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How To Remove Rounded & Seized Bolts On A Bike | Maintenance Monday

How To Remove Rounded & Seized Bolts On A Bike | Maintenance Monday

– In an ideal world bolts
would turn almost effortlessly. In and out, in and out. Until we torque them up to
just the required amount, with a torque wrench. Unfortunately though, this
is not an ideal world, and bolts will quite often
end up looking like that. And when you come to undo them,
you stick your Allen key in, and the bolthead just rounds straight out. In this case, we actually have a plan B, ’cause there’s a flat
headed screwdriver fitting. But unfortunately the
bolts are in too tight, and that just rounds out as well. So, how are we gonna remove
our stuck and rounded bolts? (light funky music) We need a two-pronged attack. Firstly, we need to come
up with some kind of hack to deal with the fact that
our tool no longer fits in the head of our bolt. And then, then we also
need some way of loosening the threads of the bolt. Because more often than not
the reason you’ll have stripped it in the first place was
actually ’cause it’s too stiff, or too seized just to undo. (light funky music) Let’s deal with the tool
side of things, shall we? We gotta try this hack first,
from GCN viewer Rueben Tiow, who suggested that you
can put a rubber band, over the head of the bolt,
and then you put the tool through the rubber band, and the rubber increases
the friction on the tool, and hopefully fills in the gaps, and therefore you can undo your bolt. Unfortunately in this instance,
with my super seized up cleat bolts and incredibly
rounded bolt heads, it’s not actually working. But, I would definitely suggest
that you give this one a try because I heard from
other sources as well, that it does work. (light funky music) Next up, we’re gonna try a Torx key. Now this is a little bit random, I know, but we’ve had loads of you suggesting it. And I’ve also heard really
good things about it. Basically a Torx key
is a six-pointed star, as opposed to a hexagon. So the slightly different
shape can mean that you get a little bit more purchase with the bolt. However, you are gonna
need to increase the size of the Torx key, relative
to the Allen key. So in this case, we’ve
got three mil Allen bolt, a T-15 that would
correspond to it size-wise. So you have to use a slightly
bigger size, the T-20. And then obviously it doesn’t fit, so you will need to whack
it in there with a hammer. Then, it should grip the bolt, and you’ll hopefully be able to turn it. Clearly, there is quite a big risk here. Particularly damaging your Torx key. Although, I’ve never actually
done it in the couple of times that I’ve tried this hack before, and all the people I’ve spoken to. But, the risk is there. So you need to weigh up the
cost of potentially trashing your Torx key, with the
benefit of removing said bolt. (light funky music) Now before we take things up a
notch and involve power tools we need to get back to
actually trying to loosen the threads of the bolt. If you take a trip to
your local tool store, you will see that seized
bolts are a universal problem. And therefore, there are a whole raft of potential solutions out there. What we wanna look for
to begin with though, is penetrating oil. Now that takes many different forms, and I have no idea honestly
which works the best. But, the principle tends to be the same. You spray it on and then you leave it. And then you spray some
more on, and you leave it. Potentially overnight. Hopefully over time the
penetrating oil will seep into the threads of the
bolt and free things up. You can also get products
that promise even more, like Shock & Unlock spray,
whereby you actually have a freezing agent added
to the penetrating oil, and that then hopefully
contracts the metal, and then loosens it up. Now hopefully that combination
of penetrating oil, and then hack forward
slash barging with a tool will get your seized
and stripped bolt out. However, if it doesn’t we’re
still not out of options. We need to involve a drill. (drill whirring) Although this is the point
at which I then take my bike, or shoe, down to my local bike shop, although I can admittedly
now see their hearts visibly sinking when I
walk through the door. But then, if you want to do it yourself, what you’re gonna need to do
is secure the part very tightly in a vise and then drill very carefully, with a drill bit that’s
the same size as the shaft of the bolt, down through
the head of the bolt, at which point whatever the part it’s securing will come loose. But then if you wanna reuse the part, you’re gonna need to keep
drilling down through the threads until the bolt is clean gone
and then re-tap the threads. It’s not an impossible task, not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a little bit tricky, and it is quite time consuming. You will notice that I still have a cleat, firmly, unfortunately, attached
to the bottom of my shoe, that I’m desperate to reuse. So there is one last option
available in this specific instance that I have
resorted to in the past. Because a cleat is plastic,
you can take a hacksaw, cut through it, and actually
pull the cleat apart. And that leaves little
bolts dangling around, underneath your carbon sole. I then took a file and filed
flat edges onto my bolt head so I could get extra purchase
with a set of mole grips, and then got ’em right off. That too, was a time consuming job. But, there we go, that’s the price you pay for not adequately preparing
the threads of your bolt, before putting them in in the first place. (light funky music) You got three options at your disposal. Grease, thread lock and anti-seize. Now of the three, grease
is probably the one you’re most likely to have at home. And it is perfectly adequate
for most situations. If you want a bit more
information on these three, and indeed how to use them though, we’ve got a full video on that subject. It’s pretty useful, click just
down there to watch that one. Do also make sure that
you subscribe to GCN. It’s very simple and it’s free,
you just click on the globe. And then one last video
to suggest for you. Seeing as you’ve spent the
morning unsuccessfully trying to remove a cleat make sure you
get it right in the first place that is how you fit cleats to your shoes.

