Description Of The Situation:
1. You prefer platform pedals for mountain bike riding.
2. You appreciate the look, durability, and performance of BMX pedals and want to install a pair on your MTB, but you’re not sure whether this is possible.
The answer to this question is:
You can easily install BMX pedals on an MTB as long as the pedals and the cranks have a matching 9/16″ thread. If your BMX pedals have a 1/2″ thread, you will have to replace their axles or use an adapter before installing them on an MTB.
The Anatomy Of a BMX Pedal
The most fundamental trick in BMX is the bunny hop (basic jump). Without bunny hopping, BMX wouldn’t exist as we know it.
During a bunny hop, the rider lifts the front wheel and then the back one. The lifting of the back wheel involves a scooping motion. The rider presses their toes towards the ground and then pushes back against the pedals to lift the rear wheel.
Platform pedals greatly facilitate this procedure because the rider has more surface to grab with their feet.
Basic BMX pedals come with a wide platform made of very strong plastic. The top of the pedal has small pins designed to increase the friction between the sole and the pedal.
Inside the pedal, there’s a strong axle made out of Chromoly steel. The body of the pedal rotates around the axle. A set of small and well-greased ball bearings at both endpoints of the axle make the rotation smooth.
One part of the axle is secured by a lock nut. The other is threaded and goes into the crank arms of the bike.
MTB platform pedals have a very similar design.
The Threads of the Axle and The Cranks Should Match
If the axle’s threading does not match that of the cranks, it’s impossible to securely screw in the pedals.
Mountain bike cranks have 9/16″ threads and so do BMX pedals designed for 2-piece and 3-piece cranks. Consequently, those types of pedals are largely interchangeable.
In different, BMX pedals made for 1-piece cranks have 1/2″ pedal threads.
1/2″ pedals won’t fit on your MTB cranks because their axles are thinner.
Having said that, you can install those on an MTB after a bit of tweaking which I will describe later down the article.
What Do The Numbers Stand For?
9/16″(14.3mm) and 1/2″ (12.70 mm) indicate the diameter of the axle’s threaded part.
Sometimes that number is followed by 20 TPI (Threads Per Inch).
The TPI describes the number of threads per 1 inch/2.54cm. The greater the number, the smaller/more refined the threading is because more threads have to fill into a 1-inch length.
The lower the number, the larger the thread pattern becomes.
In this situation, both 9/16″ and 1/2″ pedal axles have a 20 TPI (20 threads per inch).
How To Install 1/2″ BMX Pedals On an MTB
When I bought my hardtail bike, I immediately wanted to replace the generic pedals with a grippy model that facilitates bunny hoping.
I bought Odyssey Twisted BMX pedals because they had very good reviews and fit my budget.
Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t aware that BMX and MTB pedals could have different threads and was unpleasantly surprised when I found out that the threads of my cranks and new pedals did not match,
To make it work, I disassembled both models and replaced the axles of the Odyssey pedals with those of my stock pedals.
More than likely, the procedure voids the warranty of my Odyssey pedals, but the “hack” worked, and to this day (2.5 years later) I continue to ride with the same pedals.
The images below describe the axle “transplant”.
1. Knife (or a flat hat screwdriver)
2. 9/16″ (14mm) socket
3. 1/2″ (13mm) socket
4. 15mm (pedal wrench)
Step 1: Disassemble the main pedal and the transplant
To disassemble a pedal, your first have to remove the dust cap. In the photo below, I use the knife of a Victorinox Classic to pry the dust cap of an Odyssey pedal.
You could lift the cap with a thin flat screwdriver too.
Once the dust cap is off the pedal, you have to unscrew the external nut holding the axle.
To do that, you need a 13mm socket and a 15mm pedal wrench. Hold the axle with the pedal wrench while untightening the nut with the socket.
Once the external nut is off, you have to remove the washer and the internal nut.
To do that, slide a 14mm socket onto the washer and inner nut and start untightening the nut while holding the axle.
Once the nut and the washer are removed carefully slide the axle out by holding its thread.
Note: Some bearings will fall out. If you have a magnet nearby, use it to neatly store them while doing the procedure.
After removing the axle, clean the entire pedal with a degreaser.
Repeat the same procedure with the transplant pedal and begin assembly after replacing the 1/2″ axle with a 9/16″ one.
Step 2: Assembly
Grease the axle’s body and both entrances of the pedal.
Place the small bearings into the cavities of the pedal.
Don’t put more bearings than necessary to ensure smooth rotation of the pedal.
Tip: Use tweezers to install the bearings
After installing the bearings on both sides, it’s time to assemble the pedal.
