The new CX331 is a top-class mouldable shoe that offers an excellent combination of comfort and efficiency.
Despite the £250 price tag, this is actually the second tier road shoe in the Lake line-up. We tested the range-topping CX401 last year when it was £299.99. It has now gone up to £339.99. Yikes, that's hot! I have to say, though, that this CX331 is just as good as the CX401, it's just a little heavier.
The best features are the carbon-fibre outsole and heel – two separate sections that you can mould to your foot. The sole scoops around the sides of your foot from the midfoot backwards, to offer extra stability, If the side sections aren't shaped right for you, you might have rigid carbon causing you discomfort.
With me, the section of carbon on the outside of the foot, just below the buckle, was uncomfortable. So, following the instructions carefully, I put the shoes in the oven at 80°C for 4mins. They came out pliable so when I put the insoles back in and put them on, that section of the sole moved out slightly with the pressure from my foot. You leave them on for 15mins as they cool and then the fit is spot on.
If you don't get it right first time, just give it another go. Lake reckon you can remould the shoes as many times as you like. The upper part of the heel counter is mouldable too and it's a similar process. When you're done, the shoe feels secure and comfortable without any tightness.
The upper is made from kangaroo leather that's remarkably soft and supple. There are plenty of perforations to add to the breathability and extensive mesh sections too. The tongue is comfortably padded and you get an eSoles custom footbed inside (Bontrager and Nalini shoes also have this).
Closure is taken care of by a Boa system. I've used Boa on a few different shoes now and it's brilliant. The lace is a skinny steel cable and you just turn a dial to tighten it. That means it's super-easy to adjust on the fly. If your shoe feels too tight, you just pull the dial outwards and it slackens off. The Boa system is lightweight, secure and it works without any fuss. The clever bit here is that you can select how many times the lace criss-crosses your foot and so adjust the tension in the various sections.
All this adds up to a superb level of comfort. These shoes feel incredibly good on. You can get a close fit and, because the pressure is even throughout, it's perfectly comfortable. Get the moulding right and you'll experience no heel lift whatsoever, and there's no discernible stretch in the uppers if you pull up on the pedals during an out of the saddle sprint.
One of main differences between this CX331 and the CX401 is that here the sole and heel counter are separate whereas with the 401 the sole simply extends up the sides to cup your heel – it's one piece. I wondered whether this would mean less stability with the 331 but not a bit of it. I could barely tell them apart in use.
To me, the only real distinctions are that the 331s are about 100g heavier (in a size 46) and they're £90 cheaper, so the choice is yours.
The CX331 is available in men's sizes 39-48 and in both standard 3-bolt and Speedplay drillings.
Mouldable race shoes that are superbly comfortable and very efficient
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Make and model: Lake CX331 shoes
Size tested: White/Silver, Size 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 say, "The all new CX331 offers the first internal carbon fiber Thermaform heel counter. In conjunction with the side mounted BOA® Closure System the CX331 offers superior heel hold, while maintaining Lake's legendary comfort and performance.
Upper: Klite Kangaroo leather and mesh. Outlast® temperature regulating heel & tongue liner. Internal Thermaform Carbon Fiber heel counter.
Outsole: Lake Race 100% Carbon Fiber Sole with eSoles® Custom Footbeds. Available in 3 hole cleat pattern or Speedplay specific.
Closure: BOA® Push/Pull Closure system with powerzone in the forefoot.
Color: White/Red or White/Silver
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The heel and tongue are lined with Outlast fabric. Here are the details on that:
"Outlast SmartFabric Technology uses microencapsulated Phase Change Material (mPCM), which works on a microscopic level to maintain a constant skin temperature. This acts as a buffer against the extreme temperatures generated during high activity. The result is cooler or warmer depending on your body's need, drier, less sweaty, more comfortable feet."
There's not much to protect the carbon outsole but bear in mind that these are designed as race shoes rather than for everyday use. I've marked them accordingly
They're not as light as many other shoes of this price
They're incredibly comfy.
They're certainly expensive, no doubt about that, but you're getting top quality materials here: the mouldable carbon sole and heel, the kangaroo leather, the Boa closure, the eSole footbed... it's all high-end stuff and the price reflects that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They do their job beautifully.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The mouldability, the stability, the comfort...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd be hard pressed to come up with any negatives other than the price tag.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.