100 comments on “How To Remove Rounded & Seized Bolts On A Bike | Maintenance Monday

  1. Let us know your tips and bits of advice for removing rounded bolts in the comments below 👇

  2. Go to the hardware store and purchase a double headed bit that fits in your drill. Both ends are used with the drill in Reverse. The one side routes out the screw to make it completely round . The other side is threaded and is wider as it goes away from the screw hole. Keep the drill in Reverse and drill the threaded bit into the newly drilled round hole. As it bites into the screw it gets tighter and tighter. It will become one with the screw and take the screw out easily. After it's out, take a pair of vise grips and lock them onto the threaded end of the screw. With the bit still in the drill turn the grips as if you want to tighten the screw and it will un-screw from the bit.

  3. I had a bottom bracket that was rusted. I took it down to the bike shop because I figured I'd rather pay someone to remove it than to do it myself. They gave up on it and told me I should just buy a new bike. I took the bike home and removed it myself. Vise-Grips can do some amazing things.

  4. from someone who works in the marine industry where corroded bolts are the norm – I use the Wurth product ' Rost off : works extremely well for dissimilar metal corrosion

  5. Drill the shaft through the head, but use a smaller size so the shaft is still there. After that, using a oversized left-hander bolt(sorry I can't describe better than that…) to remove the bolt, tightening the left-hander will removed the seized right-hander. If a left-hander is seized, use a right-hander bolt instead.

  6. Other methods such as a screw extractor should work. Not all screws have a cleat to break to make room for pliers. For screws I also have an inexpensive manual impact driver (harbor freight), it rotates slightly left as you hit it with a hammer. Never had a screw that I couldn't un-seize with it, plus it won't damage your threads. Use penetrating oil first.

  7. left handed bit on a drill with a rotary hammer function. the drill bit is turning the same way as the bolt wants to loosen, so when the mechanical shock from the hammer impact loosens the threads, the drill will bite in and spin out the bolt.

  8. Do you guys have evidence that saying "subscribing is free" helps you get more subscribers? Because I think that practically everyone who uses YouTube knows that subscribing is free

  9. There is an alternate way to drill out the bolt. After you have removed the head and freed loose whatever was bolted down, use a pair of vise grips on the bolt to unscrew it. This only works if there is enough bolt showing of course, such as on a headset top cap, or Simon's shoes there. It certainly can't be said enough don't try to drill out a bolt unless you know what you are doing.

