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I find my right cleat is wearing a lot quicker than my left one.

Usually I start with the left cleat in the pedal and then click the right one in while pushing off. Is the action of inserting the cleat that damaging? or is it the standing on the right foot while waiting?

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I'm not sure this is an answerable question as it would be impossible to know all of the variables that go into wearing your right cleat versus your left cleat. I think your guess is as good as any. Maybe reword to ask about cleat wear in general? How to prevent wear? –  WTHarper Jun 14 '13 at 1:09
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Of course the more the cleat interacts with other surfaces, the more it wears.

My experience with SPD-SL cleats is the "primary unclipping foot" wears down a bit quicker, although I usually replace both at the same time (partly for convenience, plus I find the yellow "walking grips" wearing out more evenly, so are worth replacing as a pair)

Similarly, the pedal on the primary-unclipping side will likely wear quicker - for example, after around 15,000km:

Worn pair of SPD-SL pedals

The SPD-SL pedals show wear nice and clearly; you can see I primarily unclip my left foot. The left pedal had significant vertical movement, and was overdue for replacement.

Is the action of inserting the cleat that damaging? or is it the standing on the right foot while waiting?

These will cause different kinds of wear, typically.. What is causing the wear should be pretty obviously if you look closely at how the cleat attaches to the pedal, or what contacts the ground when you stand (easily done if you take of the shoe, and clip in with your hands!)

For example, with the SPD-SL cleat:

SPD-SL

The yellow bits (1.) will wear from standing, whereas the area that rubs (2.) will wear from unclipping.

Different types of cleats will be different, e.g the SPD "mountain biking" shoes have a recessed cleat, so standing will not wear the cleat.

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+1 because this is my experience too. I find it strange that cleats would wear unevenly, never even considered it until Op asked question –  PeteH Jun 15 '13 at 8:11
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Maybe it is neither!

Could it not be the moment you hit the ground with your foot which, even when doing it gently, is more of an actual hit than just standing peacefully.

I would think that clipping in does some wear and it also removes the micro-bits of cleat the standing and hitting has filed down.

What kind of cleats do you use? and more important, what kind of shoes? MTB, SPD shoes have the sole surround the cleat it is quite protected when walking and standing (it does hit the ground, but evenly so with the rest of the sole)? or more road shoes with the cleat protruding so that when you stand/walk, the cleat takes 100% of the hit at every step?

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It's going to be highly variable. If it is always the same foot that you use to unclip, then it may be as simple as being dragged/scraped on the ground at stops. Also, as has been pointed out, the more you use a specific cleat the more that it will wear.

Another thing that could be contributing is leg length and improper fit. If your leg does not track straight up and down, or if you have a large amount of float in your cleat, the motion/rubbing could be causing premature cleat wear. This might be able to be corrected with shims under one or other of your cleats.

Also, it could be that there is something wrong/worn in the pedal itself on that side, causing excessive wear to the cleats.

Lots of variables, probably not a real definitive answer unless there is something glaringly wrong with one of the above.

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