Jim Langley Replied:
Shimano SPD cleats are super durable in my experience, and they tend to last at least several years even when used mountain biking and walking a lot on rocks and other damaging surfaces. So, unless you’ve walked in them a lot on hard terrain and used them hard on the bike, they are probably still in good condition.
The classic sign of wear is that it becomes harder to get your feet out of the pedals. This happens because the tips and tails of the cleats start to round off and wear away. When this happens the cleats aren’t long enough to spread the pedal jaws sufficiently to release the cleats/shoes when you twist your feet to get out.
So, if it becomes hard to release your feet, that’s the time to replace the cleats. Worn cleats usually are easier to get into the pedals so you may feel a bit more slop when you’re riding. But to most people that doesn’t feel too bad, so you might not notice it. You will notice not being able to get out, though.
That’s been my experience with the SPD cleats. I hope it’s helpful. I could never really see the wear and I never tried measuring the cleats with an accurate gauge, though that might work actually if you have one.
Coach Fred Matheny Replied:
I agree with Jim — SPD cleats wear very slowly. I use mine mostly for road riding these days because I like the walkable feature of recessed cleat shoes. With minimal walking, except for sojourns into coffee shops or convenience stores and rest stops on tours, I rarely have to replace cleats. I do it every couple of years out of a sense of obligation. I’ve never experienced difficulty in releasing cleats from the pedals, so guess that I probably replaced the cleats prematurely. They last a long time!
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