  10. Sometimes an impact driver(those loud cordless tools that resemble a drill) with a torx or allen key bit will do the trick. This requires you really lean into the driver as you try to reverse the bolt so you have to firmly hold the shoe, perhaps in a vice.
    I would increase my odds of success by doing the penetrating oil thing a day or so beforehand. If this doesn't work, invoke plan B…. whatever that might be.

  11. DO NOT use that drilling technique. Get a set of drill bits made to remove stripped bolts. These are conical, reverse threaded bits and they come in different sizes. Set your drill to turn counter clockwise. The drill bit will eventually grab enough of the bolt material to start turning the bolt. I've never had this technique fail. Drilling out the bolt shaft completely should be an absolute last resort with very, very high chances of doing extreme (likely fatal) damage to the component (which could include your frame). If you are off center by even the smallest amount, you will drill out the threading on one side of the bolt hole.

  12. For preparing the bolts before mounting them I suggest parraffine wax instead of grease because it remain clean, it does not crek over time, and is more water/dirt resistant. As a plus you get clean bolts forever that they will not mess your hand when you take them out!

  13. Si, why are you trying to titen the bolt in the first 1:50?x) Opening against clock direction, closing withr clock direction. :-p

  14. I use a Dremel tool to cut a channel into the head of the bolt, then use a very large flat head screwdriver to remove the bolt. It's worked numerous times, especially on the heel pad for Sidi shoes.

  15. Or, you can use a special seized bolt removal drill. Basically you drill a small hole in a bolt cap with an ordinary drill and then you have a pointy drill with a cutting reverse thread that bites into the bolt and you can unscrew the bolt by using that. 😉

  16. I have a feeling 'Park Tools' may sponsor GCN in some way, I can't quite put my finger on exactly how I know this, but the subtle hints are there…….

  17. R/C car racing trick – use a Dremel with a cutting wheel to cut a groove in the bolt head, then use a flat blade screwdriver to remove the bolt / screw. Fine for old cleats that you are going to throw out, maybe not so good against a seat post / stem / shifters

  18. Simon is trying hard to hide his smugness when explaining how he finally got the bolt out……or do I mean hardly trying!?

  19. Hi guys, i've seen u talk about taking nutirition and drinking electolytes for long bike rides… what about Red Bull (the drink)? Would it be ok to drink a couple of cans/bottles of it as a pick-me-upper when feeling low on energy? #torqueback

  20. usually i find that its dirt that get into the bolts on my cleats that results in the rounding of bolts. So some WD40 and a knife gets rid of the dirt and a bit of pressure with the multi tool get it all to come out. but thats just me

  21. I always loosen my cleat bolts after every ride. Only takes a few seconds and avoids them becoming 'welded' to the shoe.

  22. One of my my old speedplay cleat bolts (cross pattern) got stripped when I install it. Can not turn when I eventually need to remove the cleats. I pried and cut the plastic baseplate open leaving the bolt head sticking out of the sole, then I was able to grip the head with a pair of pliers and turn it. Very sweaty situation and never again!

  23. I see others have said the same, but use a screw extractor rather than drilling it out. Took my over-tightened top cap bolt off a treat.

  24. When using a Torx wrench on a rounded Allen bolt, I would suggest dipping the Torx key head on some carbon grip paste before whack it in with a hammer.

  25. I would ad that if your cleat bolts are not already slotted for a flathead scredriver then you can slot them yourself using a dremel and cutting wheel or a hack saw. Aditionally, you can grind down the ends of old hex keys to keep them in working condition, other than that bang up job Si.

  26. if you have to drill out your cleats, make sure you take your foot out of your shoe.

