02 January 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Lake MXZ301 winter shoes

During the winter many of us put away the riding gear or ride only on the warmest, sunniest days. The rest of us put on the layers and head out, albeit, a little less often. The biggest issues with winter riding are hands and feet as most of us have trouble keeping one, or both of our extremities warm. Other than warm socks, there are two main ways to keep your feet warm: shoe covers and winter shoes. Shoe covers work fairly well down to about freezing, but are a pain to put on, and tend to shred to pieces when used for mountain biking. I prefer winter shoes.

I am currently using Lake's MXZ301 winter mountain bike boots to keep my tootsies warm. Lake claim that the shoe is good down to 0˚ Farenheit [-18˚C] and with the proper socks I have no trouble believing this (though I have yet to ride in that temperature, and have no plans to do so). They were warm and comfortable from the moment I tried them on and have kept my feet comfy down to about 20˚. There is no question that they are warm.

On the style front, winter cycling boots don’t look good, regardless of their design. Personally, I like the look of straps best, but the BOA with a flap system of the Lake boots is worse yet, with a very Euro-trash-disco-nightclub appearance. For warm feet though, what choice do we really have?

The MXZ uses a BOA retention system rather than laces or straps. I don’t hate the BOA system but I am not a huge fan either. The main reason is they all seem to loosen-up while riding- this is certainly the case with the Lake MXZ301s. It exacerbates a problem that winter boots already tend to have– a loose fit. Winter shoes have more insulation and therefore don’t strap down as tight and hence they tend to float around a bit more on the foot than the equivalent summer shoe (assuming there was one). The MXZ301 are difficult to get tight initially and thanks to the BOA system quickly loosen. I find myself re-tightening the boots four or five times during a typical 2 hour ride. This annoys me but given that the boot is so much warmer than others I have tried (Gaerne, Shimano) recently, I remain committed to the Lake.

If Lake could get the boot to stay tight I wouldn’t look at any other shoe. The MXZ301 retail for $250.


[note: For 2008, the MXZ301 has been replaced with the MXZ302, selling for $270. The 302s feature a Vibram bran SPD-compatible sole and an improved BOA retention system that helps to keep the heel from moving, though the cable and retention mechanism is apparently unchanged (same replacement part). For the well-endowed amongst us, the MXZ302-X is a wider version. ]

1 comment:

Kelvin said...

Great review!! This type of high quality shoes are best for winters...