Lake's CX401 race shoes are expensive, there’s no two ways about that, but they might just be the most comfortable you ever buy thanks to their custom fit.
When we say ‘custom fit’, we’re not talking about moulding the insole or even heating the upper with a hair dryer, as you can with shoes from some other manufacturers. No, it’s the carbon fibre sole that’s shaped to your foot – or, more precisely, the section of the sole that wraps around the sides of the shoe to form the heelbox.
The dealer will do this for you when you buy a pair of CX401s. They put the shoe in an 80°C oven for a few minutes until the carbon fibre becomes malleable. Then you dap your foot inside – don’t worry, it’s not uncomfortably hot – and they form the carbon around your heel. They can adjust things considerably so that the shoe holds your foot securely and, if necessary, the process can be repeated as many times as you like.
The uppers are made mostly from kangaroo leather which Lake reckon is the lightest, strongest and most durable leather out there. It might be – who knows? It certainly scores highly on all those counts. It’s extremely soft and supple too, and is lined with an Outlast fabric that helps shift sweat and keep your feet comfortable. There’s a fair bit of mesh on the toebox to let air in and several vents in the sole too.
Closure is handled by a Boa system over the padded tongue. You know all about Boa? Several manufacturers, including Specialized and Scott, use Boa laces on their high-end shoes, and Lake use them on a lot of their models. Essentially, it comprises a mega-strong line that’s tightened by a dial-driven ratchet.
What are the advantages? It’s light, it tightens evenly all the way up your foot, and it’s easy to adjust on the fly. We’re big fans. The only potential problem is that you can’t separately control the tightness at different areas of the closure.
Huh? Say you found the Lakes a little loose down at the bottom of the closure; you couldn’t tighten that bit without tightening the top section too. Well, that’s not completely true. You kind of can – the lace guides allow you to double the loop at a couple of points – but you don’t get as much adjustability for the different sections as you do with, say, a three-strap system. We had no problems on this front, but it’s something to be aware of when you try on any shoes like this.
That little leather tab that reaches across the front of the tongue, by the way, doesn’t help the Boa system with closure; it’s there purely to give Lake a little extra advertising space.
Out on the road, I found these as comfortable as any bike shoes I’ve ever used – and I’ve used a lot of bike shoes. Lake offer them in Euro half sizes (42-48) and in a wide fit as well as the standard version. Along with the custom fitting, this means you’re sure to get shoes that are absolutely right for your feet, and that’s half the battle.
I’ve been wearing the CX410s for short rides, long rides and everything in between and they’ve felt great throughout – no hotspots, no heel slip, no pressure points… no nothing. They’ve kept my feet cool enough however hard I’ve been going, and the soles are really stiff so power transfer through to the pedals is spot on. We’ve really got nothing negative to say about the performance. Weighing in at 644g for the pair (size 46), they’re pretty lightweight too.
You do need to bear in mind, though, that these are race shoes, not everyday shoes. You get a rubbery toe bumper and a tiny, replaceable heel strike pad, but there’s really not much protection for the shiny carbon soles when you walk. The leather panels reach around to the bottom of the outsole up front too. They don’t touch the ground when you have cleats fitted, but they’re not far off. What we’re saying is that you don’t want to be clip-clopping around in these any further than is absolutely necessary… they’re race shoes.
As well as a standard three-hole drilling, the CX410s are available with a Speedplay cleat pattern.
Very expensive – but the custom fit means these might be the most comfortable race shoes you every buy
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lake CX401
Size tested: 46
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Lake don't really give their shoes much of a description, they just list the features (see below). Essentially, these are customisable shoes for racing/Sunday best.
Upper: Klite Kangaroo leather and mesh. Outlast temperature regulating heel & tongue liner. Lateral side abrasion resistant panels.
Outsole: Custom Fit Carbon Fiber sole. Men's regular width available in a 3-hole or Speedplay specific cleat pattern for use without adapters. Replacement heel strike pad.
Closure: Side mounted Push/Pull BOA lacing system with powerzone in the forefoot.
*Special Note: Pearl Black/Red available in men's regular 3-hole & Speedplay only
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Boa closure system is excellent. If you've never used it, you might imagine it's a bit fiddly. It's isn't, it works brilliantly and we've had no trouble with durability either.
They're lightweight race shoes, not heavy-duty everyday shoes, and we've marked them accordingly. There's not a whole lot of protection for the carbon outsole.
You can find lighter if you want, but not with this level of customisable support
Very comfortable indeed for ultra-stiff performance shoes
They're definitely in the 'How much?!?' category, but they are top end shoes. Not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination, but you can have them custom fitted.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Exceptionally well. Lovely shoes. It's hard to fault the performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Top level of comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price... but I'm worth it!
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Consider, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
If money is no object, they definitely have to be on a list of top race shoes. The price is a tricky one – you can buy very good shoes at half the price. As usual, you pay a lot more for a relatively small step up in performance.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.