How Long Do Cycling Shoes & Cleats Last? Here’s How You Make Them Last Longer!


Seeing when they need to be replaced is relatively straightforward when it comes to sneakers, football boots, and even running shoes. You can visibly see the wear and tear; the grip is completely gone, and there are holes in the uppers.

But cycling shoes are a whole different story, especially when it comes to knowing when they need replacing.

So, How long Do cycling Shoes Last? Bike Shoes could last from 6 to as long as 15 years, however, this depends on the choice of the bike shoes which is a trade-off between weight and durability as heavier shoes tend to last longer. Additionally, the riding technique plays a significant role. Shoes used by the rider with a smooth paddling technique will last longer than average. And finally how fast the bike shoe deteriorates depends on how often they are used.

In reality, however, a good pair of cycling shoes should last for several years if looked after correctly. The fact you can’t really walk on your cycling shoes also keeps them in good condition, meaning they can still be worn for years to come. 

Tasking care of the cleats on the sole of your shoes is the most crucial aspect and determining factor in how long your cycling shoes will last. The consistent action of clipping in and out can wear down the plastic and make it difficult and even dangerous when clipping in. If you’re an avid cyclist, then replacing your cleats a couple of times a year is probably wise.


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How Often do you need to Replace Cycling Shoes? 

When you see any part of your cycling shoes starting to fall apart, it’s probably time to pull the trigger and purchase a new pair. With the advent of modern technology and new materials, cycling shoes last much longer than they used. The two most significant determining factors as to how often you need to replace your cycling shoes will be the quality of the shoe and how regularly you ride. However, your cycling shoes will need replacing at some point, and the component most likely to fail first is the retention system.

Whether it’s velcro or systems like Boa, these components get the most use and, as such, are prone to breaking. 

You can buy spare parts for different retention systems, including Boa, but a word of caution, fitting and replacing these parts is very tricky and requires not only specific tools but a whole lot of patience.

Also, check out How Often to Clean Running and Cycling Shoes? How To Wash Them!


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Five Tips to Maintaining Your Cycling Shoes

The better condition you can keep your cycling shoes in means you won’t have to spend your hard-earned cash annually for a new pair. Below are five tips that will keep your cycling shoes in tip-top shape for years to come.

  1. Just as you would your bike, taking the time to give your cycling shoes a quick wipe-over, will pay big dividends in the long run. Making sure to clean out areas under the shoes like the cleats where dirt and grime can accumulate is essential. Wiping carefully around the Boa system is another good area to clean as dirt and dust can also pile up.
  1. When washing your shoes, use warm soapy water and resist the urge to use strong cleaners, which more than likely contain harmful chemicals that won’t do you or your shoes any favors.
  1. Try to avoid putting your shoes in the washing machine. Although this can be done, it’s not recommended, as the lacing system can become damaged, meaning you’ll need new shoes. If you do pop them in the washing machine, wrap them in towels or a specific washing bag to protect them as best as possible.
  1. Keep your cycling shoes dry. After each ride, especially if it’s been raining, dry your shoes with an old rag and try placing some newspaper or paper towel inside to help speed up the process. Never use a hairdryer or place them too close to the heater. The last thing you want is a pair of burnt cycling shoes.
  1. Cycling shoes are just that; they’re meant for cycling. Try your best to avoid walking in your cycling shoes. I’m not talking about stopping at a vending machine or going to the toilet; I’m referring to walking on pebbles or rocks as it can damage your cleats.

How Long do Clipless Pedals last? 

A good pair of Shimano or Look pedals can last for years and perhaps even a lifetime if taken care of. Your pedals can see a lot of wear and tear because they are one of the primary contact points between you and your bike. 

Heavy demands are placed on your pedals as you put all your effort and force through them, and as such, keeping them clean and well maintained is critical to their longevity.

Pedals need replacing because the bearings inside are tiny, and when you consider the amount of force placed on them, it’s only inevitable they’ll need replacing at some point.

Do SBD Cleats Wear Out?

Cleats are incredibly durable if looked after properly, with the average cleat needing replacement every 5,000 to 8,000 km. Cleats are undoubtedly the most critical part of the shoe-pedal puzzle, and cleats that are old or damaged will not only make clipping in and out tricky, but unsafe too.

It’s also very much a personal preference when it comes to deciding when they need changing. I love the feel and confidence new cleats provide, which is why I change my cleats at least twice a year to ensure safety and efficiency.

Are Cycling Shoes Essential for Competitive Cycling & Triathlon ?

While Cycling shoes are not essential for cyclists or triathletes to finish a race, yet, they do provide a significant advantage if used by getting the most out of the rider’s effort end enhancing the rider’s level of integration with the bike

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a crazed passionate cycling fan like me, everyone can benefit from wearing cycling shoes. As with running, tennis, and basketball, cycling shoes have been specifically designed with the biomechanical movements of cycling in mind.

Cycling has its own unique, demanding characteristics, and wearing cycling shoes can take your performance to the next level. (Source)

For more on this, check out our post: Clips Shoes and Transitions; What Are Your Options?

Power

The stiff, lightweight material of cycling shoes allows you to transfer maximum power to the pedals. Because you’re “clipped in,” you can engage muscles like the hamstring and glutes instead of using only your quads as you would if you rode with regular shoes. Another benefit is the loss of power, making your pedal stroke more efficient.

Breathe Breathe Breathe

Cycling shoes are manufactured and designed using lightweight breathable materials that keep your feet from overheating while out on long rides. You’re also much less likely to cramp due to the added support. When you’ve got relaxed and cool feet, you can smash out the power longer.

Take the Time to Learn

Using cycling shoes also means you’re going to be using clipless pedals. Taking the time to learn and practice the art of clipping and out is essential. If you’re a beginner to cycling, I highly recommend practicing clipping in and out on a soft surface like grass or even better while on a stationary trainer.

Brenton Barker

Brenton is an Australian with 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. These athletes have combined to win more than ten international events. He holds a Degree in Sports Coaching and was the former Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute. He was the former Manager & Head Coach to Tennis Australia and was a Dunlop International Advisory Board member for eight years. His expertise is in Goal Setting, Health & Nutrition, Internal and External Motivation, Technical Analysis, and Program Design and Delivery. Brenton currently consults with several professional athletes and clients from varying backgrounds and sports.

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