Prolonging the Life of Your Cleats

It doesn’t take long to realize that cycling is super fun but it doesn’t come cheap.  The more carbon focused one gets, the more you better get your credit card ready, as the typical formula is that you will spend about $100 per ounce for those carbon accessories.

For this post, I wanted to share a little trick/secret regarding your cleats.   As you know, cleats wear down over time and they have to be replaced with new ones.  But, what if you can get a little more ‘life’ out of each pair?  I’d be OK with that; how about you?


Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 1.49.37 PMThe three most popular road pedals are Speedplay, Look Keos and Shimano SPD-SL’s.  For Speedplay, I do like the overall function of the pedal but I have serious reservations on the design.  If you are not VERY disciplined, then you may be riding one day and your cleat system could come apart.  That would be a direct result of not replacing the cleat screws that you literally walk on.  Most cyclists are not that disciplined and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this happen.  Never good results, either.  Bottom line for Speedplay, you better keep a very close eye on those precious screws.  The only way you can prolong the life of them is to wear cleat covers when you are walking around off the bike.

For the Shimano SPD-SL’s, they are one of the two most popular of the three I’ve mentioned.  However, make sure you are using this ‘road version’, as the SPD’s are mainly for mountain biking and are very popular on spin bikes.  Their design is not the best for road Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 1.47.45 PMcycling and the cleats are too small, which can cause numbness in your feet.  On this pedal, there is a tension adjustment that allows you to dial in how much tension you want when clipping in and out.  This is your friend and my tip.  When you have a new cleat, you will probably have to lighten the tension, otherwise it may be a bit difficult clipping in/out.  But, as your cleat begins to wear down, you go back and adjust the tension a bit higher.  This way, you will have a consistent ‘feeling’ of the tension even as your cleat wears.

For the Look Keo’s, it pretty much the same scenario as the Shimano’s above.  Same tension adjustment Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 1.48.45 PMand therefore the same ability to adjust the tension as your cleat wears.  Keo’s are my preference of the three, as they have a low profile and I’ve found they seem to be a bit more durable than Shimano’s.  Some would say they prefer the Shimano’s because the cleat has two little nipples what you walk on and not so much the actual surface of the cleat.  I totally agree with this but I’ve landed on the Keo’s for the durability.  I have two sets; one has over 50,000 miles and the other has over 75,000 miles.  They are still going strong!!!

Bottom line, learn to adjust the tension as your cleat wears down and you will get a bit more life out of them.  And, that saves you a little money…

If you have a cycling question or topic you would like covered, send your request to…and then watch my Blog.

Coach Robert…

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