My Pedal Fell Off My Bike!


Written by: Cheryl


I was recently in an accident and (mildly) injured because my bike pedal fell off. Why did it happen? And how can you prevent it from happening to you?
No comments, Be the first to leave one
Subscribe Me!

When I approached the stoplight at the intersection near my house, I was heading out for a ride, and the light was red. I prepared to stop, starting to lower my dropper post and brake when it turned green. Seat back up, stand on the pedals a bit to get into the seat and get going, and WHAM! Before I knew what was happening, my left bike pedal fell off, and I was on the pavement in the middle of the intersection 1

This post may have affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link and subsequently make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This helps to pay the costs of running this website.

As soon as I assured myself that I could get up after my bike pedal fell off, I grabbed the bike, ran out of the intersection, sat down until I could assess myself, and then walked home.

Fortunately, my bones held up. Nothing was fractured. My chin was bleeding. My left elbow had swelling in the joint capsule — and still won’t extend as easily or completely as it usually does, and I had a massive goose egg on my right thigh, which did not completely go away until a couple of months later. I fell on my left! All I can figure is that my saddle whopped me in the thigh. Anyway, the pavement was hard, the fall was unpleasant (as falls generally are), and it left me afraid to get back on this bike that I had started to love.

I had just purchased another Gore Phantom Cycling Jacket after my old, used one got coated with bike grease accidentally after I had an on-road repair 2 I was amazed and thankful that it didn’t rip and saved my elbow skin. The skin on my knee wasn’t so lucky. Maybe I need to cover my entire body in GoreTex.

I was also grateful that when my bike pedal fell off, it was in low-traffic conditions, and no cars were close to me. I could have been much more seriously injured if I had gone down suddenly with traffic nearby.

Pedals don’t normally fall off a bike. Cyclists stand on pedals routinely. It’s something we do. Suddenly having one come off is like having the ground suddenly pulled out from underneath you; you have to trust that your pedal is going to take your weight.

So why WOULD a pedal suddenly fall off a bike? Why did mine fall off? What can you do to prevent it from happening?


The video basically goes over the same things as this post, though in less detail, with me looking at the cone and cup bearing system on the pedal that was involved in the accident. Note that I do not actually adjust said pedal in this video!

Why did my bike pedal fall off ?

If your pedal comes loose or falls off, it generally indicates one of two problems: a problem with the pedal or the crank arm.

Fortunately, the reason my pedal fell off fell into camp #1 3

Installing bike pedals

This post isn’t about installing bike pedals, but I think I need to mention the subject here.

You likely know the following information if you’ve ever installed bike pedals. But perhaps you don’t if you’re someone who has a bike shop do 100% of your work and (like my spouse) stays content with the pedals that came on your bike.

I fall into the first group. I too frequently switch out different bike parts, so I’ve installed pedals on my bikes a number of times.

When you put pedals on a bike, the right pedal screws on the way you’d typically expect. The left pedal screws on the opposite way.

Generally, pedals don’t just unscrew themselves; they tend to tighten up as you ride.

Reason #1: Problem with your crank arm

However, even if you’ve installed pedals before, you can start to make a mistake. Maybe you’re thinking about other things and not being “mindful” of what you’re doing, as installing pedals is “old hat.” And you find that you’ve tried installing a pedal on the wrong side or screwing it in the wrong way even though you know better.

Such things can mess up the threads in your crank arm.

The guy at my favorite bike repair shop admits they even sometimes make mistakes. If so, they just back off and use a pedal tap tool to clean out and fix the threads in the crank arm, and then put the pedal in the right way.

I did not do this. I didn’t have a crank tap set and thought I would be “fine” when I found myself making a mindless mistake, and I just pulled the pedal out and then put it back in the right way.

This could cause a bike pedal to come loose. But it may be an easily fixable problem, not necessarily a reason to go out and buy yourself a new crank.

Of course, if your pedal keeps coming loose repeatedly, there could be a problem with your crank arm—you might need to replace it. If you’re like me, you don’t want the pedal to fall off your bike more than once!

