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CO Tour Rest Day: Backwards Pedal and Crankarm Day


When we last saw our two intrepid bike tourists, they were stranded in Leadville with a broken crankarm…

It was Leadville layover day and bike shop stop on our Colorado odyssey. Nervously we awaited the 10 a.m. opening of Cycles of Life to see if Brian could repair our broken crankarm.


We watched him dig through all of his spare parts boxes, in search of a crankarm that might work on the captain’s non-drive side. No luck.

Brian sent us to Community Threads, where Smokey went back into a closet that contained “random bike s#@$.” In it, we found a Shimano 175 mm XT arm from the 1990s. Success!

We walked back to Cycles of Life with crankarm in hand and Brian quickly repurposed the left arm to the right side, and installed it with a new Shimano pedal.


Felkerino clipped in to give the new setup a test ride around the parking lot and his shoe lodged into the pedal. Because we had to use a left crankarm on the right side, the pedal is backwards. Darn freak bikes.


Back into the bike shop we went, with the shoe still stuck on the bike. Brian helpfully dislodged it and Felkerino turned his SPD cleat around so that he could clip in and out. It’s not totally smooth, but it effectively does the job.


I wasn’t sure how this day would work out, but we now have four functioning crankarms.


Isn’t that beautiful?

Many thanks to Cycles of Life and Community Threads for fixing us up. Phew! On we ride, backwards crankarm and all.


  1. It’s beautiful that it’s fixed and you can continue on your way tomorrow. It’s pretty amazing that this happened close to a town where you could get it fixed, rather on a gravel road far from anywhere. The stars are aligned for you!


  2. Yes, had to mentally munge that. SPD works because it is multi-sided – so backwards is OK once it is locked in. I knew finding a crank arm was going to be a challenge. Anyway fingers crossed its enough now to work as far as you need it.


    • We don’t expect that to happen. Our man at the shop torqued it down hard. As long as the bearings spin smoothly (it’s a brand new pedal) there should be no movement of the threads in the arm. We have just two more days riding so it’s OK, but I’ll definitely put on a proper captain’s right arm at home because this is not exactly proper.


    • no no. pedals loosen when you pedal not tighten, its a safety feature so if the bearing were to lock up it wouldn’t break your ankle. this was from a time when all bikes were fixed gears,


  3. Is it usual to have the drivechain on the left? I’ve never heard of that before. Glad you found a solution and can finish the tour!


  4. Excellent fix! And proof (as if it were needed) that keeping a random single crank arm in the parts box for 20+ years was exactly the right thing to do.

    The cycling gods are smiling down on you.


  5. That’s my only worry with tandem touring, something on the drive train breaking. We stripped the pedal threads on the Captains left side this spring but only 2 miles from the house, full stoker power to get us home. Novel fix that I will file in the memory bank and hopefully never need. Love your touring posts from my home state. Lots of memories there!


  6. I am trying to picture how this works. Does Felkerino have clip out by moving his heel IN instead of OUT? If so, that would be awkward.


    • Clipping out is still pretty natural, with the cleat retention set on the low end. I turn my heel enough and it releases. The bigger difference is clipping in, I have to exert more forefoot pressure vs. heel. Helps that the backwards pedal is on the side I don’t use as much.


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