I recently got clipless pedals and the LBS i bought the shoes at set up the cleats for me. After practicing to make sure i felt good about unclipping, today i did my first ride with the system 25-30 miles and about 2/3rds of the way through i found i couldn’t clip in at all. When i got home, i looked at the cleats and noticed one of the bolts came off each of the cleats? Is there any reason this might have happened?

cleats with missing bolts

  • maybe more specifically, i am wondering if there are other possible explanations other than “the LBS didn’t properly tighten the bolts” which is an obvious first thought but is i want to make sure there aren’t things i’m overlooking.
    – GageMartin
    Sep 27, 2020 at 1:37
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    Maybe they didn’t spend the time to alternate between both screws when tightening them. Maybe some “settling” occurs during use (you can see that the cleats press a bit into the sole). In any case I’d check/tighten after a few kilometers.
    – Michael
    Sep 27, 2020 at 7:27
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    Funny though that the same bolt came off on each shoe, My money is on not properly tightened bolts. I always recheck after the two first rides. After that, once a month.
    – Carel
    Sep 27, 2020 at 7:53
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    Just check the bolt tightness from time to time (and before the first ride) and you should be fine. If it starts to move during the ride, tighten it using your multitool, a torque wrench is not essential, you probably will end up using too little torque, not too much, anyway. Finish it with a better wrench at home. Sep 27, 2020 at 10:41
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    I always need to retighten once, after undoing/redoing cleat bolts
    – Chris H
    Sep 27, 2020 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


Those bolts need to be secured very carefully.

  • Use a torque wrench set to 5Nm to tighten the bolts, alternating a quarter turn at a time between them.
  • Use plenty of threadlocker on the threads.
  • Use grease or antiseize on the underside of the bolt heads. It’s also best to put some under that “8” shaped piece so it doesn’t rust onto the cleat.
  • Clean the sole of the shoe well with alcohol. Oils under the cleat will obviously help it slide around.
  • I also like to apply liquid candle wax or some other lipid on the exposed parts of the cleat mounting plate to prevent rust.

This may sound excessive, but I’ve never had an issue following this approach. On the contrary, every example I’ve seen of cleats falling off starts with “I just threw the cleats on carelessly”. Treat your cleats and cleat bolts with respect: they carry a lot of load and a lot of responsibility. You’ll be glad you did all this prep work when it comes time to replace your cleats three years later and the bolts are still firmly tightened, but also aren’t frozen in place with rust.

You should definitely bring this up with the shop. They obviously failed the cleat installation. Depending on how chewed up the soles are under the cleats, you might have a case for a new pair of shoes too.

  • 3
    Point 1 is important - you can tighten a bolt till your fingers hurt. Then tighten the other to the same, and you'll find the first bolt is now only finger-tight.
    – Criggie
    Sep 27, 2020 at 5:32
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    SPD cleats seem to call for 5-6 Nm. Crank Brothers cleats are made of softer brass, so this could be why they call for 4 Nm. I wonder how little torque this LBS applied to the cleats... that said, let us all remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that the LBS could have been doing a heavy workload under partial staffing, given the pandemic.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 27, 2020 at 11:20
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    If you use threadlocker on these, the cleats and shows will definitely last the same amount of time and you won't be able to adjust them for long. Those bolt heads are exposed to quite a lot of debris and damage, and the hex sockets are shallow; they're prone to rounding off
    – Chris H
    Sep 27, 2020 at 12:49
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    I think I respectfully disagree that the LBS would necessarily owe the OP a new pair of shoes. The cleat mounting surface is likely nylon. The scratches are likely cosmetic. After a while, that area would get scratched anyway, and the shoes are unlikely to fail just because the unarmored part of the sole gets scratched. I have had carbon soled shoes scratched much worse than this. The scratches didn’t appear to have compromised any fibers in my case.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 27, 2020 at 18:15
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    @MaplePanda They didn't mention new shoes and I wasn't really in the mood to push it. The first time they tried to fix it though they overtightened (maybe because they hadn't been tightened enough the first time?) and broke the cleat plate. So they ended up replacing that as well, but it looks like third times the charm (fingers crossed).
    – GageMartin
    Sep 27, 2020 at 21:49

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