There is a high chance that your road bike, or even mountain bike, will start to feel different, especially if you have had it for a long time. The change in performance can affect you in many ways, and if you ride your bike often, struggling to pedal can make riding your bicycle a terrible experience.
Why Is My Bike So Hard To Pedal? If a chain is not well lubricated, it can cause resistance when pedaling. Also, it can cause the chain to “stretch,” which makes the matter worse. Tire pressure is highly important, and if the pressure is too low, pedaling will become harder. Also, a bike has many moving components that can contribute.
We also need to consider that maybe the bike is just not right for you. If you have recently bought a bike that is hard to pedal, you might need to look at getting a new one. Look, I understand; a hard-to-pedal cycle can be frustrating. So, let’s try to solve this issue in this article.
Lubricate The Chain
I decided to talk about lubricating the chain first because it is the most common reason people start struggling to pedal their bikes seemingly out of nowhere. Remember your chain is responsible for linking all the moving parts together so that your bike can propel itself forward without gravity.
Lubricating your bike chain regularly is considered good practice. There are several benefits to oiling your bicycle chain. These include:
- Lubricating your bike chain can make the bike feel smoother.
- You will experience less friction while pedaling.
- Oiling the bicycle chain increases the bike’s lifespan.
How often you lubricate the chain depends on what kind of riding you do and how often you ride. For example, whenever you go mountain biking, you want to check your chain after every session, and you will most likely need to oil it every two or three sessions.
If you ride two or three times a week on a road bike, you will get away with oiling the chain every three or four months. However, if you commute to work every other day, it is recommended that you lubricate your chain once a month.
Your Chain May Need Replacing
If you have failed to lubricate your chain regularly, there may have been too much wear and tear. A bike chain can stretch, or it can kink. The term stretch is not the most accurate, but it is the one that is used. The chain does not physically stretch; instead, the parts that fit together become loose, making the chain longer.
Most people recommend replacing your chain every 2000 miles, even if you oil it often. However, many different factors can affect how often you do it. Things to look out for are:
- How frequently do you ride.
- How well do you take care of the chain?
- What type of riding do you do?
- The quality of your chain makes a massive difference.
You need to consider quality, especially if you have already replaced your chain with one different from the one that came with the bike. Remember, a low-quality chain will start to kink and stretch sooner than a high-quality chain.
Check Your Tire Pressure
The perfect tire pressure for your bicycle depends on three factors. So, the first thing you need to do is understand what type of tires you have. Once you know this, you can adjust the tire pressure accordingly. The three types that I want to discuss are:
- Road tires: These tires operate best at around 80 psi. If you do not have many bumps on your routes, 100 psi might be better.
- Mountain bike tires: 35 psi is the optimal pressure for these tires.
- Racing bike tires: These tires are similar to road ones but should be between 100 and 120 psi.
The two things you want to avoid is having a tire pressure that is too low or too high. If they are too low, pedaling can become extremely difficult. At the same time, if the pressure is too high, the tire will take excessive wear and tear, and it can become quite dangerous.
If you do not have a wheel pump that shows you your PSI, I recommend taking a bike to your nearest bicycle shop. Most will be happy to help you, and some might charge you a small fee, but that small fee is well worth it, especially if you have an older bike. An expert might also be able to tell you whether or not you need to change your tires.
Adjust Your Gears
Taking time to adjust your gears can significantly impact how the bike rides. The impact can either be positive or negative. So, you will have to test this one out and see what suits your riding style the best, but the main goal is to make you’re pedaling a lot easier.
Also, if your gears do not shift smoothly every time you shift gear, you might struggle to pedal until you get momentum. Another thing to note is if your chain slips and goes up two gears instead of 1, the difference in acceleration can stop you in your tracks, not the bike. I mean your pedaling.
There is a great video that you can watch that explains how you can adjust your gears:
Adjust Your Brakes
When it comes to your bike brakes, unfortunately, there is almost nothing you can do to avoid wear and tear completely. Unfortunately, wear and tear can show itself in different ways, and one of the worst ways, in my experience, is when your brakes become misaligned.
Most bikes have a V brake with two arms that the brake pads connect to. When one of these arms starts to pull in, the brake pad will contact the rims even when you are not pulling on the brake lever.
Not only does this make pedaling your bike more challenging, but it also affects the overall performance of the bike while accelerating the degradation of your brake pads. Luckily it is easy to pull the brake pad away from the rim without getting too technical.
On the bottom of each arm, you should see a small screw. This might require an Allen key in very rare cases, but typically you should be OK with the Phillips screwdriver, mostly a tiny one. Loosen or tighten the screw, and the brake pads should pull away from the rim of your wheel.
Send Your Bike In For Maintenance
It might be possible, especially if you ride a lot, that more than one of these issues is affecting the performance of your bike and making the pedaling feel harder than it should be. Trying to fix some of the problems yourself can be fun, and I highly recommend that anyone who rides a bike familiarize themselves with how things work.
With that said, I understand that not everybody has the time, and you might want to send your bicycle in for a full service. Go to your nearest bicycle shop and ask them how much they charge, although the price could range between $50 to a few hundred dollars.
Be sure to explain what the problem is to the person taking the bike in; this will help them identify where on the bicycle, the problem is, and thus they will be able to fix it quickly.
Maybe The Bike Is Not Right For You
If you cannot identify any of these problems and you have bought the bike recently, it could be that the bike is not suitable for you, and there are a few factors that would come into play that would make the bike feel uncomfortable. These include:
- Larger tires and broader tires are harder to pedal while gaining momentum.
- The bike frame could be too big or too small. This factor could make pedaling feel unnatural and, thus, harder.
- A used bike may have underlying problems that can be fixed by sending it in for a service.
If you think that this might be the case, the best thing to do is evaluate your options. Do you have a return policy, will getting a new bike to solve the problem, and is it worth the trouble? These are questions you should ask yourself.
Why Is My Bike So Hard To Pedal Conclusion
A bicycle that is hard to pedal is not a great experience and can turn a lot of new bike riders off. Hopefully, I have helped you identify a problem to find a solution, and with a little bit of patience, you should be up and running in no time.