Lake Cycling has long embraced Boa technology in its line of cycling footwear. With no less than four road models featuring a single Boa-dial closure system, the company is a leading contender in the less-is-more category of shoe closures. The CX331 is a brand-new shoe for 2012, and, with a price of $360, it’s the second-most-expensive model behind their venerable CX401, which retails for $489.
Available in either red/white or silver/white color combinations, the CX331’s upper is crafted almost entirely in leather, but not of the bovine variety. Lake opted, instead, for kangaroo leather on the brand’s two most expensive models; it’s more supple and durable than cowhide and is commonly found on high-end soccer shoes, a sport where proper footwear fit and feel are paramount to performance. Unlike some shoes that use two Boa dials, the Lakes, instead, opt for a single dial, with the accompanying cable system zig-zagging across the top of the foot. Mesh panels wrap over the toes and along the sides for ventilation, and perforated holes and a few reflective details complete the mostly subdued looks of the CX331. Exposed carbon fiber panels on either side of the heel cup are anything but subdued, however, and they project the illusion that the sole and heel cup are a one-piece design. In fact, the heel cup is relatively soft, as well as heat-moldable for a more custom fit. General consensus is that high-end cycling shoes require a stiff carbon outsole for maximum performance, and if that’s the case, then the glossy CX331 looks ready for some serious business. “Barely there” walking treads sit at the toe and heel, the latter of which is replaceable. Lake’s designers have gifted the CX331 with a custom insole from eSoles, which alone retails for $50.
As it is with saddles and helmets, proper fit is key when it comes to footwear. The CX331 delivers in this department thanks to a customizable heel cup, which can be warmed in your home oven (200 degrees for 3–4 minutes) and molded to fit the rear half of your foot. Likewise, the CX331 last is rather wide and, combined with the supple kangaroo leather and Boa laces, will provide a comfortable fit for most riders. The single Boa dial is easy to use by simply turning it clockwise to tighten the laces. The dial must be popped up away from the shoe in order to loosen the laces, which is a nice feature that prevents accidental loosening while on thebike. Ventilation at the toe is more than adequate, thanks to the large mesh panel up front, but a little more airflow at the mid-foot and heel area wouldn’t hurt during those mid-summer rides. There’s a reason that Lake shoes are popular among track cyclists and sprinters: they’re incredibly stiff and capable of transmitting some serious power. And while that’s great for the fast guys and gals out there, the CX331 may be a bit too stiff for casual riders who would benefit from a bit more flex to keep their feet comfy on longer rides.
Also, the tiny heel tread does little in the way of providing standing support, so those inclined to spending time off the bike during the weekend coffee stop may need a shoe that is easier to walk in.
Although the stiffness makes the CX331 appealing to experienced or powerful riders, it may feel harsh for casual riders. We were impressed with how quickly the kangaroo leather broke in and how it offered that long-term comfort within just a few rides. At 580 grams for the pair, the CX331 qualifies as a true middleweight shoe. If you have higher-end aspirations, Lake’s $489 CX401 has all of
the same features as the CX331, plus an additional mid-foot strap and abrasion-resistant panels on the sides for added durability. For most riders, the CX331 is a better value, however, coming in at $130 less.
• Quality leather provides quality fit
• Stiff sole is a top choice for race day
• Also available in women’s sizes and a
Weight: 580 grams (size 41)
Sizes: 39–48, 50; 39.5–46.5; women’s 36–43, 37.5 –42.5
For more info: Lake Cycling