It's important to remember to look after your kit as well as your bike, and replacing worn cleats early will prevent accidental unclipping and stop them getting seized in place on your shoes.
Here are seven steps to setting up clipless pedal cleats.
1. Remove the cleat bolts
Remove any dirt from the bolt heads with a pick and penetrating oil, then use a good-quality 4mm Allen key to remove the bolts, turning them anticlockwise.
2. Position the new cleat
Shimano cleats can go on either shoe. CrankBrothers pedal users should put the cleat with a dot on the right shoe for a 15° release angle and easier unclipping, or the left for 20° release. Place the cleat spacer between the cleat and sole, with the smooth side facing the cleat.
3. Screw in the cleat bolts
Grease the new cleat bolts and thread them through the concave side of the cleat washer and then the cleat itself. Use the 4mm Allen key to screw the bolts into the threaded plate that sits inside the shoe. Leave them loose enough that the cleat can still be moved around.
4. Set the fore/aft position of the cleat
Some XC riders like the cleats set forward to engage the calf muscles, but a more rearward position gives better control on descents. Try fitting them all the way back to begin with, then moving them forward until you find a comfy position.
5. Set the side-to-side position of the cleat
If you’ve got big feet or clumpy downhill shoes you’ll probably want to place the cleat inboard on the shoe as this will move the shoe away from the crank arm, reducing the risk of fouling when unclipping.
6. Set the cleat angle
Most riders line them up straight(ish) with the shoe. Angling the cleat slightly inwards (towards the big toe) means you’ll unclip sooner, and vice versa. But a cleat angle that puts your foot into an unnatural position during pedalling can cause knee problems.
7. Tighten the bolts
Tighten the bolts alternately, a little at a time, until tight. Then clip in and ride. If you’re unhappy with the cleat position, loosen the cleat, adjust appropriately and then retighten in the same way. Repeat until you have it dialled, then repeat the whole process on the other shoe.
8. And you're done!
Release angle: The angle through which you have to twist your foot before the pedal mechanism will disengage. CrankBrothers offers a choice of release angles, while Shimano provides just one, though its pedals have adjustable tension (the force required to unclip).