With a chance of snow in the forcast, I hope this is the last weekend for a long time that I get a chance to wear my new winter mtb shoes. Last Sunday’s ride to Paris was my first real test for the new winter bike shoes I bought last week. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the heel tore out of my old pair of Lake mtb shoes. With winter still skitching a free ride right now and the spring classic series in full swing, I decided to pop for a new pair of kicks. I opted for the Lake MXZ 302 from Ben’s Cycle. I needed a size 45 (one size bigger than my warm weather bike shoes), but the boa lacing system was broken on the only pair they had. Luckily Earl was able to repair it using the teeny tiny torx driver included with the boots. I didn’t mind that one of the boots had a broken clasp, rather I liked the fact that they were repairable. Old school was you went to Walgreens to get a new pair of shoe laces. I guess we are too high tech for that now, and you need a special tool to replace the laces on bike shoes. Luddites are rolling their eyes a the technological attempt to fix what ain’t broken, but who am I to stand in the way of progress? Despite the fancy laces, they seemed to be much better made than the original version I had, which were steadfast through 6 years of hard winter riding. At a bit over $200 beans for the pair, these new boots better last me a while.
After Earl fixed the crank on the boa lacing system, I tried them on and they fit well. To put them on, you open two velcro cover flaps, loosen the boa lacing by pulling on the knob, slip them on, push the knob in and turn it clockwise to snug up the laces, then close the two velcro covers. The boa lacing system works really well. Turn the knob to tighten the fit, pull the knob out to loosen the fit. This can all be done while riding without unclipping (assuming your not riding fixed, save that trick for crash testing helmets).
Even before I got on the bike, my first impressions were that the Lakes were comfy and felt warm almost immediately. The construction seems very solid. I really like the thickly lugged Vibram soles. Most mtb shoes have hard plastic soles that are slippery on smooth floors and ice. The soft rubber Vibram soles on the Lakes had ample traction on linoleum, even when wet. In the dirt they were awesome. The insoles of the Lake boots are made of some funky honeycomb reflective material. It appears to be an attempt at further insulation. I can’t say they work any better than regular Dr. Sholes, but I can say I did not feel the cold creep up into the boots from the soles.
In fact, my feet were toasty warm the entire ride 77 mile ride to Paris and back, despite sub-freezing temperatures, a head wind the way back, and being outside for 5 hours. I still need to test the boots in the wet. I did Nikwax them as the lowers are made from Pittards leather, but we were cursed with sunshine the entire ride. I will just have to wait for some real Belgian weather and schedule a truly classic OTB Spring Classic.