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The Lake CX 1 shoes are well built and can hold either two- or three-bolt cleats. Their extremely stiff nylon soles give excellent power transfer, and if you're happy fastening your shoes with laces rather than more exotic closures, these are a solid choice – in every sense of the word. Only people with very narrow feet are likely to find they don't fit; people with wide feet might just find shoe Nirvana here.
The CX 1s sit somewhere near the bottom of Lake's road shoe range, which stretches all the way up to much more expensive models like the CX 402 and down to cheaper variations like the CX 161.
The really striking thing with these shoes is the soles. Each is a substantial smooth black plate cleanly bonded to the leather. In the hands, the soles feel incredibly solid; bending and twisting a shoe produces no flex at all in any direction. The nylon slab feels utterly and reassuringly sturdy.
The first thing you'll notice about these shoes, though, is that they need lacing up – something I haven't done with a cycling shoe for years. But, as I was reminded the first time I pulled them on, shoelaces are really the original micro-adjusting closure system. As runners will tell you, it's perfectly possible to adjust laces to relieve pressure on one part of the foot while ensuring a firm grip on another part.
Once I got over the novelty of going back to laces, I found that I could get these shoes to grip my foot just fine. Of course, there's no reaching down to make small adjustments to the shoes' tightness on the move, as you can with, say, Boa fasteners. You're going to need to dismount if you want to tighten or loosen the shoe (perhaps as your foot expands in the heat).
While laces might take a few seconds longer to fasten and release compared to more modern systems, you'll soon make that time back on the bike. Because when I started to ride with these shoes I was immediately impressed with their pedalling performance. With those hefty nylon plates under my feet, it felt as though every single Watt I produced was getting through to the pedals. There was simply no hint of flexing, just a steady feeling of assured power.
With holes for mounting either three-bolt or two-bolt cleats, the shoes are suitable for a wide range of pedals. Under the toes and heels there are raised ridges of hard textured plastic for grip when walking. Although I didn't experience any problems with slipping while I wore these, I'm not sure how much use the grip under the toes will be in practice. Its positioning relative to the cleats means it will always be the cleats that make contact with the ground at the front of the shoe when you walk, rather than the gripper.
I used the shoes with Shimano SPD-SL road cleats, but even SPD cleats, which on most shoes are recessed into the sole, would stand proud of the toe-gripper on these shoes. As such, a little care might be needed on smooth surfaces.
The quality of construction seems high, and the stitching is neat and looks strong. No problems with their build emerged during the time I was riding in them. Perhaps thanks to the unyielding sole and the hefty leather uppers, the shoes aren't the lightest. A single shoe, without its cleat, came out at 383g on my kitchen scales. But on the other hand, I never noticed this weight when riding thanks to the excellent performance provided by that solid sole.
With uppers of white and coloured leather, the shoes have a stylish, classic look.
The small holes across the sides are intended for ventilation but, as I established by trying to blow and suck air through them (before getting them dirty!), they don't actually provide all that much movement thanks to the holes' tiny diameter and the fabric liner that sits behind them. Overall, the interior of the shoe feels relatively sealed-in. While that made the shoes ideal in single-digit autumn/winter temperatures, I suspect they could get slightly clammy in summer.
Lake describes these shoes as being constructed on its CX/TX Competition Last. In Lake's words, 'with a profile specifically designed for very high-cadence riding & higher pressure, our Competition last features a more curved profile than the Sport last. The main differences include increased toe pitch & heel lift, a tighter heel & a slightly wider ball girth to allow the foot to expand under high pedalling pressures.'
What this meant for me was that my ridiculously wide feet were comfortable in these shoes right from the start. With wide feet, I often have to buy shoes one size too large and thereafter put up with my feet slipping forwards and backwards. With the Lake Competition fitting, the additional width meant I didn't feel my feet were being squashed, even in my regular size.
All told, the Lake CX 1s should work for everybody except those with particularly narrow feet. If you do have really narrow feet... well, it's not like there aren't plenty of gorgeous Italian shoes that fit you and not the rest of us.
The heel cup, which feels rigid in the hands, grips the back of the foot well and I never felt my heel moving up and down when riding or walking. Not visible from the outside, the toes and the widest part of the forefoot are similarly surrounded by firm internal walls, which means you'll be protected should you accidentally kick a rock or table leg when walking around.
You might get on with laces, or you might not.
