Founded in Evanston Illinois in 1982, Lake is a brand with quite a bit of history. Having created the industry’s first foam insole, first wicking liner, first mountain bike specific shoe, first winter cycling boot, and the first custom moldable carbon sole, Lake has some serious pedigree. Hoping to reclaim their portion of the US market, Lake was purchased from Veltech and is undergoing a relaunch of the storied brand with 45 distributors currently around the world. In the US, Lake shoes are now being distributed by Stage Race Distribution with warehouses in California and New York.
Continuing to push the envelope, Lake’s newest shoes continue their partnership with Boa to offer some very interesting shoes with killer features. If you haven’t checked out Lake before, you owe it to yourself to see what’s new for the coming year.
One of the more interesting shoes Lake had on display was the prototype MX331 cyclocross specific model. Honestly the naming structure is a bit confusing, as Lake calls their road shoes the CX line, and their mountain shoes the MX line. So in the case of this cyclocross specific shoe, it is the MX331 Cyclocross, not the CX331 which is the road shoe but would make more sense given that CX is short for Cyclocross. Get it? Naming aside, the MX331 Cyclocross is a very interesting shoe specifically designed for the rigors of cross.
Built with a 331 upper, the MX331 Cross features a moldable carbon sole and heel cup with a variety of replaceable/removable lugs that can be customized depending on the terrain. The current spikes on the front of this display model look like they would be awesome for clawing your way through sand traps or thick mud. Lake mentioned that there would be quite a few different options for customization including the ability to possibly run some golf spikes which some cross racers are already doing. The MX331 Cross is an industry first that was started in a collaboration with Jpow, and will end up as a lighter shoe than the MX331 MT.
It may be possible that more people in the US know Lake shoes for their 303 winter boot, and with good reason – it was the first, and one of the best. In order to offer something to those who wanted a little less winter protection and also wanted a road specific sole, Lake is introducing the CX and MX 145. Designed for warmer climates than the 303, the 145s feature a waxed canvas outer with a full waterproof, breathable membrane to keep your feet warm and dry. Both 145 options will include reflective accents to keep you safe in the darker Winter months and will be offered in men’s and women’s sizing. Expect availability around August.
Slotting in above the 401 is the new CX402 road shoe with a completely heat modable shell and insole. The new-for-2014 insole (pictured below) is included with the 402/401 or available aftermarket to upgrade other shoes. Like most of Lake’s high end shoes, the 402 is constructed from Kangaroo K-Lite leather which is the most durable leather there is. Built with plenty of perforation and mesh in the tongue, the 402 offers next level breathability, fit and function. It also features the next generation of Boa closure with an additional boa replacing the velcro strap on the 401. The new Boa reduces height and diameter of the click wheels by 3mm and helps to further reduce weight. Like all Boa closures, they carry the “Dialed For Life” guarantee with free parts and free shipping directly from Boa should you have an issue.
One of the interesting features of Lake shoes is their patent pending composite fiber lasting board, which suspends your foot over the outer sole. This floating inner board is captured under the liner of the shoe so without mentioning it you would never know it’s there – though your feet probably will. By isolating your feet from the outer with a floating carbon plate, you retain the stiffness and power transfer from the carbon sole yet the system is said to drastically reduce foot fatigue. This is one of the reason racers seek out Lake shoes, even when not contractually obligated. The inner plate is perforated to allow excellent ventilation and the outer sole is available in 3 or 4 bolt soles for the use of Speedplay pedals without an adapter.
331 shoes are available in both MX and CX models with custom modeable carbon heel cups. The insole shown above right is an available upgrade on the 331s and comes standard with the 401 and 4012. Featuring a kangaroo leather upper, the 331s are abrasion resistant include an anti-microbial silver mesh. Road versions include a replaceable heal pad, while mountain versions have replaceable toe spikes.