After my bike pedal fell off, I took it to a bike shop for diagnosis instead of trying to figure it out myself. And, indeed, I had messed up my crank threads with my ham-handed attempt at screwing in the pedal the wrong way. Fortunately, the bike repair guy told me that the problem was fixable. 4

The verdict was that, though the crank arm threads needed some cleaning out, the fault was for reason #2: the pedals were not rotating freely.

Reason #2: Stuck pedal bearings/pedal cannot rotate freely (the reason my bike pedal fell off)

I’ll start with an honest admission that I do not really want to make: I noticed on the last couple of rides before my bike pedal fell off that my pedal was not spinning as freely as usual. However, it was rotating, and I mistakenly thought it was rotating “enough” and would not be a problem.

The pedal did not just fall off the first time I rode this bike. The problem occurred on a bicycle I built as a DIY winter project. At least DIY was the intention — I’ll admit that the bike shop near my house started recognizing my voice on the phone. To test it out and get back in a bit better shape before taking it to the road, I’d put it on a Wahoo Kickr and had been Zwifting (click here to use our referral link to try Zwift free for 30 days) with it during the winter.

My last ride just before the accident was a fun, muddy meander on a local trail. I returned home dirty but happy, having decided I really liked this bike, and lovingly gave it a wash down as it was covered in mud. 5

My pink bike the day before my bike pedal fell off.
Having muddy fun in Port Townsend on my pink bike just before the fateful day my bike pedal fell off.

The pedals I installed on the bike are relatively well-known and have a reliable history. However, they have adjustable bearings. I don’t know if they could have got crud in them during my muddy ride that caused them to seize up. My bike repair guy didn’t attribute the issue to dirt but just pointed out that the pedals were not rotating freely. “I think they just unscrewed themselves as you were riding.” Indeed, the bearings needed some adjustment. He tried to fix them and the crank threads so they wouldn’t fall off again but added, “If you wanted to replace anything, I’d replace the pedals, not the cranks.

I had not even noticed that the pedal was loose. After this, I’ll be checking my pedals repeatedly. My husband won’t want to ride with me anymore!

Prevent this from happening to you!

A word of advice: manuals always tell you to inspect your bike before riding. Please do it! At least a quick check! If your pedal is rotating but not spinning as freely as usual, don’t ignore it. If your pedals are adjustable, come with a manual, and you feel comfortable doing mechanical stuff yourself, see if you can adjust them. If not, take it to your local bike shop. But don’t ride it this way.

Pay attention when you’re installing your pedals. If you’re talking to your friend and then notice you’ve started trying to screw the pedal in the wrong way — stop! Back off and examine your crank threads. Check with your bike shop if you need clarification on whether they’re OK.

If it’s a repeat problem and your pedal freely rotates, it might be a more severe issue with your crank arm. If you’re not a mechanic (and you’re likely not one if you’re reading this), please consider taking it to your local bike shop for inspection. They’ll tell you if it’s fixable or if you need to replace the crank.

You were using platform pedals! Would this have happened with clipless pedals?

I added this question here because someone asked me: Would this scenario have happened if I had been using clipless pedals? Who knows? Probably not, because it would have been a different set of pedals in different installation circumstances.

But I see no reason why it couldn’t have happened with clipless pedals under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances.

I recently started using flats after years of using clipless pedals. I’m not 100% sold on platform pedals, but I decided to make the change now that I’m not riding a speedy road bike or trying to race.

I think that if I was clipped in with the SPD pedals I used to always use when my bike pedal fell off, the result would have been much the same. Who knows? It could have been even worse if my foot was still clipped into the right pedal when I fell.

Indeed, I wouldn’t have had to venture out into the street to grab my errant pedal—which had flown off the bike quite a distance—but I probably would have ended up removing my shoe to get out of the street, as I know from experience that it can be difficult to unclip an SPD pedal affixed to a shoe that’s not attached to anything else.

