It's now a little over a year since my first set of cleats. The cleats are LOOK-style, but are not LOOK-branded.

The shoes are holding up well, but the cleats are falling apart. They are in any case made from plastic+rubber and clearly count as a consumable that must be periodically replaced.

Can I continue to ride with the cleats pictured or must I wait to get a new set of cleats? (Even in my hybrid bike toe-clips commuter days, but especially now on a road bike, I find pushing without pulling to be quite inefficient and distinctly irritating.) Does the broken corner (see picture) impede proper locking into the pedals?

broken corner in LOOK-style cleats

Also, I can now feel that the 9° float adds to my confusion. Especially when dismounting in a hurry, I prefer to be able to unlock faster. The 9° float only delays unlocking. I am not quite sure yet that I nailed the bike fit (I did it myself), and so it's perhaps prudent to switch to 4.5° float and delay the 0° cleats for the next stage.

In other words, I will anyway replace these cleats soon. Still, I'd like to understand whether the broken corner (see picture) of these cleats signal that they are no longer usable. I can lock in and unlock easier than it used to be (without readjusting the pedal's spring), but the spring can perhaps get looser on its own with time.

If you see one (the right foot, right also in the picture) is more heavily used than the other, it's because I always dismount on the right, which is especially handy in a country with right-of-the-road driving, since I can then use the edge of the sidewalk/pavement to lean while remaining seated. Just like always using one of the two wheels to brake means that those brake pads will get worn long before the other pair, it makes perhaps sense to learn to alternate. Expect a future question with the subject line: "Do British cyclists wear out cleats on the left foot much faster than on the right?" (though I'm in no particular hurry to know the answer.)

Update: It may be inaccurate to call these simply Look- (or LOOK-) style. There are at least two variations, Look-Keo and Look-Delta, and they are presumably non-interchangeable.

Same cleats, a year and thousands of km of riding ago:

From linked question

  • 1
    I don't have an answer, but this sort of thing is why I always keep a spare set of cleats in my bike spares box.
    – Andy P
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:02
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    I have a new chain, tyre, bar plugs, bar tape and tubeless sealant in the spares box too. All things that are easy to fix at home with minimal effort, but can cause disruption if you don't have them when you need them.
    – Andy P
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:18
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    Walk less, ride more ;) I’m surprised you can still lock into the pedals with the broken off nose. Worst case the pedals will unlock under load, so I wouldn’t climb or sprint too hard. If you’d like less float for unlocking: You could rotate the cleats slightly.
    – Michael
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:40
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    The cleat on the right foot screams for replacement. It's over the top.
    – Carel
    Aug 4, 2021 at 16:10
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    FWIW, my experience with knockoff Shimano SPD-SL cleats was not good. I even posted a review on Amazon with pictures that showed design flaws that would cause the cleat to fail to clip in. Now, good luck finding it because that exact product is now impossible to find on Amazon. Of course the no-name sibling products that look exactly the same with lots of great reviews are all over Amazon. And all the 1-star reviews have specific complaints that lend an air of authenticity to the 1-star reviews that, shall we say, is utterly lacking in the 5-star reviews... Aug 4, 2021 at 20:01

3 Answers 3


The cleat's lip (what you call the corner; I'm not sure what the industry standard term is and I'm going to call it a lip) engages with the front bar of your pedal. So, it's a necessary part of the cleat. In general, as cleats wear, your foot will be not as securely locked in to the pedal. You may feel some slop. Try clipping in, and moving your foot side to side or front to back while clipped in. When to replace your cleats is probably part subjective; some people are probably more sensitive to this type of undesired movement than others. I think most observers would agree that there's no grey area with your cleats, especially the right one.

I can lock in and unlock easier than it used to be (without readjusting the pedal's spring), but the spring can perhaps get looser on its own with time.

Many pedals have an adjustable tension spring, which controls how easy it is to both clip in and clip out. I'm not an engineer, but my understanding is that the spring itself will not have its material properties change, at least not in the timescale mentioned in the question. A rider's perception of how easy it is to clip in probably changes with time, as they get more skilled at the motion. Also, many components have a wearing in period, e.g. they're stiff at first but that loosens up over time and stays that way. Either of those mechanisms could explain your experience as stated above.

Speaking of float: I don't think most people would recommend the no float cleats. With cleats with little to no float, you have to pay attention to how you rotate the cleats on the shoes. Said another way: stand up naturally, and observe the angle that your feet form. They're almost certainly not at a 0 angle, i.e. pointing straight ahead. With float, a consumer can just check their fore-aft and lateral cleat position and call it good enough. With minimal or no float, you have to pay a lot of attention to how you rotate your cleats. From what I know, some pro cyclists favor zero float cleats, especially sprinters. There is zero unnecessary movement when they're putting power down. However, not all of them prefer the zero float cleats. This Global Cycling Network vid interviewed a convenience sample of pro road cyclists, and not all reported using zero-float cleats. For reference in Shimano, red is zero float, blue is 2 degrees (minimal float), yellow is 6 degrees float (the consumer-level cleat). For stock Look cleats, I believe black is no float.

My general understanding is that bike fitters may not recommend zero-float cleats to most riders. This Cyclingweekly article appears to back me up. There's a general discussion on the concept of pedal float. There's a brief yes-no debate with two experts on "should you have float in your cleats?" Even the guy on the "no" side said:

Float is there to deal with any ‘slop’ in the kinetic chain. Most people could do with some, but equally too much can be just as bad as fixed. As long as you get the cleat placed fore/aft, laterally and rotated correctly, and the rider has no issues with the lack of float (i.e. during a fit) then they can be perfectly acceptable.

