Cycling is not only a great way to stay in shape, but it also offers a lovely escape from normal life. There’s something very special about escaping into the wilderness and getting some peace and quiet.
For me personally, this is one reason why I adore cycling so much and find it incredible for mental health. One thing that can quickly ruin a peaceful ride is annoying noises, and right up there with some of the most annoying noises is a squeaky cycling shoe.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about squeaky cycling shoes and how to fix them. We will be discussing:
Why Do Cycling Shoes Squeak?
Unfortunately, there’s not one reason alone why cycling shoes squeak. There are many. Here’s what I find to be the most common causes:
The first reason you are going to get squeaky shoes is if you have loose cycling cleats. When one of the bolts has a little bit of play, it can cause the sole to creak and squeak. It’s a very easy fix of just tightening the bolt up on the bottom.
Worn Out Pedal
Although not the shoe itself, this causes exactly the same noise as a squeaky shoe. If your pedals are worn out, and the bearings are a little loose, then you are going to get a squeaking.
Typically, every pedal rotation it will do this and even more under load. An easy fix is to service or change your pedals.
Surprisingly, another very big cause of squeaky cycling shoes is moisture. When too much moisture gets inside the shoe, especially between the base and the sole, it starts to squeak and gets louder the wetter it gets.
Another big cause of squeaky shoes is stuck objects. When using clip-in pedals, if mud or rocks get caught in between the mechanism, it causes the shoes to squeak. To fix this, you just need to remove whatever is inside.
Unfortunately, shoes are not something you will want to go cheap on. Although cheap shoes might feel pretty good to start with, they soon fall apart over time and start to squeak. I highly recommend investing well in branded high-end cycling shoes.
Dry Or Bent Chainring
After working in a bike shop for many years, I have learned a lot about bike noises, and one noise that sounds very similar to a squeaky bike shoe is a bent tooth on an unoiled chainring. It’s definitely worth checking the chainring to see if that’s causing a squeak.
How To Stop A Squeaky Cycling Shoe
When it comes to stopping a squeaky cycling shoe, it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s my step-by-step guide!
Step One: Clean And Inspect The Shoes
The first step is to take the shoes off your feet and give them a very deep clean. The best way is by hand, but some people use the washing machine on a cold wash.
Make sure to remove the soles and get really stuck in. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines is important.
We do this to remove any debris and dirt to ensure it’s not causing any issues. It’s so common to have a rock caught in a flexible point or somewhere creating friction resulting in a squeak.
Once cleaned, leave them out to dry. Avoid the tumble dryer as this can easily damage them.
Once dry, you will need to inspect them for any damage or cracks. If you find anything wrong with the shoes, this could be the cause of the squeak.
Step Two: Tighten Or Replace The Cleats
The next step you need to take is to inspect the cleats. If they are very worn out, then you are going to want to replace them. Not only do worn cleats ruin the cycling experience, but they also slip out pedals easily.
If your cleats are in good condition, then you are going to want to check the tightness of the bolts. It’s not rare for these to come loose, and because of that squeak. We recommend going to the correct torque setting provided by the manufacturer.
I like removing the cleats altogether and putting them back in again with grease on the threads. Not only does that stop them from getting stuck, but it also can stop possible squeaking issues later down the line.
Step Three: Inspect And Test Pedals
The next step you need to take is to inspect and test the pedals. We do this because it’s common that pedals are often the cause of a squeaky shoe. I have found this many times and know always to check.
You are going to want to first hold the pedal in your hand while on the bike and check for any play. Pulling them from left to right across the axle allows you to feel if there is any.
If you find play, you are going to want to service the pedals or replace them altogether, as sometimes that’s the cheaper option.
It is always a good idea to test the pedals at this point. When doing this, you shouldn’t use shoes you think are squeaking. If you do, it’s much harder to identify a problem with the pedals.
Step Four: Test
Finally, the last thing we recommend you do is to test the shoes and pedals together. Following the last few steps, you should have a squeakless set of shoes.
Remember, the longer the test, the better.
A Final Note
Thanks for taking the time to read our article. We hope by using this information, you have found the solution to that annoying squeak and now can ride in peace.
It’s always worth changing cleats regularly, not just for performance but safety too.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.