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Why Is It Hard to Pedal Your Bike? 7 Causes and Fixes

If you have been struggling with your bike lately, you must wonder why it is hard for me to pedal my bike. After all, a bike with smooth pedaling can make all the difference in the world, so it is worth it to try and understand what is causing the issue and how to fix it.

In most cases, having difficulty pedaling your bike can be traced to rusty chains, incorrectly aligned brakes, a broken cartridge, a small bike frame, tense components, the wrong gears, or an incorrect height for the bike saddle. Luckily, most of these issues can be fixed.

If you want to understand how to fix these problems, you are in the right place! Not only will we be looking at issues that can make most bikes hard to pedal, but we will also guide you about single speed and mountain bikes! Keep reading to learn more!

old rusty bike chain, pedal, and crank

Why Is It Hard For Me To Pedal My Bike?

Getting a new bike and finding out it is hard to pedal can be an incredibly frustrating. However, in most cases, you can easily resolve this problem! Here are the most common issues you can come across and what you can do to fix them!

Your Bike Chain Is Too Rusty

If you are using your bike while out and about, especially in areas where there is dew and mist, you can run into issues with your bike chain becoming rusty. This is especially the case when you do not appropriately lubricate and clean the chain after a bike ride.

The reason why it may be hard to pedal your bike is that the rust builds up and jams the chain, making it harder to move. However, that is not the extent of the issue. Rust on your chain can also travel to your bike’s drivetrain, cogs, and more. This will make it tenser.

As a result, you may find it even harder to pedal the bike. However, the best way to fix this issue is to make sure to routinely clean your bike chain. Additionally, always lubricate the chain before use so it can move smoothly and be protected from the buildup of rust.

Here are some tips you can use to get your bike chain clean every time:

The Brakes Are Incorrectly Aligned

In addition to the bike chain, your brakes may be another reason why it is hard for you to pedal your bike. When your brakes are incorrectly aligned, they can make it difficult for you to move and control your bike’s pedals.

You can take care of this by taking your bike to a local shop for professional adjustments. They will be able to realign your brakes and ensure that they are working properly, helping you pedal your bike easily. However, you can also take care of this problem with a few simple steps.

First of all, you need to inspect the bike. The biggest sign of misalignment is that the components, especially the brakes, will not be exactly parallel to each other. Adjust them to make sure this is the case, and then you can try spinning the wheel. If there is still any misalignment, it will become obvious in the form of a gap along the rim, or the brake pads.

The Cartridge System Is Broken

One of the biggest issues that can cause a bike to be hard to pedal is if there is an issue with the cartridge system. The cartridge system is responsible for the bearings on your bike, which are what allow the wheels to turn smoothly and make it easy for you to pedal your bike.

If there is an issue with your cartridge system, you may find it much harder to pedal your bike. This will likely cause a lot of resistance and may lead to discomfort and pain as you try your best to get down the road.

If you suspect that there is an issue with your cartridge system, it is important to take your bike to a bike shop right away. They will be able to inspect your bike and determine if there is a problem with the cartridge system. 

If this is the case, they can replace it so that your bike will be back in working order and easy to pedal. With regular maintenance and care, you can ensure that your bike pedals smoothly and easily.

pedal on Ebike

The Bike Frame Is Too Small

If your bike is hard to pedal, it may be because you are using a frame that is too small. Your bike frame needs to be the right size in order for you to have optimal performance while riding it. If it is too small or too large, this can cause issues with how well the bike pedals are and can make it much harder for you to get around.

To make sure that your bike frame is the right size, it is important to take the time to measure your body and find the right size for you. Most bike stores will have experts on hand who can help you determine what size bike frame would be best for you. 

Once you have found the right size frame, it is also important to make sure that you regularly check your bike for signs of wear and tear. This will help ensure that your bike frame stays in good shape and makes it easy for you to pedal your bike without any problems.

The Components Are Too Tense

What you may not have considered is that tension in the components can make a bike difficult to pedal. Often, when you first get a new bike, the parts will have to be tightened in order for them to function properly. 

However, if you are not careful about how much tension is put on your bike’s components, this can lead to issues and make it hard for you to pedal your bike.

To avoid this problem, it is important to make sure that you do not over-tighten the components on your bike. This can be done by regularly checking them and making any necessary adjustments as needed. 