This article on Bikefit.com also argues to avoid 0-float cleats, at least not until after you've had a bike fit. Speaking of the latter, all cyclists do benefit from periodic bike fits. Even though these seem expensive, they can really help you. This isn't an argument about you switching to 4.5 degree float cleats; I have no hard evidence but my intuition is that this should be just a preference issue.

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    In my experience at least SPD becomes gradually looser and easier to unclip as cleats wear down. Pedals adjusted for worn cleats can be surprisingly tight with new ones.
    – ojs
    Aug 4, 2021 at 17:29
  • @ojs I didn't notice that with SPD cleats (note, not SPD-SL, I am talking about Shimano MTB cleats), but I did notice some up-down play in my right cleat, which went away with a new cleat.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 5, 2021 at 13:29

I find that look cleats work fine, until the corners start chipping off or breaking. At that point, you don't have positive foot retention and a foot can come off the pedal far easier.

For me, my left foot cleat wears out faster than the right, because I stop with left foot down at the lights, and I tend to mount the bike from the left side, which induces a twist on my left foot.
So I save my ~half-worn right cleat, and when I get to the same state on the next set, the worn cleat goes on the left foot and buys me 3~6 more months.

How long cleats will last depends mostly on how much walking you do. Ideally, you'd put the shoes on dead-last before your ride, take one or two steps to the bike, and then not touch the ground again till your ride is over.

In time, my Look Keo cleats last 6~12 months, and I can get another 3~6 months by recycling the less-worn cleat of the pair.

Pros will fit new cleats a week before a big race, and then bed them in with a couple rides. Never hope that worn cleats will last through a race or event - they are consumables like tyres and brake pads.

Those cleats appear to be Look Keo - the Delta version is older, larger, and more pointed in the corners. Delta is also more triangular in overall shape. They are not interchangable in the pedals (though any three-bolt cleat would bolt onto your shoes)

enter image description here
Left, look KEO cleat from belo. Right, look Delta cleat from above. Note they're not in the same orientation.

I think your right cleat is dead, and its time for a new pair. Save the less-worn one, save the unrusted cleat bolts, and buy a new pair of cleats.

It is up to you if you want to go for common 4 degrees of float rather than the wide 9 degrees one. Zero degrees float is for those who already have the perfect cleat position, meaning accurate bike-fits and never need to move on the bike.

Also remember that companies other than Look make compatible cleats. I've used Wellgo ones that were on special and they worked perfectly well. There's a subtle difference in the Snappiness of clipping in, but get some wear on the cleats and that's no longer relevant.

If you're happy with your current cleat position, draw on the underside of the soles with a paint marker or similar before removing the old cleats. I personally scratched a clear line into the plastic. That way you can position the new cleats exactly. Remember to put neverseize or grease on the threads, more so if you ride in salty conditions.

Why save the cleat bolts? They're excellent if you need a M5 thread, which is often the same as your waterbottle cage mounts. So if you loose a cleat bolt, it can make unclipping decidedly difficult. Loose two and you cannot unclip that foot at all, you have to take the shoe off. Its best to have a spare bolt in your bike toolkit.

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    If one walks a lot: cleat covers! The thing is, they are an extra item to carry around. They're not necessary for most cyclists, but I think they help some.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 4, 2021 at 11:58
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    @WeiwenNg: especially to avoid funny (for the spectators) and painful (for yourself) stunts on tiled floors while having the traditional coffee break!.
    – Carel
    Aug 4, 2021 at 15:57
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    That little black piece of plastic on Look cleats works wonders when trying to reposition the cleat at the exact same spot. Unfortunately far too few brands of shoes have the required threads to screw them to the soles. But a tiny drop of liquid super-glue through the oval hole works.
    – Carel
    Aug 4, 2021 at 16:03
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    Just to be clear, though, Shimano and Look now integrate little rubber bumpers onto their cleats. Those are adequate in many situations. Slipping on tiled floors was a big thing when I used Speedplays, and cleat covers were mandatory for those pedals - and then Speedplay eventually woke up and designed the rubber to be integrated into the pedal. You can still buy Shimano and Look covers that cover the whole pedal. I have a pair, I think they're not vital but they do help preserve the existing rubber bumpers a bit. I don't walk much in my road cleats.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 4, 2021 at 17:06
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    I usually just take the shoes off as early as possible. At work I have 3 flights of stairs, I’d probably have fallen to my death by now if I walked them in cycling shoes.
    – Michael
    Aug 5, 2021 at 9:59

It's pretty easy to determine whether cleats continue to be usable, but only if you know how to look at them. Judging by search-engine image results, cleats are always shot from front (facing pedals) or back (facing shoes). Just turn them by 90°.

cleats, seen from the side

The protruding lip (or lack/abrasion of one) will then immediately indicate whether the cleats are usable. They may have two parts in two colors and with two material properties. When one is used up, it's time to replace them.

  • Excellent photo! I tend to put up with slow degradation in clip-in performance over time, till there's a sharp sudden drop and I have problems clipping in. At that point there's normally a lip/ledge completely broken off. Even then I can finish my day's commute and swap cleats when I get home. I stock some cheap aliexpress replacements at home, and swap the left one twice as often as the right one (left foot down at lights)
    – Criggie
    Nov 25, 2022 at 20:36

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