Written by Chris Cyr Friday, 02 March 2007 00:00
First off, the fit of these shoes was dead on for me, I'm a 44 EE so the extra wide size provided my toes with some wiggle room and enough space to allow circulation. It’s also important to have a little pocket of air around the toes for warmth. For each test ride I only wore a pair of mid-weight wool socks.
I spent most of the time riding on the road with one off road ride on the snowmobile trails; conditions were mostly dry with temperature ranges from 10 - 35 degrees. Factor in wind chill and some rides were well below zero. I never put the shoes through a vigorous waterproof test but they did provide super water resistance in any slush and road spray. I would have no doubt that their high cut Pittard leather with a snug neoprene cuff would be weather resistant comparable to any other shoe or cover out there. I am constantly trying to figure out the best and warmest combinations of shoes, socks and booties to keep my feet happy. My toes have been so cold and white that it was scary. I can compare the Lakes with Gaerne's winter shoe and my non-winter Sidi's with Pearl Izumi Typhoon booties. I have also worn different sock combinations, baggies covering my toes, toe warmers, duct tape. You name it, I've tried it and nothing worked better than the Lakes.
Now for the ride!
10 degrees and the wind is gusting up to 25mph. I don't know how I can I get excited about heading out for a ride but I was. Like I said, the shoes fit like a glove, by far the easiest to put on and the BOA lacing system secured my feet to a comfortable snugness. Hands down the best system out there, mush easier than trying to fight with laces and zippers. The cross lacing cable system is very user friendly and can be dialed in with precision, the outer flap kept everything under cover. My feet were very comfortable for about 30-45 minutes then they started to get a little chilly, they seemed reach a certain point were the temperature of my toes leveled off and stayed cold and a bit tingly but never to a point of becoming dangerously cold and frost bitten, I have been there before. The nylon soles are not as stiff as a carbon sole but are rigid enough to provide power to the pedals and are fairly comfortable when walking if needed. The rubber sole tread pattern worked well when hiking through snow and slush and they do have mounting holes available for toe cleats. I would recommend cleats if one plans on doing any trail riding where there is a great deal of ice. As grippy as these soles are, walking on shear ice is still very slick, my right hip and elbow can attest to that.
The shoes are a bit heavy, each shoe weighs 648grams. Compared to my Gaernes at 526g and my Sidi Dominators with booties came in at 712g, the little extra weight was never a burden and worth it for the wide construction.
I do have a few gripes that I need to mention. The shoes did loosen up during some of my longer rides especially if I put in some hard efforts. I don't believe it the fault the lacing system, I think it was more leather stretching. This may remedy itself over time. In spite of this, when the shoes did loosen up or felt a bit to tight I was able to easily make adjustments on the fly even while wearing my lobster mittens. The biggest complaint is pedal engagement. With my Time ATAC pedals I had to be dead on for them to clip in. The rubber sole doesn't provide ample space for easy engagement, if these were my shoes the first thing I would do is trim some of the rubber away from the cleat area. As good as the BOA lacing system is, I did feel a bit of pressure towards the tops of my feet if I ratcheted up the cables too tight.
A Final Word
Complaints aside, the Lake MXZ301 wides were by far the best winter cycling footgear I have ridden. Comfort, warmth, dryness, performance and ease of use are all important factors when considering a winter riding shoe and Lake hit the target with these. Warm and comfy feet equal happy feet and that’s what gets me out on the bike during the long Maine winters.
Editors note: The wide MXZ301 is in development and not currently available for sale. The blue color is for prototype identifying purposes only. The production model will be black. Expected avaialablity is fall of 2007. The regular width version of the Lake road and mountain winter shoes are availble in our Winter Shoes section.
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