Monday, October 13, 2008

A shoe above the rest

Lately I have been spending much more time wearing either a cycling or running shoe; which has led me to become a little more particular of what goes on my feet.

I've worn and ridden many miles wearing what would be considered the two big names in cycling; Shimano and Sidi. Over the last couple of years I've seen more progress in design, performance and comfort from Shimano at a reasonable price. Though there are a number of improvements I would like to see with the Shimano MTB shoes on my wishlist. Sidi; well what can I say that's nice; nothing actually. Sidi has been good at raising their price; with little to no enhancements to their shoes; and for everyone that raves about the fact they provide replacement parts; you know why they supply those parts; ride a few miles in their shoes you'll find out.

About a year ago; I was asked to try and test the Lake MTB race shoe; a carbon sole; heat moldable to the rider's foot; and has the boa lacing system versus the traditional latch and velco straps on most shoes. The model in particular was the MX400; which is considered the high end of Lake's offerings; and is built for the cross country/endurance rider; who needs a light shoe with added durability. I find the boa to provide better support and prevents heal lift; giving me better performance on my rides.

My first encounter with the MX400 was less then positive; a problem with the adhesive used to attach the back heal to the carbon sole took flight on a ride; leaving me wondering if the shoe was built for the rigors of mountain biking. Lake figured it out and started to use rivets on the back heal to hold it together; and even provided me with a fix to my shoe.

During this repair time I gave the MX170 a try; what is considered a entry level model in the Lake MTB Race offering; I find to be one of the best training shoes I've worn. The sole is a hard rubber that can take high volume use on a variety of terrains. The boa itself is located on the heal; and provides good support along the ankle. I've had the shoes now for about four months and probably put around 600 miles on them; very little wear on the bottoms; and the leather holds up. I'm thinking that these may work really well as a cyclocross shoe; and will probably give them a race try; there is enough traction along with mud studs that work really well on slippery terrains. Lake lists them at 400 grams for those who are weight weenies.

This is all leading up to the anticipated release most likely in late October/early November for the new MX401 version of the shoe. For all the things good about the MX400; there was some issues with the rubber on the sole as mentioned above. All of this has been fixed along with better support on the heal and additional red zone along the inside edge of the shoe for durability. With the heat formable; fit to wear concept; along with these improvements; Lake is probably the best upgrade I can think making this offseason.

I ride with the Time ATAC pedals on both my mountain and cyclocross bike and find the shoe and pedal to be compatible with no issues snapping in or out.

For those looking for the shoe; the best local bike store to work with in the Bay Area is Bikenut; they have a good relationship with Lake and ride with the shoe on both mountain and road as well.

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