QUESTION: I get your emails and I have a question that I’d love to see addressed. There’s been some press about the company Peloton has had a recall of their pedals which reportedly have caused a number of accidents by shearing off. Here’s one article about it: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/peloton-recalls-pedals-after-multiple-injuries-what-to-know
I am completely mystified by this. I have never heard of pedals shearing off an I would guess my pedals (speedplay frogs) are well over 15 years old. Is this unique to this company or is there a real issue and should I (and other riders) be replacing pedals regularly? — David D
RBR REPLIES: I don’t have any special information about Peloton, but I have a theory about what might have happened. I own a Stages SB20 smart bike myself, which is very similar in construction to a spin bike or the Peloton.
My Stages SB20 is a big, heavy beast that weighs over 100 pounds. It is completely solid, like a piece of furniture. When I climb on it, I’ve noticed that I tend to put a lot of weight on one pedal, because the bike doesn’t move at all or lean over like a regular bicycle would when you climb on.
What I suspect could have happened is that Peloton might have under-engineered that first pedal so that it sometimes failed when people put all their weight on it climbing onto the bike. Again, I have no special knowledge. I am just guessing, based on my own experience with a similar type of indoor bike.
I run Dura Ace pedals on my Stages smart bike that are probably at least 10 years old and I don’t really worry that they will break. I’ve got a cyclist’s build though, and only weigh around 150 pounds.
It never hurts to regularly check all your important contact points on your bike like your handlebars, seatpost, saddle and pedals to make sure they aren’t cracked or bent. Just recently our Tech Talk expert Jim Langley wrote a column that mentioned a reader’s saddle or seatpost failure, and there were several reader comments about similar failures.
Overall, I’d say that pedals on a road bicycle probably don’t face the same type of stress as on a stationary bike. Even so, I still feel safe on my decade-old Dura Ace pedals on the Stages smart bike, because I believe them to be well made.
I’d be curious to know if any readers have ever broken a pedal, and under what circumstances.
Raleigh Fehr says
I haven’t personally, but a friend had it happen to him with a set of speedplay pedals. The various models each come with a different weight and he had opted for the lightest weight. But along with the weight of the pedal, in fine print is a maximum weight capacity of the rider (same with most wheel builds). Some of us older riders aren’t as svelte as we were when we were younger have picked up a few pounds over the years. Anyway, my friend was dancing in the pedals up a hill when one of the pedal stems snapped. It wasn’t pretty.
I have noticed a similar pedal issue,,,one that can also cause an accident.
I have purchased several sets of flat pedals recently, some of which have come off the crank arm when pedaling. The pedals were all installed with correct tightening pressure./torque The failures all were with the left pedal…but not sure if this is relevant. What I did find as a potential reason is that not all of the pedals rotated freely. I suspect that it is possible for a pedal which does not rotate freely to actually unscrew when pedaling. I now make sure to check for any friction of pedal rotation and adjust the spindle nut to eliminate friction (where a nut is available). I do not yet have enough trial-and-error time/evidence to determine if this is the real problem and solution….just a warning of recent experience with flat pedals.
Mark Follmer says
I had a left pedal crank arm break while standing up on it. I went down, dislocated my shoulder, permanent damage.
It was a 180mm Dura-Ace 7800 series. It had a lot of miles on it, but no sign of wear or damage before it snapped. It snapped right about in half..
I sheared off a right Look old school Delta pedal as I rose out of the saddle for my first sprint interval…again, not pretty. I had used the pedals for 10+ years and had recently switched to Shimano SPD-SL on my main road bike. I moved these Looks to my winter bike…I was much heavier when I used these pedals for a ton of steep climbing while training in the SFBay Area for rides like the Death Ride. I now consider pedals, like anything, having a shelf life and need to be checked periodically.
Chuck Z says
Since you asked, I’ve had three broken pedal axles over the years, one first gen Time, and two Look, all had steel axles. After the first incident, I realized that there had been a warning of sorts, a soft clicking sound with each push on the affected side, and maybe the sensation that something wasn’t quite right, like the pedal was bending away from the crank. I concluded that there must have been a crack first (clicking) that eventually spread to the point where the axle failed. The warning period was brief, maybe 20 or so revolutions, So, I was kind of prepared, and soft pedaling on the last two incidents in unsuccessful attempts to get to my destination before the pedal axle failed. Fortunately, all three failures were at low speed with relatively uneventful landings, unlike the crank arm failure. But, that’s a story for another day. FWIW, if you think this is happening while out on a ride, and a call for assistance is not feasible or not palatable, I think your best bet is to just gear down and shift to one-leg pedaling if the terrain permits.
Mark Linehan says
Another reason that pedals might fail on a trainer is that we sweat a lot indoors — much more than outdoors in most situations. Not to mention that when moving down the road, our sweat will tend to fall behind us while indoors it’s straight below us — where the pedals are! Sweat can certainly cause rust and might start or encourage a crack.
Steve Weeks says
I’ve never broken a pedal despite weighing a bit over 200 pounds. I did break a left-side crank on my folding commuter bike. The crank felt “soft” and luckily I spotted the problem before a catastrophic failure. I was at work (I’m a dentist) so I made a “cast” of dental acrylic around the fracture. I rode *slowly* and made it home.
There were some issues with folding pedals several years ago. The pedals would snap off at the folding joint. The problem was caused by some riders not keeping their feet properly placed on the pedals, resulting in their entire weight being born by the folding joint… which was not designed for this. Sort of poor design.
I had an old Look 296 pedal fail on me years ago. If I remember correctly, I was hammering away from a stoplight that haf just turned green. I didn’t crash, but could easily have. I weigh abou 200 #s and have strong legs due to a lot of hill climbing. I once sheared off a crank just below where the pedal attaches.