  27. I wouldn't ever re-tap into the same hole. The point of a thread is that it has a position and a pitch. Unless the bolt is significantly softer material than the thread its almost impossible to get the position right, so you will be drilling half in the bolt ,and half in the frame or shoe. When the rest of the bolt breaks up you have an oval hole. Even if you got the position spot on (into your roughened bolt with your hand drill), you wouldn't be able to pick up the original thread, so you would carving out a new thread into the hard material leaving the the corroded material to break out later.
    Definitely use a tap extractor *BY HAND*, but only after a good amount of time for the penetrating fluid to work. Vinegar works by eating the corroded material as does Cola. You might be able to use heat but not on carbon, plastic or paint and even on metal you could easily anneal it (bad). Time/patience is the key to extraction.

    Don't use worn or budget tool tools,
    Never use adjustable wrenches.
    Use ring spanners in preference to open end. Flat Allen keys in preference to ball end. Its all about contact area.
    Clean part before assembly to eliminate dirt. Grease bolt on assembly. Use washer wherever possible it also helps bolts STAY fixed.
    Don't over torque.
    Don't reuse old bolts.
    Wash you bike. DRY your bike. Don't leave your bike outside, chained to a railing.

    Really good tip for not cross threading bolts especially wide threads like BBs:- to locate the start of the thread, turn the bolt backwards until it clicks into the start of the thread.

    2 years cycling, 35 years toolmaker/Manufacturing Engineer.

  28. For a headset or where the bolts are exposed or easy to access grind a thin channel down the centre of the bolt head then take a flat head screwdriver. A small dremel blade or a bit of s hacksaw blade will do the job

  29. For non-recessed hex bolts, cut a slot across face of the bolt with a cutting wheel on a Dremel tool. Then use a flat screwdriver. Worked for me to remove a stem after a the key fractured inside the bolt head.

  30. use a dremel hand tool with a cutting disc on the end to either cut the head of the bolt off or  use it to enlarge the groove so a larger screwdriver can be used.

  31. you could also weld on a blob of metal onto the head of the bolt so that there is something to get a purchase on.  while it is still hot, clamp on a locking pliers. wait until it has cooled and then twist off (hopefully).  the heat from the weld may also help separate the fused screw from the shoe.

  32. Best penetrating oil, I've come across is PlusGas. Well worth searching some out at the local motor factors or garage. I know several car restorers / mechanics who swear by the stuff. Certainly got me out of a few tricky situations as well.

  33. Try using imperial allen keys instead of TX, don't ask me which sizes suit which metric cap heads but it has got me out of trouble before, you might need to just tap it in with a mallet like you seen Simon do here with the TX bit. In fact off the top of my head, a 1/4" allen key will have a 6.35 AF (across flats) so that should be good for a 6mm hex that has been rounded out.

  34. If only one bolt in a cleat is seized take the two ok bolts out and cplamy the cleat in a vice and simply turn the shoe to undo it. No drills, hacksaws, or even much effort

  35. When bolts get rounded I pull out my good tools…  Hammers, cut-off wheels, torches… and if those don't work, kicking the bike almost never frees the bolt, but it sure makes you feel better about it being rounded off to begin with!

  36. Thanks for the video, some great advice as always there. Drilling the head of seized vintage handle bar stem works well if all else fails. Thanks again Andy

  37. Drill a hole in the bolt that is smaller than the size of the bolt i.e. a 3 mill drill. Then use a left threaded bolt remover, this always works. the cone shape of the remover bytes itself in the bolt material.(sorry for my van Gaal english, i'm dutch ;-).
    Or use a centre punch to punch a hole in the rim of the bolt, then hold your punch at an angle of 45 degrees and jam it in the hole counterclockwise, works all the time

  38. I rounded my top cap bolt on my MTB and my mate tried a imperial size Allen key that looked like it fitted and it came out

  39. In the Past in my younger years of riding I have used a Vice grip tool or a locking pliers.  With a bit of testing you need to get the correct pressure on the head of the bolts and put your shoe or what ever  in a vice and extract the bolt..

  40. why do yall keep flipping the videos horizontally? he was tightening the bolt on the shoes at @1:36 , or atleast it looked that way to us.

