Thursday, July 2, 2009


Today I did something not merely dangerous but absolutely foolhardy. I attempted to use my tool kit to perform a mechanical task. As I have noted before, if you hand me a tool kit you might as well go ahead and hand me a box of gauze, some bandages and a phone with 911 on speed dial. I proved the truth of that sentiment today.

The mechanical task in question was a simple one – swapping out the pedals on a bike.

I have a 16 year old who has decided he wants to try riding. I’m letting him use my trek 1000, and I had two options – spend 200 bucks for him to get a pair of shoes and cleats to use the clipless pedals that are already on there or spend 25 bucks for a pair of pedals with toe clips.

Guess which one I chose.

I went to my friendly local bike shop and talked to Steve, wrench extraordinaire. Steve showed me how to put the pedals on.

(Once, after I got my handy dandy and (till now unused) toolkit, Steve asked, “You’re just dying to use that toolkit, aren’t you?” I admitted it, and he said, “Don’t be in such a hurry.” It was good advice, and, for once, I had the wisdom to follow someone’s good advice.)

“Now, this is the left pedal,” Steve said, pointing.

“How do you know?”

“These ridges right here,” he said, pointing them out. Then he flipped the pedal over to show me that part the he didn’t need to use but that I did, “And also because it says ‘L’ right here. But we use the ridges.” I know he did, because he hadn’t even glanced at the label, but the label was just about my speed.

Steve then explained that the pedals are opposite threaded. They both loosen toward the back of the bike and tighten toward the front, which, as Steve pointed out, makes perfect sense. If you’re pedaling, you don’t want that action to loosen one of the pedals.

I got home, and my Lovely Lovely, busy cleaning out a hamster cage, saw what I was doing and said, “I thought it was lefty loosey and righty tighty.”

“Don’t go there,” I said. “Not with pedals.” I really gave the impression that I knew what I was talking about and, for once, I actually did, thanks to Steve.

Anyway, at the cost one smashed finger, I did get the pedals changed out, which is pretty good for me. I handled tools and didn’t need a trip to the emergency room afterwards. Excellent.
I tried the bike out just to make sure that I hadn’t somehow damaged something, and it worked find, although I did discover that, after several years of using clipless pedals, I have lost the knack of getting my feet into the toe clips. I can do the first one all right, then I get rolling and try to get the second foot in, but the toe clip makes the pedal want to hang upside down so you have to flip it over and jam your foot in there without either falling over or hitting something…I was pretty good at it once upon a time, but those days are gone. Pretty soon we’ll see how good a new rider is at it.

I’m busy rehearsing all the things I’ll need to tell him, starting with the fact that, contrary to the opinion held by nearly all teenagers, he is neither invulnerable nor immortal. Also, there are rules of the road. Wish me luck. At least I’m not having to teach anyone how to drive. That’s a plus.

See you on the road.

1 comment:

  1. Good work! I tried to change out a set of pedals knowing about the revearse threaded thing. But I thought that meant that both pedals worked like righty loosey lefty tighty. I got one off just fine and the other was so "stubborn" I bent my wrench. I wish someone had told me that both pedals loosen back tighten front. Would have saved a perfectly good Craftsman wrench. Oh well...I'll know next time!