One Season Review: Lake’s CX331 Custom Fit Road Shoes

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Ah, there’s nothing quite like a new pair of shoes. Especially when they include custom moldable carbon fiber, Kangaroo leather, and a Boa retention system. Lake Shoes are making a comeback in the US with Stage Race distribution leading the charge and more dealers slowly coming on line. Around the same time that Tyler picked up a pair of the Lake MX331 mountain shoes, I had a chance to pick up a pair of their road going counterparts and mold them to my feet.

Even after quite a few miles, I’m still reaching for the Lakes before my ride. See why after the break.

Lake Shoes 2

Not to beat around the bush, I’m aware that $369 is a lot for a pair of shoes. Yes, there are even more expensive shoes but there are certainly a lot of less expensive shoes on the market. However, thanks to the incredible fit of the CX331s, you’ll forget about that chunk of change as you tick away the miles in supreme comfort.

Starting with the fit process, custom molding of the CX331s is done at home with the aid of your standard oven. The shoes are placed inside one at a time at a low temperature, removed and placed on your feet where you use your hands to squeeze in the arches and heel. More detailed instructions are included with the shoes, but the bottom line is that it is a fairly simple process that you can do yourself in less than 20 minutes. The custom fit of more involved methods will likely be slightly better, but for something you can do at home the Lake system is pretty good.

More importantly, before any custom fitting was done at all, the shoe itself had an incredible fit. Of all of the shoes I’ve ridden, the Lake CX331s have the best initial fit for me right out of the box. They ended up being a half size smaller than I normally wear, but had the perfect amount of room in the toe box. The custom fit only made them better.

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Of course, the Boa closure system doesn’t hurt either – as if offers an even tightening of the upper every time. It’s certainly easier to micro-fit your shoes with the Boa dial, with the only downside the potential need for maintenance on the system. We’ve heard of issues with the cable coatings, ratchets, etc, but there is always the Boa Guarantee where they will send out replacement parts free of charge for the lifetime of the shoe. If I have a choice between a shoe with a Boa and a shoe with velcro and a buckle, I’ll go with the Boa every time based on my experiences to this point.

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Built with a Kangaroo KLite leather and mesh upper, the CX331 proves to breathe quite well while remaining durable for the most part. The small tear in the leather shown above was thanks to an encounter with the chainring after hitting an oil slick and sliding off the road (I rode it out). Otherwise you’ll find the typical scratches, scuffs, and marks that can be seen on any of my other shoes.

The Silver mesh used throughout the shoe is abrasion resistant and anti-microbial, which is also found on the inside of the shoe to keep the stink down. The thermaformable carbon heel counter is visible at the back of the shoe.

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Lake CX 331 Road Shoe Stage Race Review255

The 100% carbon fiber sole certainly doesn’t look new anymore, but I tend to walk around on my shoes a lot to get pictures of review parts and such so they usually take a beating. CX331s are available in the traditional 3 hole or Speedplay specific drillings, each sole built with a carbon fiber sole bed that suspends the foot over the outer sole. The result is supposed to be a more comfortable ride with less road vibration transferred to your feet, and if my feet not going to sleep like some other shoes is any indication, it seems to work.

The replaceable heel pads seem to be wearing quickly, but again, I walk around a lot. Fortunately, they are easily replaceable.

Lake Shoe CX331 Weight

On the scale, a single, cleat-less CX331 weights 261g, for a 522g pair.

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There’s not much to say about the CX331s that hasn’t already been said, they’re not the lightest, but certainly not heavy. The fit is fantastic, power transfer will leave your cheaper shoes feeling like wet noodles, and after a lot of riding they’re still my go to shoe. There is little to complain about with the shoes other than maybe the price, until you consider the fit and the features. The CX331s are offered in standard, Speedplay, Wides, and women’s sizes – M 39-48:50, 39.5-46.5 ; W 36-43, 37.5-42.5.

MSRP is $369. Check them out at LakeCycling.com, and North America dealers can order through Stage Race Distribution.

