August 12, 2013
The first pair of these shoes died a premature death following last year’s Transvesubienne race. Because it was a ‘race’, I wore my new ‘race shoes’ without having really done very much research about what sort of a race it was, and with catastrophic results (for the shoes, anyway). Disco slippers like this are meant […]
The first pair of these shoes died a premature death following last year’s Transvesubienne race. Because it was a ‘race’, I wore my new ‘race shoes’ without having really done very much research about what sort of a race it was, and with catastrophic results (for the shoes, anyway).
Disco slippers like this are meant for hard and fast pedal action, not hiking for hours up steep and jagged alpine trails, so it wasn’t really a surprise to find the naked carbon stripped of its soft rubber tread once we reached the seafront in Nice. Still, they were comfy throughout and didn’t give me a single blister despite the blatant abuse of purpose, and Lake barely lifted an eyebrow when I handed them back and asked for a replacement pair which, almost a year later, is still going strong.
I’ve been a little more careful with these ones, avoiding using them for rides which I know in advance will be more suited to something more flexible, but as they’re one of the nicest pairs of shoes I own I still find myself wearing them for maybe 80% of my rides, from long, multi-day adventures to daily commuting.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to the price. I am sure there are people who look at someone commuting in £160 shoes and simply think: ‘Twat.’ Well, fair enough – but if I was spending this much on specialist footwear I’d be wanting to get my money’s worth out of it. They’d also probably be the only shoes I could afford. Besides, wearing nice shoes completely spoils you for any other kind, almost to the point of being a sort of doping – do your everyday riding in floppy, sloppy kicks then switch to the uber-stiff foot corset for race day. Or long ride day. Or tailwind-up-Cragg day. Whatever floats your boat.
Unlike some top-end footwear, the MX331 is pleasantly subtle with all the clever stuff hidden in its innards. It’s lined with heat-mouldable ‘Thermoform’ in key places and the first pair was custom fitted for me by Lake’s foot-fettler Martin. The second I did myself following the instructions, and the fit was every bit as good. This is important because your feet change shape over time and season, and as the material is re-mouldable it’s worth learning from the experts first so you can then tweak the fit yourself.
As you’d expect, the carbon sole is stiffer than a stiff thing, but thanks to the mouldable insides, it’s perfectly comfortable. The carbon-shelled heel cup and its lining can be pushed right in to snug around your Achilles, making sure that there’s no heel lift to cause blisters or hot spots, while the BOA fitting pulls gently across and around each foot, spreading the ‘tight, tighter, tightest’ pressure of ratchets more evenly for comfort. I’ve not had any problems whatsoever with the lace or mechanism, despite some filthy rides – and BOA happily sends out free replacement laces should you manage to break one somehow. The soft rubber heel cleats are replaceable, too. The supple leather uppers are looking reasonably scuffed now, but no more than I’d expect after a test period of this length, and the grippy rubber sole is still going strong with just the odd bit of wear, which again is perfectly acceptable at this point in proceedings.
Overall: If I had to buy one pair of shoes, it would probably be something like the Lake MX331.