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So, the fastener on my old shoes broke beyond my ability to fix it. I got a new pair of shoes and am in the process of transferring my old cleats to those shoes.

The problem is, it appears that the hex slot in one bolt head is warped. The hex key I used to take the other screw out doesn't go in at all. I got the other screw out by sticking a socket wrench head in partway and hammering on it a bit, but no luck on this one.

Cleat with the hex-slot warped

What are my options for taking this cleat off?

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  • 2
    So, I realize it's a bit late now, but I suspect you let the cleats wear past the point where they should have been replaced. When they don't clip in tightly to the pedals and it feels like my shoe can wiggle up and down while clipped in, I replace mine. The surface of the hex bolts isn't worn off at that time. Also, this would be a potential illustration of the value of good tools - cheaper hex keys have poorer tolerances and they may fit more loosely in a hole, so they could round out a hex bolt.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Apr 21 at 19:09
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    PS, "rounded out" is probably the term you are looking for to describe what's happened to the bolt. There's also "stripped", but that refers to the thread getting damaged rather than the opening of the hex hole getting rounded.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Apr 21 at 19:26
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    Cleats are really not that that expensive and this one really looks like it's far beyond its use-by-date.
    – Carel
    Apr 21 at 20:36
  • Anyway, you'll destroy the screw, most certainly, and the plate possibly as well. These items aren't sold separately and if, then probably at the same price as new cleats.
    – Carel
    Apr 21 at 21:02
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    Hammer a T27 torx bit in. Unscrew as normal. Use new bolts.
    – JoeK
    Apr 21 at 21:08
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The simplest thing to do would be to buy new cleats.

If you're absolutely set on re-using this cleat, there is a tool called a screw extractor that lets you tap a small reverse-threaded hole in your existing screw. You'll need a power drill to use it. You will at minimum need new screws.

You might be able to fit a hacksaw blade between the cleat and sole to saw off the old bolt, but that seems less reliable.

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  • I also considered using a hacksaw to cut a flat-head slot on the head, but it would be a real chore if I cared enough to keep the cleat.
    – HAEM
    Apr 21 at 19:18
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    Screw extractors work quite well for this, but I’d first recommend cleaning the dirt out of the bolt head (scraping with a small pin is one way to do that) then try the Allen key again.
    – Andrew
    Apr 21 at 20:34
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    Try a Torx-bit that is slightly bigger AND expendable and hammer it in, if you really have to re-use the cleat. Because they are slightly conical and the hex hole is straight it will bite into the corners.
    – Carel
    Apr 21 at 20:43
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    Good tip on the torx, but in this case, I would check the torx is not worth more than new cleats.
    – mattnz
    Apr 22 at 1:20
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Doing this with the other hole empty is hurting your cause. Using another fully lubricated bolt in good condition to relieve preload sometimes makes this situation go easy and is always helpful. You mount an SPD cleat by alternating back and fourth until both bolts are torqued since preload on one relieves it from the other, so you need to employ the same principle in reverse here. Grease the shoulder and tighten it to the brink of breaking something.

The bolt head doesn't look so destroyed that a good 3mm wrench in good condition will get nothing on it. If that is the spot you're in, using a dremel cut-off wheel to make flathead screwdriver flats usually works well on SPD bolts. And then if that doesn't work, just go the rest of the way down with the mini end mill dremel bits to obliterate the center of the bolt head.

Some shoes are put together in a way where the tongue and insole can be made sufficiently out of the way to use the plate as leverage from the inside. In other words, if the plate is resting on the sole as opposed to being inset, you may be able to twist it with the other bolt out. If you were up against corrosion as opposed to preload, that approach could also work.

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  • In my experience - the 'standard' dremel cut off wheel is terrible. If you can get fiberglass reinforced ones, they are significantly better Apr 23 at 14:03
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A dremel/rotary tool made this really easy last time it occurred to me. Just cut a slot, load a flat head bit into a ratchet, and zip it right out. Cut the slot nice and deep.

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If you really want to save the cleat (which looks pretty worn) the simplest option is to simply drill the head of the offending screw out. All this needs is an electric drill and some drill bits. While screw extractors may work, most people don't have them and they wreck the screw anyway. It would take less than a minute to drill the screw out.

Use the existing other screw and select a drill bit that is the same size (or a tiny bit bigger) as the thread part of the screw. Secure the shoe in a vise or something to hold it very steady, put the drill bit on the hex area of the bad screw head, and drill away. The clip will pop right off. The bad screw threads will still remain in the shoe.

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I don't see getting that screw out without ruining it, so what is the point? It's unlikely that you have another screw that can successfully replace the ruined screw. You have new shoes, so get new cleats.

When you attach the new cleats to your new shoes, put some grease on the screw threads before installing them. That should make it a lot easier to get the screws out someday, without ruining the screws. This is a step that a lot of people neglect to do, and that's probably why you are in the situation you are in right now.

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Since the cleat is stuck on your old shoe, you can destroy as much as needed of that old shoe to get at the bolt with a hacksaw.

Always be mindful of what parts you want to save, and what can be destroyed. If you're throwing away the shoe, it becomes expandable.


But let's be real, buy new cleats.

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I have extracted warped/partially-stripped hex head screws many times by using flat screwdrivers. Usually I use a T-handle that accepts modular screwdriver bits, and I go through my collection of different-size flat screwdriver bits until I find one which I can jam into a pair of opposing corners of the roughly-hex cavity. I often have to lean the screwdriver over to make the screwdriver bit dig into the screw I'm trying to remove, so as not to spit my screwdriver out when I apply torque.

Also, some penetrating lubricant like WD-40 or Liquid Wrench (which is best kept out of the cavity where you'll be trying to jam in the screwdriver, as it's slippery) can make the job easier, by loosening the rust I would assume is helping bind the screw to the mounting plate.

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