Lake shoes may not be a name that’s known to all and sundry of the cycling world and they might not have the heritage of Sidi, but Lake are up there in the technical stakes when choosing a new pair of cycling shoes. With their new range Lake are sure to change that and at the top of the range is the CX401. These shoes have been out a few years, they had a slight tweak in design last year and for the past 3 months I’ve been parading around in a lovely pair of the Lake CX401, so what are they like?

Riders including Carlos Sastre and Tyler Farrar have put the shoes through their paces.  So we’ve got a top class stage racer and a top class sprinter using the shoes, what can us mere mortals expect from the Lakes?

Out of the box you notice that they’re a pretty light weight shoe, then next up you notice the amount of carbon that you can play with and for a guy who’s used to using Sidi shoes, how empty and clean they are from the splashes and flashes of colour you get with other cycling footwear.

This is not a bad thing at all, in fact it makes the technology and “trick bits” stand out without screaming. They have that fine handmade look about them, like a nice suit.

These shoes are all about the technology. Lake seem to have come from the opinion that it’s function over form and seeing as your shoes are one of the main contact points between you and your bike this really is a wise move.

Kangaroo Leather, a BOA closure system, outlast lining and a custom carbon moldable sole are all put in the mix to make this shoe a top riders’ choice.

Get your oven turned on, get your shoes out of the box and you’re half way to having that custom fit shoe feeling. With the Lake’s CFC (custom fit carbon fibre) sole you have the choice to mould the shoe around your foot. It’s not a massively difficult procedure either, just make sure you get the oven temperature right. You don’t want to be scraping carbon off your baking tray do you…

After a few minutes in the oven it’s a case of pressing the carbon in to the right position. It can take maybe a few attempts to get this right but as Lake state on the website it’s not a problem to keep repeating this procedure. Once you have the shoe molded correctly it feels as though it’s hugging your feet, secure and comfortable. They seem to grip the heel well and there is no slippage in this area.

These shoes were the first I’ve used that have utilised the BOA closure system. In essence it’s just a neat little dial that pulls a laced wire around the shoe.

In the little book you get it says that due to the carbon custom fit and the BOA system you may not need to tighten the shoes up as much as other shoes, this I was dubious about but once on the bike I found this to be true. I’m currently using this in what should be a hot climate – Australia. But the weather’s been a bit up and down so they’ve seen red hot days and bloody wet and cold ones too. On the hot days the lack of having to tighten them up is very noticeable, not having any pressure points on a hot day certainly helps make those all day rides nice and comfy. When I say comfortable, I simply mean as comfy as you can get when tackling the hills around the Dandenongs.

To add to the comfort factor you get the choice to either have a very thin base insole or again a form fitting insole. Lake say that the thicker insole eventually takes the shape of your foot. I’ve used the shoes with and without the thicker sole and prefer them with the sole.

The leather used is Kangaroo (I’ll say that quietly, don’t want to alarm any locals). This is the first time I’ve worn a pair of shoes using Kangaroo leather and it looks a little more fragile and not as glossy as the Lorica that some cycling shoes are made of, but as I’ve said it’s function over form. So far very little scuffing has appeared, it seems to be a hard wearing material and extremely soft to. Very pliable and form fitting, it fits with the whole ethos of the shoe.

The shoe comes in both three bolt fitting and a special Speedplay fitting. So compatibility shouldn’t be problem. The scuff guards are a nice feature too. The heal rubber is there to stop you slipping all over the place in your local cafe, this is replaceable and matches up nicely with the side and nose scuff guards. The outlast lining on the tongue and  inner lining is there for keeping your feet cool. I didn’t notice it, so I’m guessing this is a good thing. It must be doing its job quietly.

All in all these are a top flight shoe. Maybe not as bling looking as Sidis but they excel in the comfort factor. The custom moulding process is easy but comes at a pretty high price. Though Lake make some nice lower end shoes with pretty much the same technology, BOA closure , outlast lining, K-lite leather but without the custom mouldable carbon.

The feel of the shoe once moulded to your foot can take a few rides to get use to, as it seems to be wrapping around your foot. As opposed to your feet sitting on the shoes.

I noticed it most in the arch of my foot. It feels different but in a good way to other non-moldable shoes. You can feel it supporting your foot but without undue amounts of pressure.

The upper is soft, and again secure. And I’m sold on the BOA system. Easy to tighten on the fly when needed and you have a great degree of minute adjustment with it too.

If you’re after a top end shoe and want something a little different there well worth a look. I’m real happy with mine, I can see why Mr Farrar and Mr Sastre have decided to keep using them.

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