Comments

Alexandre - 11/01/13 - 1:19pm

The only downside so far to Lake products IMHO is that their leather isn’t too resistant, my CX236 are all scratched up already with less than 5000KM, really dirty (but that was to be expected since they’re white uh) But I’m scared they won’t last in the long run.

me - 11/01/13 - 2:07pm

I will never buy another pair of Lakes. I had a pair of 403CX and after one season the tread started to peal off the carbon sole. Simply put, a waste of money. I was disappointed since I previously owned a pair of 301 road shoes back in the day and LOVED them.
Old Lakes = love
New Lakes = Disappointment

Rico Suave - 11/01/13 - 3:17pm

I’ve been in my first pair of Lake’s for roughly a year now and I love them, CX-236′s. I’m a Speedplay convert and nothing beats mounting the Speedplay cleat directly to a full carbon sole without any adapter needed. There is a noticeable advantage transferring power to the pedal. They are by far the best fitting and feeling cycling shoes I have owned since going clipless 16-17 years ago. 1 other plus, I’m roughly sized 12.5 which is practically unavailable in the U.S., but nicely served in Euro sizing. Alas, nothing is perfect, the single boa lacks a bit in tightening at the forefoot and I too am seeing rapid wear on the toe and heel protectors.

Brian - 11/01/13 - 10:43pm

Hi Lake, how about a Speedplay specific shoe in a wide size. Yes both wide and Speedplay. Please.

Rob - 11/02/13 - 2:12pm

Can’t help feeling sorry for the roo’s.

912R - 11/02/13 - 9:37pm

Can you comment in the review if you have wide/narrow/fat/skinny feet? Unfortunately, being someone with long, narrow, skinny feet, most shoes fit like the box they came in. Giro are the only good fit I’ve found in a looooong time.

rpdupre - 11/03/13 - 12:11pm

Have to agree with Alexandre on the aspect of they durability of the leather, it just wasn’t up to par for me. Rain/water seemed to take a tole on the leather even when dried out promptly and properly. It scratched too easily as well, I would always just plaster loads of white nail polish on top of the scratches and tears. Eventually (~1 year for me) the leather was pretty loose and wrinkly. I’m just not convinced that this leather is very suitable for a long-lasting cycling shoe. I also didn’t like how bulky they felt, compared to Shimano or fi’zi:k shoes. Other than that, they were solid shoes. I think they (to be fair, my shoes in particular, CX236) could perform just fine for many riders, depending on their own needs and conditions. I did have 2 issues with the BOA enclosure that was quickly and without charge fixed by BOA.

Stage-Race Distribution - 11/04/13 - 10:15am

Thanks for the interest and comments in Lake.
To answer a few questions for you:

1. Fit: The CX331 is a relatively moderate fit in terms of width.
We do sell this model in a Wide and also Women’s-specific as well.
You can also get the CX331 in a 4-bolt version in the standard sole width.
Comparatively to other brands, Lake will fit a bit wider than some of the Italians but perhaps a shade narrower than the widest brands – we think of it as a neutral race last.
FYI, the higher-end CX331 and CX402 models do fit just a bit narrower than the models below them, like the new CX237 and CX217, which are just a bit wider.
However, since the 331/402 shoes are heat-moldable, the need for width is also less of an issue.

2. Durability: Kangaroo leather is the most durable leather we know that exists.
Please note that the comments above about sub-par durability seem exclusively reserved for the older CX236 model, not the CX331 which uses the tougher and more expensive Roo-leather.
For those who do serious amounts of riding in the rain, I would recommend our CX300 race shoe, with its quick-dry antimicrobial upper and venting/draining design. Personally, I am convinced of the benefits of real leather in cycling shoes.

3. Old vs New: Lakes are still designed by the same design-team led by evil genius C.H. and largely produced in the same locations as always. Lake have actually improved QC immensely in the past 2 years with additional controls now in place and a full-time Italian QC supervisor on the ground. Keep in mind that these are hand-made shoes and like all racing products, there can be wear issues, but Lake and Stage-Race seek to warrant all Lake sales fully and replace any faulty shoes with brand new models.

Email us with any questions at info@stage-race.com or info@lakecycling.com for a response in 24 hours or less.

Blair - 11/06/13 - 11:59am

I have encountered problems changing the cable on my Lake CX 170 shoes. The coating came off the cable inside the housing that runs through the heel of one off my shoes (2000 miles of commuting and recreational riding). Boa was great about providing free kits to replace both shoe cables. When I started threading the cable through the shoe I wasn’t having problems with I found that the housing had separated from the eyelet at the shoe’s upper. I had to cut a seam to finish the job, now that shoe runs a little lose. The fit of Lake shoes will bring me back for my next pair but I think I’ll change the cables sooner as preventative maintenance.

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