Slide the axle carefully until its thicker part touches the pedal’s body.
Then put the internal nut and tighten it via a 14mm socket. Don’t make it too tight because it will prevent the pedal from spinning freely.
Once that’s done, slide the washer, tighten the locknut (13mm socket), and put on the dust cap.
Rotate the pedal to see if it’s smooth. If you’ve put too many bearings, you will have to remove some.
Option 2: 1/2″ to 9/16″ Adapters
Alternatively, you could also use pedal adapters that screw onto the existing 1/2″ threads.
The Differences Between MTB and BMX Platform Pedals
On a mechanical level, MTB and BMX platform pedals are identical. The main differences are found in the design and the used materials.
BMX pedals are larger, beefier, and often made of very strong and durable plastic. The material lowers the price and reduces the chances of damaging skate park equipment during a failed trick.
Another difference would be the pins. BMX pedals have fewer pins made out of plastic whereas MTB models come with removable metal pins.
Replaceable metal pins increase the longevity of the pedals, but are very harsh on the sole and could cause a painful inquiry during a hit on the shins.
Of course, a plastic pin can also hurt a rider, but the danger is slightly smaller because plastic pins get dull faster.
The table below compares the weight of popular MTB and BMX pedals:
|OneUp Components Comp Platform Pedals||Nylon composite||355g||BSD Safari||Nylon composite||380g|
|OneUp Components Aluminium Platform Pedals||Aluminum||365g||Odyssey Twisted||Nylon composite||411g|
|Crank Brothers Stamp 7||Aluminum||375g||Cinema CK||Nylon and Fiberglass Blend||417g|
|Shimano PD-GR500||Aluminum||533g||Eclat Centric||Plastic||415g|
|Crank Brothers Stamp 2||Aluminum||494g||Kick Hemlock||Nylon and Fiberglass Blend||411g|
|Hope F20||Aluminum||390g||Fit Mac||Plastic||405g|
|BBB MountainHigh BPD-32||Aluminum||592g||Primo JJ||Nylon composite||385g|
|Exustar E-PB525||Aluminum||358g||S&M GNS||Plastic||400g|
|Race Face Atlas Platform Pedals||Aluminum||355g||Salt Slim||Alloy||434g|
|NC-17 Sudpin II Pro Platform Pedals||Aluminum||438g||Shadow Surface||Nylon composite||377g|
|NC-17 Sudpin IV S-Pro||Aluminum||360g||Eclat Plaza||Nylon composite||450g|
|Chromag Dagga||Aluminum||480g||Odyssey Grandstand V2||Plastic||349g|
|DMR V6||Nylon composite||327g||United Supreme||Nylon composite||358g|
|Syntace NumberNine2||Aluminum||300g||BSD Jonesin||Plastic||382g|
Conclusion: On average, MTB and BMX pedals have a comparable weight. If you’re looking for light pedals, the particular model matters more than the style it is designed for.
What Are The Benefits Of Putting BMX Pedals On an MTB
BMX pedals have the following advantages:
BMX pedals are some of the toughest out there because they have to be.
BMX riding often requires the rider to bail out and throw the bike away. There’s also a lot of grinding on ledges which increases the chances of hitting the pedals.
For that reason, manufacturers produce BMX pedals out of very tough composites.
Quality BMX pedals can survive at least a year of hard riding and a lifetime of “calm riding”.
Of course, even the best pedals will require occasional servicing (de-greasing and re-greasing of the bearings).
2. Solid Grip
BMX pedals are very grippy to facilitate the performance of tricks involving bunny hoping. MTB riders who want to learn BMX tricks could find this property highly beneficial.
You can get a nice, durable set of BMX pedals for a very decent price.
Last but not least, BMX pedals have a “street” look to them that some riders appreciate.
The Disadvantages of BMX Pedals
BMX pedals have the following cons:
1. Non-removable Pins
Most BMX pedals have molded plastic pins. Once a pin is worn, there’s no way to replace it. This reduces the overall longevity of the pedal.
That said, I just looked at my Odyssey pedals and most pins are intact even though the pedals are a couple of years old.
2. Beefy Look
Some BMX models look a bit “fat” in comparison to the thin MTB pedals on the market. Some people may find this appearance unappealing.
What You Need To Know
1. You can put BMX pedals on MTB cranks as long as the pedals have a 9/16″ thread.
2. If you accidentally buy pedals with 1/2″ threads, you will have to replace the axles with MTB ones or use 1/2″ to 9/16″ adapters.
That said, it’s recommended to return the pedals and exchange them for the right ones.
3. BMX pedals do not offer supreme advantages over the MTB models. It’s a personal choice.
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