Do cycling shoes wear out? How long do cycling shoes and cleats last? We’ll answer questions regarding biking shoes, so you’ll know it’s time for a change!
Do cycling shoes wear out? Yes, of course, they do. However, they do not wear out as quickly as running shoes. A good pair of cycling shoes can last as long as 20 years.
The longevity of your shoes depends on various factors, such as the miles that you have put in, whether you often use them for walking on rough surfaces, how well you maintain them, etc.
Cleats are another story since they wear out more quickly. Thus, you might want to replace them more often, especially when walking in them.
How Long Do Road Cycling Shoes Last?
Do cycling shoes wear out? Like most things, they do. However, if properly maintained, a pair of dedicated cycling shoes can serve you for many years.
Cycling shoes are created for a very specific purpose. They are meant for clipping onto the pedals, not pounding on the pavement.
The materials used are usually synthetic. They are highly durable and retain the shoe form very well.
Road cycling shoes are often the most long-lasting footwear you ever have.
But, how many miles do cycling shoes last? While there is no specific answer to this question, we know many cyclists who kept pedaling with their road shoes for up to 20 years and encountered no troubles.
Mountain bike shoes are more prone to wear and tear for many reasons. With recessed cleats, they are more comfortable walking in.
Riders are more likely to use them for walking and wear them out with their weight.
In addition, there are several environmental factors in play here. Dirt, grime, rock strikes can damage the stiff soles while hiking, thus reducing the lifespan of MB shoes.
Factors That Affect Cycling Shoe Longevity
There is no exact timeframe for cycling shoes to be replaced. Factors like your riding style, the mileage you have ridden, how well you maintain your shoes all play a role in the shoes' lifespan.
It’s worth mentioning that cycling shoes are not suitable for walking, whether your shoes are made from nylon or carbon. So if you want them to last longer, do not try to walk in them very often.
The Closure System
The weakest part of cycling shoes, and thus the most likely to wear, is the closure system.
This part can snap or break more quickly than others, but fortunately, you can replace them easily instead of getting a new pair.
There are three main types of closure systems of biking shoes:
- Traditional laces are the easiest to replace. You can buy them virtually from any store and thread them yourself without any issue.
- BOA dials and straps are more challenging to replace as they ask for basic skills.
However, spare parts are widely available, so a little effort from your part can get you a new closure system instead of replacing the whole pair of shoes.
- Velcro is the toughest to replace yet lasts the longest. The thread along the seam should be correctly cut before you can sew on a new piece. If you don’t want the hassle, a local cobbler might help you out.
Glass-fiber-reinforced nylon or carbon fiber are two popular materials for the sole. They are susceptible to wear and tear.
Soles of road shoes also don’t often come with a protective layer, so you would wear them out more rapidly by walking in them.
For this very reason, it is advised to keep walking to a minimum and avoid going over rugged surfaces.
Some mountain and touring shoe models offer retractable bolt cleats. They will move up into the sole while you are walking.
The Uppers & Heel Counter
The uppers are the least likely to wear out. They can stretch a little, usually due to the tightening of the shoes.
The heel counter also lasts for a very long time. However, to keep it in top condition, remember to always loosen the retention system fully when you put it on and avoid wiggling your foot once the shoes are laced up.
When Should You Replace Cycling Cleats?
The big triangle cleats wear out more often than your cycling shoes. These plastic pieces are always clipped on and off the pedals, which constantly creates physical frictions and wears them out.
The result is they will easily detach when you don’t want them to. It is advisable to replace the cycling cleats every year or 7000 miles, whichever comes first.
Often, many riders get new cleats ten times before cycling shoes are completely unserviceable.
Speedplay recommends replacing the cleats every 3000-5000 miles (5000 – 8000 km), while other manufacturers don’t specify the mileage but instead leave it up to the cyclist to decide when to replace them.
Some cleats include “wear” marks to indicate when it’s time to get a new pair.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Indoor Cycling Shoes Last?
A good pair of indoor spinning shoes can last between 5 and 10 years with proper care and maintenance.
Usually, the clips and soles of your indoor cycling shoes wear out before other parts of the shoe. It is recommended to replace them instead of getting a brand new pair.
How Long Do Shimano Cleats Last?
Shimano cleats can be good between 15 months to 24 months, depending on how intensely you use them.
It’s best to avoid long walks and replace your cleats after the wear indicators tell you. Using cleat covers might improve their lifespan.
How Do I Know If My SPD Cleats Are Worn?
The SPD cleats have a triangle shape with a rubber pad on each corner. If you notice any of these rubber pads are worn out to reveal the color of the plastic cleat body, it is advised to get a replacement.
In addition, Shimano also attached a wear indicator marker at the back of the pads, so you can always know when it’s time for a change.
Another telltale sign is how easily you can clip the cycling cleat out. The plastic base of the cleats will eventually wear due to the friction against the pedal.
Therefore, if it’s too challenging for you to clip out or you clip out effortlessly, you know you need new cleats.
How To Maintain Cycling Shoes?
Clean Your Shoes Properly
Clean your shoes periodically, especially when you usually ride in extreme weather conditions, to keep them free of grime, mud, and oil. Keeping your shoes clean is the easiest way to extend their longevity.
It’s best to wipe your cycling shoes with a damp cloth if they appear dirty after a ride.
Avoid Using Washing Machine
We don’t recommend tossing your shoes in a washing machine, especially when they come with a lacing closure system.
If you insist on using the washing machine, wrap your shoes up with a towel and choose the cold water and gentle or slow setting.
Dry Your Shoes Properly
Never ignore your shoes after a wet ride, or you’ll risk reducing their longevity. Dry them properly before storing them.
Using heat sources such as a hairdryer, radiator, or direct sunlight might take a toll on your shoes. Instead, you should dry them with a cloth and add newspaper inside to soak the moisture.
Avoid Walking In Them
Road biking shoes are not meant for walking. Friction against scuffs and rough surfaces can cause great damage to the sole, cleats, and the entire shoe.
While mountain cycling shoes feature a walkable sole, you should not walk in them often, especially on tough terrains, to protect their lifespan.
Do cycling shoes wear out? Yes, they do wear out, but you’re sure to get years of good service before having to retire them.
Not only do cycling shoes need to be replaced when it’s time, but other parts like the closure system, sole, cleat attachment, etc., also need special attention.
If you’re serious about cycling, spending a bit more on quality, dedicated shoes will pay off in the long run.