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Lake's CX238 shoes are stiff soled and comfortable, and dual Boa IP1-S dials allow you to micro-adjust the tension in both directions, even through overshoes.
Liam was hugely impressed by the MX237 Super Cross cyclo-cross shoes when he reviewed them nearly four years ago (four years? Liam's still only about 12 now). The Lake CX237 was the road equivalent, but it has since been updated with a push/pull IP1-S BOA lacing system – and various other changes – to become the CX238 that I've been using. Are you keeping up with this? The point I'm making is that these shoes have pedigree.
As you'd expect of a road shoe at this price, the CX238 has a carbon fibre outsole with fixings for three-hole cleats. You get a couple of vents down there plus toe and heel pads (the heel pad is replaceable) that provide some protection for the carbon and help keep you upright on your way to and from the bike (carbon and wet pavement don't get along). The sole doesn't flex at all in use; it feels absolutely solid.
The upper is made mostly from what Lake calls 'Fullgrain Water Resistant Premium Leather'. It's not as thin and supple as the kangaroo leather used for the top-end Lake CX403 shoes that I reviewed recently, but it conforms to the shape of your foot comfortably and I've not noticed any particular stretching over the test period.
Large areas of the upper and tongue feature small triangular perforations that provide ventilation, while mesh panels allow air to flow in and out freely. Lake uses Outlast linings for the heel and tongue, designed to absorb heat. If you tend to get hot feet while cycling in high temperatures, these aren't the coolest shoes out there, but they're reasonable in that respect.
The leather is pretty tough. I've been wearing these shoes on most rides for several weeks and there are just a few marks on the uppers that show they've been used, but nothing that you'd call damage.
A rubber toe cap means you won't scuff up the leather if your shoe rubs the front tyre, while at the back you get a heel guard that's made from Helcor. This is split leather (lower layer bovine skin) that's given a thin (less than 0.15mm, according to the manufacturer) and breathable polyurethane surface layer. This is durable stuff that doesn't easily scratch. I've just given these test shoes a wipe down and the Helcor panels look as good as new. All the little gravel marks that were there a few minutes ago have disappeared.
When Liam reviewed the MX237 Super Cross shoes his only real negative criticism was that the Boa L5 dials weren't dual directional. In other words, you could tighten them one click at a time, but you had to release the tension all in one go. These CX238 shoes use Boa IP1S dials which put that right (the MX238 that has replaced the MX237 features the same system).
The dials – you get two per shoe – allow you to adjust the tension 1mm at a time in both directions and, as usual, you can pull them upwards to quick-release the laces. It's a system that works really, really well. Twisting the dials through thick neoprene overshoes isn't a problem, and they're easy to replace if they ever get damaged. IP1-S dials aren't as low profile as Boa's new Li2 dials, but it's hard to fault them in terms of functionality.
A small amount of padding to the tongue and around the opening keeps everything comfortable, while 'cat's tongue' fabric at the heel helps hold your foot in place.
I've found the Lake CX238 shoes to be quite roomy, especially compared with the CX403s that I reviewed. The heel is a medium fit – close but not tight on me – and I had plenty of space at the front to wiggle my toes. I certainly didn't feel that my foot was being hemmed in when pushing hard on the pedals.
If you need more space, the Lake CX238 is also available in a wide fit – called the Lake CX238 Wide, so it's easy to remember. Incidentally, if you're not sure which size/width you should go for, Lake provides simple instructions for finding out at home. I used this to get the sizing right on both pairs that I've been using.
Although £250 is a fair old wedge of cash to drop on a pair of cycling shoes, it's about what you'd expect for something of this quality. Le Col's Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes are the same price, Rapha's Pro Team shoes are £260 and the Bontrager XXX Road Shoes that we reviewed earlier in the year are considerably more expensive at £299.99.
The Lake CX238 shoes put in a top-level performance. They're not especially light compared with some, but there's zero flex in the sole, the uppers combine toughness with comfort, and the Boa dials are excellent.
Stiff-soled road shoes that offer comfort, toughness and great adjustability – available for those with wider feet too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lake CX238 Carbon Road Shoe
Size tested: 46
Tell us what the product is for
These are road cycling shoes moulded for three-hole cleats.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lake lists these features:
CX/TX Competition Last
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.
Lake Competition 100% Carbon Fibre Sole. Available in 3 hole cleat pattern
Fullgrain water resistant premium leather and mesh with hook lycra & Outlast heel lining. Helcor heel panel and rubber toe bumper helps protect the upper from scuffs and scratched. Outlast temperature regulating heel and tongue lining offers a luxurious foot feel, while maintaining a breathable, durable & firm grip to your foot.
Dual Side mounted Push/Pull IP1-S BOA lacing system with releasable lace guides
Carbon fibre soles are always prone to scratching but these have good heel and toe protectors. The leather upper is robust and the Helcor heel guard is really tough.
If you wreck your shoes in an accident, Lake offers a crash replacement policy. You can get 50% off a new pair in the first year, and 25% off a new pair in the second year.
The toe box is roomy. If you need more space, Lake offers this shoe in a wide fit.
If you're buying online, follow Lake's online instructions for measuring your feet and get the size that corresponds. This takes any guesswork out of it.
You can certainly buy lighter shoes.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
You should use leather-specific products on the uppers from time to time – especially after wet rides – to restore oils/moisture. After most rides, though, a quick wipe with a damp cloth will get off any mud or spray.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great all-round performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stiff soles and ability to micro-adjust Boa dials in both directions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They could be lighter and some people might want more mesh panels for use in higher temperatures.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I'd say that you're paying about the going rate for shoes of this quality – you might even expect to pay a little more.
Le Col's Pro Carbon Cycling Shoes are the same price, Rapha's Pro Team shoes are £260 and the Bontrager XXX Road Shoes that we reviewed earlier in the year are considerably more expensive at £299.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A really good performance at a decent price equals an 8.
About the tester
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: 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.