So... when I install cleats, usually a replacement pair on shoes that already have cleats, I do the following:
1. Mark the cleat position.What I really wanted to mention is that you should check your cleats and replace them if you think you're getting even a little close to wearing them thin enough to break. I checked my cleats last week at the Nutmeg State Games and thought, oh, these are fine, I'll replace them in the next month or so.
2. Clear out the fasteners (allen head or screw fitting).
3. Remove old cleat.
4. Put anti-seize on the new screws (or the old ones if I'm reusing them for some reason, very unlikely).
5. Put all the screws on lightly.
6. After checking alignment tighten all screws up to spec.
7. Note, for Look Keo cleats don't go bonkers on the screws - the cleats will crack if you overtighten them. What's overtightening them? It's when you tighten them until they crack.
8. Do a sanity check and put the shoe on and clip in. You don't want to find out that the cleat isn't in the right place 5 minutes before a race.
9. Oh, I forgot to mention - don't do this 5 minutes before a race.
I figured I'd replace them the next time I was on the trainer in the basement - it happens to be where most of my spare cleats reside (one set in the auxiliary gear bag upstairs, but the other four or so sets are in the basement, including a couple pair in my main gear bag).
The problem was that I didn't know what to look for and therefore I never really checked them. Unfortunately I found out the hard way that my cleats really did need replacing. I looked at them a bit more carefully and found what I didn't know before.
From left: broken, worn, new. Below, just sitting on the shoe, is another new cleat.
If you look carefully at the two worn ones you can see the white stuff (kind of a slippery plastic, I guess for easier clipping out) has two pins going into the grey bit of plastic. You can see the white dots in the grey area of the worn cleats, just behind (or below in the picture above) the rear screws.
This picture shows that the white dots are recessed when the cleat is not worn.
In this shot it's easier to see that the worn cleat's white dots are even with the surface of the cleat. The red cleat's white dots are recessed. The newer grey cleat, with some extra protection on the bottom, doesn't even have visible white dots.
So now I know. Look for the white dots on your Keo cleats - if you see them replace the cleat. I didn't know until today and I was lucky that nothing happened - a full throttle sprint, a hard shift up, and bing, the cleat went.
I couldn't put much pressure on the pedals - at about 110-120 watts my right foot would just pop free.
Obviously I'll be replacing the cleats before my next ride.
My punishment for letting my equipment go? A half mile climb at about 250 watts using basically just my left leg while seated. A good workout, okay, but for a bad reason.