Ask a Mechanic | Removing Stuck Cleats, Picking the Right Aero Bars

Welcome to our Ask a Mechanic column where our expert mechanic Daniel Slusser answers your bike maintenance questions. If you have a question for Daniel, please post it on our Facebook Wall or e-mail Daniel directly at Today’s column will review how to remove cleats after the attachment screws have rusted or been damaged. Daniel also reviews aero bar compatibility and how to choose the right style for you.


I just got a new pair of Giro Factor shoes that I am really excited about but I can’t get my Speedplay cleats off of my old shoes. The bolts are frozen and the heads on the rear section of the cleat are a little worn down. One of the bolts is so messed up that I can’t get any grip on it with a screwdriver. Any tips on getting these bolts out? I suppose I could just buy new cleats but I would rather save my money. From: Tony


You might think you are screwed, but don’t worry, I have a fix. This is one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I like to always grease cleat bolt threads to make sure they don’t rust and become seized in place. Inspection on all cleats, but especially Speedplay, is critical to preventing this situation from happening as well. But since it is too late for any of these processes, here is some advice on removal.

Before doing anything else with a damaged bolt, put some penetrating oil in the threads and where the head meets the part to help loosen it up. Let it sit for at least a half hour before attempting to extract it. The next thing is to make sure that the head of the screw is free of any debris. Use a sharpened spoke or the tip of a knife to pry out any sand. Then, tighten all the screws on the cleat other than the one you want to extract. This will remove tension from the bad bolt and make extraction a bit easier.

When it comes time to use the screwdriver, make sure that you are using the right sized screwdriver tip. The tip of the screwdriver should fill in as much of the Phillips screw head depression as possible. Most people make the mistake of using too small of a screwdriver and strip out the screw’s head. When you apply counter-clockwise torque for extraction, push down very hard on the screwdriver to keep the tip planted in the head of the screw. Usually, this is all you need to do to get things going.

In cases where you can’t get a good enough purchase on the screw head, or it is too badly damaged, it is time to get out the drill. Ideally, you would have an extraction tool of some kind in the chuck of the drill, but if you don’t, just drill the head off of the screw with a drill bit that is the same size as the shaft of the screw. Once the head is off, just clamp the remaining stump with some vice grips and back it out. This shouldn’t be too hard at this point, unless the screw is badly rusted, because with the head missing the bolt will have no tension on it.

Worst case scenario you just buy new cleats. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?


Profile’s ZBS S-Bend bars are great for rider that prefer an aggressive tt position.


I want to get a nice set of aero bars for my my Cervelo S2. Next month I am doing my first triathlon and want to have the right equipment. I don’t know if it matters, but I have 3T Ergonova LTD carbon bars. Any suggestions? From: Sandy


Do not put aero bars on your 3T LTD carbon bars! They are not compatible. If you had the 3T Team Carbon bars they would be. In general, using clip-ons on carbon bars is not a good idea. The clamps on the aero bars can damage the carbon if it is not reinforced along the sections on either side of where the stem clamps.

If you had compatible bars, I would recommend the Profile Design ZBS S-Bend aerobars if you are flexible enough to maintain an aggressive and low tt position. If not, I would go with the Profile Design ZBS Ski Bend aero bars should do the trick for you. Both are relatively light and won’t break the bank.

Daniel Slusser is a professional bicycle mechanic with over ten years of experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from HSU and a master’s degree in history from Cal Poly University. When he is not riding, wrenching, or writing he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.