
- Push slowly but firmly to loosen the spindle. Push clockwise for the left side pedals and counterclockwise from the right pedal.
- Rotate the spindle several times until the pedal is free. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Check the “L” and “R” letters marked on the pedal’s spindle to know which spindle goes where and place each at the intended place. If they’re not marked, check threads; up to the left goes to the left side, and up to the right goes to the right side.
- Put some grease to the spindle threads and install each pedal straight into the side of the crank’s arm at a 90-degree angle. You should be able to do this without any fuss.
- Place the pedal wrench directly on the spindle flats or hex wrench into the holes on the inside of each crank arm
- Now tighten the pedals by turning the left pedal counterclockwise and the right pedal clockwise
- Once you start feeling some resistance, tighten the pedals according to the manufacturer’s specified torque, and you’re set to go.
Don’t forget to inspect the pedals thoroughly before heading out. Make sure everything is in place, and if you’re not sure whether your pedals are in great shape, visit your local bicycle shop and have a mechanic check them for you.