Replacing Laces for Mountain Bike Shoes

After a few trips through puddles and not properly drying out mountain bike shoes, my laces finally wore out and broke. Rather than replacing the whole shoe, swapping out the old laces for new ones seemed more economical. Shoe laces cost only a few dollars, while a new pair of kicks can be $150+!

Laces wear out fairly easily if you leave them wet and dirty. Mud will dry and break down the fabric, making it so when you pull them tight instead they just snap. If you want to avoid having to replace laces regularly the best thing to do is to clean and dry your shoes as soon as possible after a ride. The longer a shoe and lace sit in their own filth the worse the wear will be on the laces. This is especially bad if you wind up lacing up shoes that were never cleaned and suddenly snap a lace right as you are about to hit the trails.

Broken laces on mountain bike shoes from not caring for them


After a day on the trails, plowing through stream crossings and blasting down dirt trails, maintaining gear isn’t glamours but it is needed. Leaving wet shoes to air dry, especially if left in a place where they won’t do so quickly, is a recipe for disaster. Take the time to rinse off shoes and they’ll last much longer. 

This advice is mostly for shoes designed to ride on flat pedals. Since these typically have a thick sole you can hose off the bottom as well to avoid mud caking, although it’s fun to let that dry and just bang them together.

For riding shoes with cleats it might be necessary earlier to inspect and ensure everything is working. Cleats also wear out over time, especially if walked on often. 

Replacing BOA Laces for Cycling Shoes

Some racing and riding shoes will also have no no tie laces, or BOA laces. Replacing these types can get a little costlier as it may be a whole “system” to replace and occasionally is integrated into the upper of the shoes. Thankfully the BOA team has produced a ton of content on how to swap out various parts of the system.

When buying replacement bike shoe laces it’s important to get the right length. Take out the old laces and measure them to get a sense of the length.

Getting a lace that’s too long can actually be a hazard. If a longer lace comes undone, or even if it doesn’t but the end hangs over, it risks getting caught around a crank, in a wheel spoke, or in the chain mechanism. Before long that will snap off the lace, pull your foot tight, or cause a crash.

How to care for shoes and shoelaces to get the most life out of them?

It’s possible to make your laces last longer. There is nothing more frustrating than being all set to go out for a ride, then pulling tightly on a shoe and snapping a lace. Going from “ready to go” to “another thing to do maintenance on” is typical of mountain biking though. Thankfully this is an issue that can be avoided. To keep laces, and shoes more generally, in good shape they must be treated well.Clean them, and keep them away from extreme humidity or temperature.

Do mountain bike shoe laces break often?

Only if you don’t care for them. Laces should really not be the first thing to go on a shoe, but if they are at least they are the easiest to fix. With proper care the laces should last just as long as the sole and upper of a bike shoe. One reason why they might be the first thing to go is all the snags and chances for rips that are caused to the lace.

Still replacing laces can be nice to provide a new look to a shoe or even for function. If flat laces keep coming untied, there are other ribbed ones that supposedly hold better (especially if you use some non traditional tiring method). A good lace will help make the shoe feel more secure. This is crucial since ultimately it’s the part of equipment that connects you to the bike.