If you are a cyclist who experiences knee pain, discomfort, or inefficiency while pedaling, you may have wondered if bike pedal extenders are a good solution for you.
Bike pedal extenders are devices that attach to your pedals and increase the distance between them, allowing you to adjust your foot position and alignment. They are designed to help cyclists with various physiological issues, such as valgus or varus deformities, wide hips, leg length discrepancies, or toe-out tendencies.
But are bike pedal extenders safe to use?
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using them?
How do you choose the right ones for your bike and your body?
Here in this article, we will answer these questions and more, providing you with a comprehensive guide on bike pedal extenders.
What are the benefits of using bike pedal extenders?
Bike pedal extenders can offer several benefits for cyclists who struggle with pedaling problems. Some of the most common benefits are:
- Reducing knee pain and injury: By increasing the distance between the pedals, bike pedal extenders can help align your knees with your feet, preventing them from twisting or turning outwards or inwards. This can reduce the stress and strain on your knee joints and ligaments, preventing or alleviating knee pain and injury.
According to a study by SCADA, pedal extenders can also reduce the risk of patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), a common cause of anterior knee pain among cyclists.
- Improving cycling performance: By allowing you to adjust your foot position and alignment, bike pedal extenders can also help you optimize your pedaling efficiency and power output. By reducing the lateral movement of your knees, pedal extenders can help you maintain a smooth and consistent pedaling motion, minimizing energy loss and maximizing force transfer.
According to a study by SCADA, pedal extenders can also increase your cadence and oxygen uptake, enhancing your aerobic capacity and endurance.
- Increasing comfort and stability: By providing you with more space and freedom to move your feet, bike pedal extenders can also increase your comfort and stability on the bike. By reducing the pressure and friction on your feet, pedal extenders can prevent blisters, numbness, and hot spots.
What are some user views on bike pedal extenders?
To give you a better idea of how bike pedal extenders work in practice, we have collected some user views from various sources. Here are some examples of what cyclists have to say about their experience with bike pedal extenders:
- “I have been using 20mm pedal extenders for about a year now and they have made a huge difference in my comfort and performance. I have wide hips and my knees used to hurt after every ride. With the pedal extenders, I feel like my legs are aligned properly and I can pedal more smoothly and powerfully. I also feel more stable on the bike and I don’t have any issues with cornering or clearance.” – John from 5Cycling
- “I bought 10mm pedal extenders for my road bike because I have a slight varus deformity in my right leg. It was causing me to toe out excessively and rub my shoe against the crank arm. With the pedal extender, I can position my foot more naturally and avoid any friction or irritation. It also helps me keep my knee in line with my foot and prevent any pain or injury.” – Lisa from Amazon
- “I tried using 15mm pedal extenders for my mountain bike because I have a leg length discrepancy of about 1 cm. I thought it would help me balance out my pedaling force and improve my efficiency. However, I found that the pedal extender made it harder for me to clip in and out of my pedals, especially in technical terrain. It also increased the risk of hitting rocks or roots with my pedals, which was scary and dangerous. I decided to stop using them and look for other solutions.” – Mike from MTBR
What are the drawbacks of using bike pedal extenders?
Bike pedal extenders are not without drawbacks, however. Some of the potential disadvantages of using them are:
- Increasing the risk of pedal strikes: By increasing the distance between the pedals, bike pedal extenders also increase the risk of hitting the ground or obstacles with your pedals while riding. This can be especially problematic when cornering, descending or riding on uneven terrain. Pedal strikes can damage your pedals, cranks or chainrings, as well as cause you to lose traction or balance and crash.
- Decreasing cornering clearance: By increasing the distance between the pedals, bike pedal extenders also decrease the amount of space you have to lean your bike when cornering. This can limit your ability to take sharp turns at high speeds, reducing your agility and maneuverability on the bike.
- Adding weight and complexity: By adding extra components to your pedals, bike pedal extenders also add extra weight and complexity to your bike. Depending on the type and quality of the pedal extenders you use, they can add anywhere from 50 to 200 grams to your bike weight. They can also make it harder to install or remove your pedals, requiring special tools or adapters.
How do you choose the right bike pedal extenders for you?
If you decide to use bike pedal extenders, it is important to choose the right ones for you. There are several factors to consider when choosing bike pedal extenders, such as:
- The type of pedals you use: Bike pedal extenders are not compatible with all types of pedals. They are mainly designed for flat pedals or platform pedals that do not require cleats or clips to attach your shoes to them.
If you use clipless pedals that require cleats or clips, you should avoid using pedal extenders as they can interfere with the engagement and disengagement mechanism of your pedals, compromising your safety.
- The size of the pedal extenders: Bike pedal extenders come in different sizes, ranging from 10 mm to 30 mm in length. The size of the pedal extenders you need depends on your foot size, leg length and pedaling style.
Generally speaking, you should choose the smallest size that allows you to achieve a comfortable and efficient foot position and alignment.
If you choose a size that is too large, you may experience pedal strikes, decreased cornering clearance or reduced stability. If you choose a size that is too small, you may not get the full benefits of using pedal extenders.
- The quality of the pedal extenders: Bike pedal extenders vary in quality, depending on the materials, design and manufacturing process they use. You should choose high-quality pedal extenders that are made from durable and corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or titanium.
You should also choose pedal extenders that have a secure and precise fit, preventing them from becoming loose or coming off while riding. You should avoid cheap or low-quality pedal extenders that are made from weak or brittle materials, such as plastic or aluminum, or that have a poor or inconsistent fit, as they can break or fail during use, endangering your safety.
How do you install and use bike pedal extenders?
If you choose to use bike pedal extenders, it is essential to install and use them correctly. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Before installing or using your pedal extenders, you should read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You should also check with the manufacturer or a qualified mechanic to ensure compatibility with your pedals and bike.
- Use the right tools: To install your pedal extenders, you will need the right tools for the job. Depending on the type and model of your pedal extenders, you may need a wrench, a hex key, a torque wrench or a pedal extender tool. You should use the appropriate tool for each part of the installation process, applying the correct amount of force and torque to avoid damaging your pedals or pedal extenders.
- Adjust your saddle height and position: After installing your pedal extenders, you may need to adjust your saddle height and position to accommodate the change in your foot position and alignment. You should raise or lower your saddle slightly to maintain a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the stroke. You should also move your saddle forward or backward slightly to maintain a comfortable reach to the handlebars. You can use a plumb line or a goniometer to measure and adjust your saddle height and position accurately.
- Test ride your bike: Before riding your bike with pedal extenders for the first time, you should test ride it in a safe and controlled environment, such as an empty parking lot or a quiet street. You should start slowly and gradually increase your speed and intensity, paying attention to how your pedals feel and how your bike handles. You should also practice braking and cornering with your pedal extenders, getting used to the new position and clearance of your pedals. If you feel any discomfort, pain or instability while riding, you should stop and adjust your pedal extenders or seek professional help.
Bike pedal extenders are devices that attach to your pedals and increase the distance between them, allowing you to adjust your foot position and alignment. They can help cyclists with various physiological issues, such as valgus or varus deformities, wide hips, leg length discrepancies or toe-out tendencies. They can also help cyclists improve their pedaling efficiency and power output, reduce their knee pain and injury risk, and increase their comfort and stability on the bike.