This article covers the methods to check for cleats wear for major brands such as Shimano, Look, Speedplay and Time.
When to replace your cleats
Here are four common signs indicating it’s about time to replace the cleats with a new one.
- Signs of wear. The cleats looked in a bad shape (or cracks) with signs of wear on the rubber grips.
- Wear indicator. Shimano and Look cleats have wear indicators. Replace the cleats once the wear indicators are visible.
- Fore-aft movements when pedaling mean that the cleat-pedal contact surface is loose or has tiny gaps. This is usually due to unexpected wear on the cleat surface. Fore-aft movement is different from lateral movement, which is the float angle.
- Shoe unclips unexpectedly. A worn-out cleat doesn’t lock onto the pedals as expected and this usually happens when you’re riding off the saddle.
Why replace cleats
- Safety. A worn-out cleat poses a risk to yourself and the group you’re riding with. Worn-out cleats can cause you to unclip unexpectedly, especially when riding off the saddle.
- Grip. The small rubber pieces beneath the cleat provide grip when we’re walking. Walking around with worn-out cleats can be slippery and causes you to slip and fall.
- Efficient power transfer. Worn-out cleats can be a frustrating experience when you’re putting the power down as the pedal-cleat interface is loose. A 1mm gap will feel like the entire pedal is coming loose.
How to check cycling cleats for wear
Each of the leading pedal brands has slightly different methods to determine the time to replace the cleats. Here are the specific manufacturers’ recommendations.
Replace Shimano cleats when the black plastic layer underneath the colored (yellow, blue, or red) plastic becomes visible on the front.
For the rear, replace the cleats when the colored layer has worn beyond the replacement line.
LOOK KEO cleats have four wear indicators; two at the front and two at the rear underneath the elastomer pads. Replace the cleats as soon as one of the four wear indicators appears.
Speedplay (now owned by Wahoo Fitness) recommends that ‘Cleats be replaced at least every 3,000 to5,000 miles of use or whenever the parts show visible wear.’
Because the Speedplay system is more complicated and has more parts than Shimano and Look, replace all the used parts. Do not use a combination of old and new cleat parts.
TIME (now owned by SRAM) pedals are somewhat vague in their recommendations to replace cheats. According to TIME, ‘we recommend replacing cleats if release from the pedal becomes more difficult or if the walking tabs on ICLIC cleats become worn.’