When it comes to knowing when your sneakers need to be replaced, it's a pretty straightforward exercise, but what about your cycling shoes? Are there any visible signs to look out for that can give you a heads up? I mean, with your sneakers, the tread starts to wear thin, but with cycling shoes, the only real sign of wear and tears is on your cleats.
Cycling shoes are a completely different story, particularly when it comes to understanding if and when they need to be replaced. A good pair of cycling shoes, though, should last 2 to 3 years, if not more, if you look after them correctly. Keep in mind that high-quality cycling shoes can cost a pretty penny, with some pairs going for as much as $500.
Looking after your cleats is the most significant determining factor when it comes to deciding how long your cycling shoes will last. Consistently clipping in and out and walking on pavement all take a heavy toll on your cleats. I replace my cleats probably twice a year, and I recommend you do too.
Not changing your cleats can be quite dangerous, especially clipping and out if you ride on the road; the last thing you want to do is be unable to clip out when you stop at the traffic lights.
Do You Really Need Cycling Shoes?
Whether you're an avid cyclist like me or a weekend warrior, I genuinely believe every cyclist should be wearing some sort of specific cycling shoe. Why? Because, as with any specific sports shoe, they serve a purpose, and when it comes to cycling, that purpose is power, power, power.
Cycling has unique characteristics, so wearing a pair of cycling shoes with cleats will help you get the most out of your technique and help you create more power, and reduce the chance of injury.
Cycling shoes are made from a super rigid lightweight material, which helps you transform your full power to the pedals. The cleats are designed to help you pedal effectively and, more importantly, efficiently. Cycling shoes allow you to activate the bigger muscles needed for power, such as your quads and hamstrings. Whereas if you wore sneakers while riding, your legs would be forced to use many smaller muscles leading to "dead legs" or "bonking."
Power can also be tracked via various iPhone apps such as Wahoo and Strava, but as any cyclist will tell you, these apps drain your iPhone battery in a heartbeat. To counteract that, I highly recommend you purchase a compatible iPhone charging case that will keep your iPhone battery charged to its maximum capacity. Use a compatible iPhone charge case with a handlebar mount to mount your phone to your handlebars and charge it wirelessly.
Cycling shoes are also made of breathable materials that you guessed it; keep your feet nice and cool and stop them from overheating. These materials mitigate the chance of cramps and add a significant amount of support that helps to keep your knee, ankle, and hips aligned.
Think about it this way; when your feet are cool, calm, and relaxed, you are much better prepared to smash out the power and crush your personal best.
Take the time to practice
In short, when you use cycling shoes, we're really saying that you'll have to learn how to use clipless pedals. Taking the time to practice and ensure you're comfortable using clipless pedals is critical, especially if you don't want to scratch yourself and your bike.
If you've never used clipless pedals, I highly suggest you start practicing on a soft surface like your local park; just make sure no one is around because it is embarrassing to fall off your bike no matter what age.
How Often Should You Change Cycling Shoes?
As soon as you see any part of your shoes falling apart, you should probably look at getting a new pair. Unlike sneakers or casual shoes where you can get away with an old grip for a while, cycling shoes should be replaced immediately because they also keep you safe as well as produce power.
The two biggest factors to help you determine if you need to replace them are how often you ride and the quality of your cycling shoe. Cycling shoes will need to be replaced whether you like it or not, and one of the first things that need replacing is your cleats.
The BOA retentions systems for tightening your shoes are also prone to break, but this is because they are the most used component on your cycling shoe. You can get replacement parts for the BOA system, but in all honesty, they are very tricky to install and require a whole lot of patience.
How Long Do Clipless Pedals Last?
A high-quality pair of clipless pedals from a reputable brand like Shimano or Look should last for years, and if looked after correctly, they can even last a lifetime. Your pedals are in constant contact with you and your bike, which is why they see a lot of wear and tear.
Heavy demands are placed on your clipless pedals as you smash your power through them, not to mention the amount of dirt and grit they pick up while out riding. Keeping your pedals clean and properly maintained will help them last a lot longer, and they look better too.
Sometimes, pedals need replacing because the small bearings inside become "stuck" and can even rust.