You Are Using The Wrong Gears

Using the wrong gears can also make a bike hard to pedal. If you do not have the right gear selected, or if you are not changing them properly, this can cause a lot of drag and make it difficult for you to pedal.

To avoid this problem, it is important to take some time to learn how to properly use your bike’s gears. This can be done by reviewing the manual that came with your bike, or by working with a cycling expert who can help you learn the ins and outs of using the different gears on your bike.

The Bike Saddle Is At The Wrong Height

Finally, if your bike saddle is at the wrong height, this can make it difficult to pedal. To avoid this, it is important to make sure that your bike saddle is adjusted to the right height for you. This will help ensure that you are comfortable and have good posture while riding your bike, making it easier for you to pedal.

To adjust the saddle height on your bike, you may need to get the help of an expert. The people at bike shops and a mechanic can often help you achieve this. They will be able to help you figure out where the seat needs to be in order for you to have optimal comfort and performance while riding.

worn rusty pedal and bike chain

How To Make A Bike Easier To Pedal

Now that we have seen what common issues can make pedaling difficult, here are some tips on making pedaling a lot easier:

  1. Start by choosing a bike that is the right size for you. If your bike is too big or too small, it might be harder to pedal, as you won’t have the right amount of power and support from the pedals.
  2. Consider adjusting your seat height and position so that it’s set up comfortably for you. This will help you apply the right amount of pressure to the pedals and make pedaling easier.
  3. If possible, try switching out your bike’s tires for ones that have a slightly softer tread. This can also make it easier to pedal, as they will provide more traction while you’re cycling.
  4. Finally, consider investing in a bike trainer or exercise bike. These tools can help you keep your fitness level up and make pedaling easier, no matter what type of terrain you’re cycling on. With these tips, you should be able to make pedaling a lot more comfortable and enjoyable!

Single-Speed Bike Hard To Pedal Issues

You may be wondering why it is hard for me to pedal my bike if it is a single-speed bike. If that is the case, there are some common issues in these bikes that can make pedaling difficult or a less comfortable experience.

The first issue is that single-speed bikes tend to be more lightweight, which means they are typically less stable than other types of bikes. This can make it harder to pedal and maintain a consistent cadence when you’re on the road. 

Another common issue with single-speed bikes is their lack of gears. This means that you have fewer options for adjusting your pedaling speed, so you may have to pedal faster or slower than you’re used to in order to get up hills or accelerate quickly.

Overall, if you’re having issues with your single-speed bike and finding it hard to pedal, these are some of the most likely culprits. However, you can also do some things to improve your pedaling experience. 

For example, installing new pedals or adding a kickstand may help keep your bike more stable and make it easier to pedal. You can also invest in a performance-oriented bike with more gears for a more customizable riding experience.

So if you’re struggling with your single-speed bike and finding it hard to pedal, don’t worry – there are lots of things you can do to improve your experience and get the most out of your bike. Just be sure to do your research, ask for expert advice, and try out some different options until you find the perfect fit for you.

pedal on a bike

How To Fix Mountain Bike Too Hard To Pedal

When your mountain bike is feeling too hard to pedal, there could be a few different things causing the issue. Whether you are experiencing excessive resistance in your cranks, difficulty shifting gears, or another problem altogether, it’s important to troubleshoot the issue so that you can get back out on the trails as quickly as possible.

The first thing to check is the condition of your chain. If you notice that it’s dirty or worn out, you should give it a thorough cleaning and lubrication. This will help ensure that there is as little friction between your chain and the gears as possible, making it easier for you to pedal.

You may also want to consider adjusting your gears, especially if you are experiencing a lot of resistance in one particular gear. 

To adjust your front derailleur, simply loosen the cable pinch bolt with an Allen wrench and move the barrel adjuster on the shifter to improve shifting between gears. You can also make micro-adjustments with the barrel adjusters that are located at either end of the derailleur.

If none of these measures seem to help, you may need to take your bike to a local shop for further inspection and repairs. But with a little bit of troubleshooting, you should be able to get your mountain bike back up and running in no time!

Final Thoughts

When your bike feels too hard to pedal, there are a few key things to check and adjust in order to get it back up and running. Whether it’s a dirty or worn chain, improperly adjusted gears, or another issue altogether, these tips should help you get your bike road-ready once again.