Taking care of your bike is part of being a good cyclist. And pedals are an important part of your bike. This means giving them the proper maintenance they need. But does that mean greasing them or not greasing them?
Bicycle pedals need to be greased for them to function properly long-term. Your pedals are affected by dirt and moisture. Not greasing your pedals can lead to problems like corrosion, rusting, and other forms of wear. These issues will shorten your pedal’s life span significantly.
Pros / Cons of Greasing Bike Pedals
There are some pretty major benefits that come with greasing your bicycle pedals. For example, greasing pedals…
1. Makes Pedaling Easier
The threads on your pedals can be worn down by dirt and sand. Which will make it very difficult to pedal smoothly. Grease stops water, dirt, and dust from getting in between the pedal threads and crank arms.
This makes pedaling much smoother so that you’re not exerting a bunch of energy trying to work your pedals.
2. Prevents Corrosion
Galvanic corrosion is a chemical process where two metals, that are in contact with each other, fuse. If the thread and the crank arm on your bike are made of different materials, galvanic corrosion can occur.
This will make it very difficult to pedal, and even more difficult for you to remove your pedals and replace them with working ones. Greasing your pedals is the best way to prevent corrosion.
3. Makes Removal and Installation Easier
Greasing your pedals makes installation and removal a painless process. Greasing lubricates the points of contact. This makes it so you can tighten the pedals to the necessary torque settings without trouble.
Try installing pedals without grease, you’ll find that there is much more resistance than there is with grease.
4. Lowers The Chance of Rust
Nobody wants a rusty bicycle. But if you fail to grease your pedals they can get rusty. This will affect the performance of your pedals dramatically. And can even stop them from working completely.
5. Prevents Squeaking
The constant sound of metal squeaking can be one of the most annoying things ever. Greasing will prevent you from having to hear that tiresome high pitch noise every time you pedal.
6. Stops Pedals From Locking
If your pedals aren’t being greased, your mechanisms can start to jam. This will ruin the whole flow of your ride.
It can be extremely frustrating and dangerous for pedals to lock in place during a ride. Greasing can often be the way to prevent this from happening.
There are no cons to greasing bicycle pedals. Grease can not harm your pedals. Over greasing isn’t a problem either, because any excess grease will come off while you’re riding.
The only issue that can come from greasing your pedals is if your pedals are so soaked in grease that they’re slippery while you’re riding. But that isn’t likely to happen.
Although there are many positives to greasing pedals, is it really a necessity?
Can You Put Bike Pedals On Without Grease?
It is possible to put bike pedals on without grease, but it is not recommended. Pedals don’t need grease to the extent that other bicycle components do. But your pedals will last much longer and operate much better if you grease them.
Grease is most important for long-term use.
You may be able to put your pedals on and take them off easily without grease at first. But if you plan on having your pedals on for a long time, grease is necessary. Pedals should always be greased before they’re screwed in.
But a pedal’s grease requirement can vary depending on the pedals you have.
If your pedal’s axel is titanium it is better to use titanium installation paste or copper paste instead of bicycle grease. Normal grease doesn’t prevent the speedy bonding and oxidation process that occurs between titanium and other materials.
But no matter the material, lubricating your pedals will make your life a lot easier. In the long run, removing and installing your pedals without grease would be extremely difficult and damaging. When it’s time to swap your pedals out you’ll be glad you greased them.
So, although you can put pedals on without grease, it’s better not to.
But what do you do if you don’t have access to grease for your pedals?
Are There Alternatives to Pedal Grease?
If you’re at home and you don’t have any access to grease, you can use Vaseline.
Vaseline works well as a replacement for pedal grease. It can be used without many issues. The only downside is that it melts at lower temperatures in comparison to pedal grease.
And because Vaseline melts at lower temperatures it will not last as long as pedal grease.
Vaseline (petroleum) is a good quick alternative when you have no grease. But you should make it a priority to apply actual pedal grease as soon as you can.
If you’re thinking of using Vaseline on your bike chain, you should read our article about alternative chain lubricants first.
Can You Use Chain Lube on Pedals?
Chain lube can work as an alternative if you don’t have any grease. It will not harm your pedals.
Chain lube encompasses all of the qualities of a good pedal grease. It is a lubricant, prevents corrosion, and reduces friction. The only issue is that it won’t last very long. It will get washed out pretty quickly. Even quicker than Vaseline will.
Using chain lube is better than nothing, but Vaseline would be a better alternative.
Chain lube and Vaseline aren’t the only alternatives to pedal grease. Ant-seize is commonly used as well.
Should You Use Anti-Seize on Bike Pedals?
Anti-seize can be used on bike pedals, though it does not function the same way as grease. It can be used to prevent corrosion, but it should not be used as a lubricant. The main purpose of anti-seize is to prevent corrosion. So if anti-seize is used on bike pedals, it should only be used where two different types of metal connect. Otherwise it can be damaging.
It is better not to use anti-seize on anything that moves or spins because it can wear out the part. Grease works as both a lubricant and anti-seizure. This is why it can be used on moving parts. It both lubricates the pedals and prevents corrosion.
Anti-seize is a type of lubricant, but not one that works well on pedals. It is not good for fast-moving applications because it is formulated with high-solids content. Which can cause parts to jam. Grease on the other hand, reduces the friction between two surfaces. Which allows them to pass over each other with less effort.
Your pedals need a lubricant that will do more than anti-seize does.
If you’re desperate, anti-seize can be used short-term. As long as you will have access to grease shortly after. But it will not work nearly as well as grease.
In the long term, it could make it difficult to remove your pedals. Not only that, but anti-seize is very messy. It can be more of a hassle than anything.
Should You Grease Clipless Pedals?
Like your average pedal, clipless pedals should be greased. Doing so will extend their lifespan and improve their performance. Here’s a quick video that gives an overview of the process:
In addition to the the application of grease (as shown in the video above), you can also lubricate clipless pedals, particularly the surface of the “jaws” where you clip in your cleats.
Lubricants like this are good because they bond to the surface of the pedal and the cleat. This creates a protective barrier that not only improves the pedal’s performance but doesn’t attract dirt and dust.
This can make it easier to enter and exit the pedals.
And if you’ve used clipless pedals before, then you’ll already know that there’s nothing like that frightening moment when you need to stop and you can’t unclip from your pedals. Proper maintenance (paired with unclipping technique) can help you avoid those moments.
A well maintained pedal will also prevent squeaking. Which can get extremely annoying.
You don’t want to have to buy new pedals. Start greasing your pedals and you can make them last much, much longer.
If you want to learn more about bike pedals, check out our article on bike pedal FAQs.