Built for riding more so than walking
With all of the flash shoes at the top (and even at the middle) of the shoe market, Lake’s second-best MX237 stands apart for not trying too hard to stand out. Sure, there is flash orange available, but given the price of high-end shoes it’s nice to have an option that won’t look dated before the season is over.
With a full-grain leather upper and only minimal mesh panels, the MX237 is a clean looking shoe that won’t be overwhelmed with moisture the moment rain starts. While the tradeoff should come in terms of breathability, the shoe never felt uncomfortably hot during our hot summer together. Minimal branding and a generously-sized -but also black- reflective panel won’t serve as starting line intimidation: perfect for those who let their riding (or freakishly large legs) do the talking.
The Competition last on which the Lakes are built is “specifically shaped for optimal power transfer and comfort,” and doesn’t disappoint. The MX237s are supremely stiff for mountain shoes, adding a touch of urgency to each pedal stroke. Despite their stiffness, the well-shaped uppers and fine tuning allowed by the dual Boa closures have made the black boots long-ride favourites.
Long rides, that is, that don’t call for much time off the bike. While the moderately aggressive natural rubber lugs are plenty tacky for scrambling over rocks and roots, the soles’ full-carbon construction doesn’t give much ahead of the cleat, reducing the tread’s effectiveness. Making things worse, the natural leather at the toe extends beyond the edge of the sole, thoroughly exposed. Compounding the issue the leather softens in wet weather, making the uppers even more vulnerable after stream crossings or on damp days. Our samples were quickly scarred. While performance has not been compromised, we quickly learned to leave them home on trudge-y days.
The positioning of the Boa closures is quite comfortable, but does leave them susceptible to grabby trailside plants, which were successful at prying one or both open on several occasions, leading to a very loose shoe.
Overall: the MX237s are well suited to their intended use: cross-country racing. They’re stiff, comfortable, and well-made shoes that mould themselves to their owner’s feet. For those who spend time off of the bike, there are better options on the market.
Lake’s next model down, the £145/$230 MX217, stays with the carbon fibre sole and Competition fit but uses thicker leather that the company says is suited to the sort of abuse our shoes typically see.
|Tested:||by Marc B for Five Months|