Since then, I purchased different pedals, not glamorous and shiny ones like the ones that fell off, but the same black pedals I have on my bike as they’ve been good to me. I’ve started riding my me-built and me-powered bike again — a bit. But since my pedal fell off, I am trying to re-establish trust with this bike I lovingly call the “pastel disaster.” Hopefully, I can rebuild my relationship with this bike I worked so hard to build — but my eye has already been straying to other bikes. 6

Have your pedals ever fallen off your bike? Do you have any additional input on this topic?
Have your pedals ever fallen off your bike? Do you have any additional input on this topic?x

You can leave a comment below. Also consider signing up and helping me to create the Cycling General Topics group and forum on this website. I’ll enter this as a topic in the forum there as well.

How many cups of hot coffee does this deserve?

Click on a mug to rate it. To leave a written review use the comment section or, in the shop, use the reviews tab.

This post got 0 mugs out of 0 votes.

No votes so far! Be the first to rate it.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are so sorry that you found this post like a weak cup of swill!

Leave some feedback about why.

Let us know why you gave this post a low rating. We may or may not share your feedback with the post's author. If you want to leave public feedback, leave a comment.


  1. Though it gave me the chance to see how the incident video recording feature actually works on my Garmin RCT715 radar. I’ll need to update that post![]
  2. Just an excuse to get a nice, new, yellow one. I love these jackets because the sleeves come off if you get too warm.[]
  3. Fortunately, because replacing the crank arm is more expensive than replacing the pedals — though the manufacturer did offer me a refund or replacement. However, I have to admit I ignored signs I should not have ignored.[]
  4. Though I have not ridden the bike enough since then to verify that the pedal is not going to betray me. I’ve considered putting the bike back on the trainer for a bit to reassure myself but, then, I was riding it on the trainer for quite a while with the pedal staying put before this accident.[]
  5. Hey the bike frame brand is Crust — I figured it better get some crust on it now that it was finally riding out in public.[]
  6. But this bike is quite a weird, custom — and pricey as I went overboard — bike that will need to find just the right owner if I ever decide to sell it. Bike shop guy tells me that there is not such a thing as too many bikes. But I am reminded of Velominati Rule #12, which I have already broken by having just two bikes. And yet if I have three, I have, perhaps, exceeded the number that will result in separation from my partner.[]

Get New Bike Posts by Email

Subscribe to our monthly "Bike Hub" newsletter and get notified of new cycling posts and routes. This form will ONLY sign you up for bike content. IF you'd like to sign up for other content you can do that here.
You can unsubscribe at any time you wish from a link in the footer of email newsletters that we send.
You might also be interested in:
Washington State Cycling Laws and Rules image of female cyclist on a road bike

Washington State’s Cycling Rules of the Road

If you cycle in Washington State, there are some rules that every cyclist should know. Continue reading to discover what they are and why they are important.

stick figure cyclist with pedal having fallen off for the my bike pedals fell off post

My Pedal Fell Off My Bike!

I was recently in an accident and (mildly) injured because my bike pedal fell off. Why did it happen? And how can you prevent it from happening to you?

Installing Garmin Varia RCT715 on places other than your seatpost

Using the Garmin Varia RCT715 Bike Radar When You Can’t Install it On Your Seatpost

The Garmin Varia RCT715 (and other Garmin Varia radar units) are great for improving safety -- or at least your feeling of it -- on the road. However, they're designed to be installed on your seatpost. What if your bike setup doesn't allow for that? Here are some possible solutions.

Subscribe to comment notifications
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedback
View all comments

Subscribe by Email

Want to keep up with our crunchy granola-like mixture of variable content? Subscribe here, and we'll send you a weekly digest of new stuff from our site, a monthly newsletter of upcoming events from our calendar, and occasional multi-content newsletters.
If you'd like to subscribe to other, specific, content areas, you can do that here.
You can unsubscribe at any time you wish from a link in the footer of email newsletters that we send.
Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Manage push notifications

notification icon
Opt in to get browser notifications for new posts or for member notifications.
notification icon
Please wait...processing
notification icon
Opt in to get browser notifications for new posts or for member notifications.
notification icon
Please wait...processing