Personally, I'd be tempted to pay the extra to get Lake soles with a different fastener (and lighter weight) in the CX 301 model which has a carbon version of this sole. But that does bump the price up to £239, and you might well decide that saving £70 makes laces suddenly look more appealing.
Or, for a similar price to these CX 1s, you might instead consider Shimano's RC7 shoes – although these lack the ability to use two-bolt cleats, and don't have the effective reflective strip on the back like the Lakes do. The Giro Trans are another one to consider, and are slightly cheaper than the Lakes.
These are well-constructed shoes with an excellent sole, and compatible with most cleat systems out there. With soles this good, the only question you need to ask yourself is how you feel about the look of the uppers and the use of laces. If you like these two choices, then the Lake CX 1 shoes are a great choice for fast riding, sportives, touring, day rides or commutes – especially if your feet are on the wider side. Tourists in particular might like the way a lace can easily be replaced in the field in a way that other fasteners cannot.
• As a buying note, we're told by Lake distributor Moore Large that the carbon soled version is not a UK stock line at the moment, though some stores will have stock from the end of February. They can also be specially ordered by dealers if you'd prefer to buy locally than online; this would take a couple of weeks. To find your nearest dealer, email: sales [at] moorelarge.co.uk.
Well-built shoes with excellent, stiff soles; the main question is whether you're happy with laces
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lake CX 1 Shoes
Size tested: 44
Tell us what the product is for
This is a road shoe intended for fast riding. Lake says the shoes are built around its CX/TX Competition Last, which "features a more curved profile than the Sport last. The main differences include increased toe pitch & heel lift, a tighter heel & a slightly wider ball girth to allow the foot to expand under high pedaling pressures". But for all the talk of competition, I could equally see these shoes being ideal for commuting, sportives, or touring given they're really quite comfortable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The shoes have an extremely solid sole with the holes for mounting either two- or three-bolt cleats. The upper is perforated "Action leather" fastened with traditional laces.
The shoes felt extremely solid and well constructed. In the time I wore them, I didn't see any signs of stitching coming loose or any problems at all with the build. I've docked one point for the ventilation not working as well as it should.
I'd say 9/10 for the sole, which is wonderfully stiff for great power transfer. I'd rate the performance of the shoe as a whole slightly lower, though. The use of laces is mostly fine, but does reduce performance slightly compared to, say, Boa fasteners. It's not always easy quickly to get the shoe fully snug, and it's not possible to make adjustments on the move. I found my foot moved in the shoe slightly more than with my Boa-fastened shoes. But I should stress that this is minor, and it would only be in out-and-out racing that you might have a problem with this. The bigger issue, I felt, was the need to tuck the laces into the shoe to stop them slapping the chain.
As far as I can tell from the testing period, these look as though they're going to last a long time.
With both a regular and wide version of this shoe, Lake has got a lot of riders covered – including those of us who are usually too wide for many cycling shoes. The heel cup hugs the back of the foot nicely to stop unwanted movement.
These seem true to size. The choice of two widths provides excellent flexibility for everybody except those with very narrow feet.
They're not light but, given the performance benefits of the extremely solid soles, I'd suggest you don't worry about this as you'll be going faster in these than a lot of lighter shoes.
Generally very nice. Being leather, they'll mould to your feet over time presumably, and become even more comfortable. Insole seems fine.
This really isn't a bad price for a shoe that feels well built and which makes a noticeable difference to power transfer
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Mud washed off the soles and uppers just fine with a damp sponge, but the laces were permanently grey after the first wet ride among decaying leaf slop.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For fast, fun riding – perhaps even into some racing – these perform really well. They provided a solid, connected riding experience that made pedalling feel comfortable and efficient. They'd also be fine for commuting or sportive type riding, as they don't become uncomfortable after a couple of hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The extremely stiff soles.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't get on especially well with the laces, to be honest.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, although I'd more likely plump for a more expensive model from the same line to get this sole with different fasteners.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The sole is really nice but the laces are not without issues. They're not as convenient as more modern fasteners, but these are really efficient and well-made shoes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Synapse My best bike is: Whyte Wessex One
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: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, audax and long-distance riding
A research psychologist by day, Ian spends quite a lot of time on bikes, particularly commuting between Bristol and Bath or doing audax rides. For years he was an ultradistance runner, but this came to an end when he realised getting back onto a bicycle offered the chance to race over much more preposterous distances. In recent years he has ridden in the Transcontinental Race, the TransWales and the North Cape 4000. He has even finished first in some of these.