  41. Before trying to undo it, take a little scrubbing powder like comet, get the tool tip wet, and dip it in the powder. The granules stick to the tool and give you more bite. Works well on screws in helicopters, so a bike bolt should be a cinch.

  42. Get a torx bit that's 1 size more than the equivalent of the hex bolt. Let's say it's a 6 mm. Get a T41 and an impact gun( more torque= better) and you see where I'm going with this. Hammer in the torx bit and boom, kischn gadjick

  43. If you get down to drilling, try a left handed drill bit. Hopefully, having used penetrate before hand, when it bites into the metal it will back the screw out.

  44. Use an extractor tool

  45. I sailed as a merchant marine engineer for nearly 3 decades, and every ship I was ever on used PB Blaster as a penetrant oil. Soak the seized thread/part, give it a few good hard taps to break loose the corrosion, and there's a good chance you can work that part free if you can get a purchase on it. A best last resort to drilling

  46. Try this on stuck bolts: Take a socket that barely doesn't fit and lightly hammer it onto the bolt. Ratchet it off and use a screwdriver at the end to get the tapped bolt out of your socket. Presto.

  47. The risk they talk about in the torx is bending it after you taken the bolt out it's hard to remove from the tool a couple waks with a rubber hammer does the trick for me

  48. I bought Shimano saint pedal but my bottom bracket was creaking so I took it to my bikes shop paid too much and as much as I told him it's the bottom bracket he says it's the new pedals I bought. So he opened it with the wrong sized tools and used whatever he can to open the pedal because he doesn't have tools then the other day he suddenly have tools and so he rounded my bolt and broke my pedals.

  49. How would you fix a rounded thread inside forks hold for brake caliper? I tried my luck with repair kit which is two component plasticine like mass that hardens after 5 minutes. If that fails I'll try with M7 thread cutter but I'm affraid it might take off too much material.

  50. So, you didn't show us how you actually remove the rounded off bolts……… just talk about it for 6 minutes. Really helpful.

  51. RE spd cleats You could cut away the cleat with some wire snips and remove the bolts with a mole wrench and even file the bolt and make to flat side on the head to give better grip.

  52. On the handlebar of my bicycle in the middle there is a bolt to remove the fork and the coach, I tried but I rounded it and now I do not know how to pull it out please help !!!

  53. On my bmx I was trying to tighten my handle bars but I had stripped the head of the bolt I tried the rubber band did t work so I'm probably going to try and drill through it and use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the left over thread would that work?

  54. When using penetrating oil, occasional taps with a hammer will assist the oil migrating into the joint.

    As for tapping, one thing you can try is drilling a blind hole (i.e., not all the way through) then inserting a left handed tap. You then turn the tap as if you are cutting left handed threads, and when the tap hits the end of the blind hole it will stop cutting and start turning the whole bolt. This is a less drastic option than actually destroying the existing threads and re-tapping.

    Sometimes if the problem is rust, drilling out the bolt will cause it to crumble.

  55. Lol i got a srill for an allen key 4 mm and drilled like half a cm and then tried with the allen key and it worled thanks

  56. What about a bolt requiring a wrench? Trying to remove a 3-gear conversion, which has a pissy little half-thickness bolt that I can't get a grip on

  57. What you could do alternatively, is get a angle grinder and grind a small slot in the rounded head of the bolt – then remove with a flat head screwdriver!

  58. Can you guys help me out? I've got a really rounded screw on my shimano tourney. I've tried to use rubber bands on it but it won't work.

  59. I had a rounded crank arm cap but came up with the idea of drilling 2 holes either side and using a pin spanner. It worked really well and was so easy I’m surprised I haven’t seen it been done anywhere while I was searching for solutions. I hope this helps anyone with the same problem.

  60. well i have a rounded allen screw next to my gear changer (ik thats the wrong name) and i want to change my handlebars, but i cant, how can i unscrew my rounded allen screw?

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