Winter cycling shoes can be expensive (upwards of $400 in some cases) and are not the most glamorous purchase. Here are five ways to bring your old winter cycling shoes back to life so you can save money for a new race wheelset or new frame you're lusting after.
1. Aerogel winter insoles
These cold weather-specific insoles stop outside factors from affecting performance (think metal cleats under the footbed). Recently made famous by companies such as Lake and 45NRTH, Aerogel insoles are now standard in most top-of-the-line winter cycling footwear.
2. Toe and ice spikes
Toe spikes are essential for winter riding, especially in icy conditions. Unless of course you like duck walking up steep hills. Spikes can also help you avoid serious injury if dabbing on black ice or a creek crossing. Upgrades like this will add confidence to your winter riding and help you stay out of a sling for spring. We suggest checking out Horst Ice-Spikes or Bontrager Sabertooth Spikes. But any taller narrow cleat will do the trick. Good choices include shop.horstengineering.com and www.trekbikes.com.
3. New cleats
If you're overhauling your shoes, one of the best ways to start a season off is with new cleats. Riding with new cleats is a good feeling and you can be confident that you won't pull out of the pedals over logs or ice mounds. We suggest installing new cycling cleats with Loctite 242 (blue) or Anti-Seize (for alloy backing plates). Installation with compounds like this ensure minimal risk of corrosion that will seize bolts in place. No one likes having to drill cleats out and that can be dangerous work on an expensive winter shoe. Loctite is a controlled seize that you can break free with little effort and will not allow corrosion to occur. Anti-Seize helps different metals not react to each other. So if you have alloy backing plates on your winter shoes, anti-seize will assure the bolt stays removable. We suggest Loctite 242.
4. Use Aquaseal on punctures, holes, and abrasions
Aquaseal is known widely in the cyclocross community as a wonder serum that can waterproof tires, apparel, and everything in between. Its flexible and waterproof nature make it perfect for winter shoe repair - and scuba suits. Aquaseal comes in a squeeze tube and goes on very thick, so use a small amount to familiarize yourself with the viscosity before going crazy. Once applied it dries shiny clear and can last for months, even years. It's available at most scuba and outdoor shops or at www.nrs.com.
5. DWR and Camp Dry spray
First clean your shoes thoroughly with Nikwax, Dawn soap, or any cleaner that won't leave a residue. A good cleaner will remove oils and debris, but not be so abrasive that it will eat away rubber, logos, or printing. After your shoes are clean and dry, apply waterproofing spray 7 to 10 inches apart with a light, even coat. For maximum protection apply a second layer after 4 hours. Only perform this step in a highly ventilated area or outside. This process will create an extremely tough water barrier, while still allowing materials to breathe. We recommend us.kiwicare.com.
Bonus: Keep shoes dry and odor free with cedar shoe bags
Cedar shoe bags, such as those available from Wood Lore, work wonders on smelly, sweaty cycling shoes. Yes, you are paying for a bag of wood, but you can make your own with some cedar chips and a thin fabric bag. Point is, cotton breathable bags filled with cedar chips will absorb moisture up to twice their weight, and deodorize your shoes leaving the fresh scent of cedar behind. You'll get the same drying effect with newspaper crumpled up and packed into the shoe, but it doesn't leave a beautiful cedar scent behind. So do your shoes a solid and keep them smelling fresh, your riding mates will thank you. We recommend www.woodlore.com.