We’ve been following this shoe’s footsteps for a while now, we saw pictures of the prototype earlier on in the year and then at Eurobike we got to fondle a pair and a man told us stuff about them, and now we actually have a pair in our hands, er, on our feet. Excited.
Lake are keen to tout the MX331CX as the first cyclo-cross specific shoe, but riders of a certain age will remember that there were a couple of CX shoes (from Sidi and Duegi if our fuzzy memories are correct) on the market way back when all this was playing fields, shoes that were adopted by a lot of mountainbikers in the days when you couldn’t get a performance MTB shoe, now the tables are turned and instead of using an MTB boot cyclo-cross riders have their own dedicated race shoe. So let’s say this is probably the first clipless pedal CX specific shoe. But it’s not on it’s own now as Northwave, for one, have the Hammer CX shoe specifically targeted for an hour on a Sunday.
The fun news with the MX331CX is the modular stud system in the sole. Most ‘cross courses feature a bit of running with your bike and the Lakes exclusively cater for this with a series of six replaceable studs in the sole that you can change according to the course conditions, much like you might change your tyres. Add studs for grip or remove them if there are no shouldering sections, the aggressive metal blades that come already installed in the toe look perfect for scuttles up steep grassy banks.
This is no mountainbike shoe with fat lumps of tread decorating the sole for pushing a bike up hills and clambering over rocks, it’s more like a road shoe with studs, it’s designed for racing, cyclo-cross. Aside from the replaceable studs grip on the sole is pretty minimal because you don’t need it, and it keeps the weight down. There are long and tall slugs of tread either side of the replaceable cleat area, which is large and open to alleviate any mud clogging issues and there’s a small toothed tongue at the rear of the cleat box to offer a bit of grip should you fluff a clip-in. And protect the sole a little bit.
The sole itself is Lake’s CFC Race Last which is specifically shaped so there’s optimal foot to pedal power transfer and with a 100% carbon fibre sole it’s designed to be as stiff as possible. Cyclo-cross races only last an hour so day-long comfort isn’t an issue, and a flexy sole for walking in isn’t a requirement, hard, efficient and fast is. If you use your cyclo-cross bike for noodling along disused railway lines stopping for cake at an owl sanctuary then you’re probably best looking elsewhere for your booties.
As well as being stiff the carbon sole is also mouldable, which is the hot thing in shoes these days. Pop the Lake MX331CX’s in the oven for 5 minutes and both the instep and heel cup are warm and soft enough for fifteen minutes to be malleable to your foot for a custom fit. You can do this procedure yourself or with the help of a second pair of hands for a more accurate fit whilst you’re on a bike. Your local Lake shoes dealer should be able to help with this.
The upper is the same as the Lake MX331 mountainbike shoe, a tough yet supple kangaroo leather with heavy and not-too-airy mesh inserts, with an Outlast temperature regulating heel and tongue liner to keep things warm, or cool. It’s clever like that. Retention is via one large BOA dial on the side of the foot, Lake have been using the system for a decade so it’s well proven. It should be easy to use with wet, cold and muddy fingers too, and the cable criss-crosses over a well-padded tongue.
The Lake MX331CX is an aggressive, single-minded shoe for cyclo-cross racing in and at £269.99 you’re definitely going to be wearing your aggression and single-mindedness on your sock. That and they’re very very orange, so everyone will instantly know just how serious you are. They weigh 688g for a pair in a dainty size 41 and these are just going in the oven at a low heat for a bit to be ready for the weekend.
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.