Technical FAQ: Speedplay cleat wear

Why do my Speedplay cleats wear out?

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The Speedplay X series

The Speedplay X seriesPhoto:

Dear Lennard,
I am a 15-year user of Speedplay X-series pedals. I purchased my first pair in 1995, never, ever greased them, and finally replaced them in the summer of 2006 when the bearing in the right pedal seized up on the way up to Ward, Colorado. Suffice it to say, I’m pleased with their durability as well as their function. However, I seem to go through cleats rather quickly. I ride about 4000 to 5000 miles per year and will break two sets per year. Okay, maybe one side twice and the other side once, or something like that. It’s always the same point of failure; the rear clip wire breaks. I started lubing them a few years ago with grease and/or Pro Link chain lube to no avail. I called Excel and they had no answers but did say that switching to the ‘Zero’ model would not help (plus I don’t need any additional float anyway).

What might I be doing wrong? What advice would you give? I’ll continue to pony up for the cleats because I like the pedals that much, but wanted to see if the Zinn Master had any magic bullets.

Answer from Speedplay:

Cleat springs should never break. This will occur only if the cleat spring is prevented from opening and closing properly. There are three possible causes for this.

First, all Speedplay pedal users should make sure that the cleats are installed properly each time. Most important is that the eight cleat-fastening screws should not be over-tightened. Too much tightening torque will bind the cleat springs and prevent them from working properly. Installation instructions are included with all Speedplay pedal systems and cleat sets. This information is also available on the Speedplay web site. Consumers are welcome to call Speedplay’s technical support for additional assistance at 1-800-468-6694. If the cleat springs open and close freely, this is not the cause. (As a side note, the Zero springs are less susceptible to over-tightening and considerably more durable than the springs in the X Series cleats. Ed is welcome to call Speedplay for a more in-depth explanation about the differences.)

Second, the cleats must be lubricated regularly with a dry-type lube that contains Teflon or PTFE. If the cleats are not lubricated adequately, the springs will not open and close properly. Oil, WD-40, or wet chain lubes should never be used as they attract dirt and debris. (Pro Gold is the only exception because it does not attract dirt.) A complete list of recommended lubes is included with all pedal systems and cleat sets, and can also be found at

Third, the cleats must be kept free of dirt, mud and debris. If the cleat springs are jammed, the springs cannot operate properly. You can rinse the cleats with water to clear the contamination. Be sure to lubricate after cleaning. If a cyclist intends to walk in their cycling shoes, I highly recommend the use of Speedplay Coffee Shop Caps that will protect the cleats from contamination. Speedplay cleats, like any technical product, require care and maintenance to deliver optimal performance. Taking these simple steps will provide miles and miles of riding enjoyment.
Richard Bryne
Speedplay founder and president