Lake bills its MX176 as a shoe designed for all-day comfort that will work equally well for cycle couriers and off-road adventurers.
It combines a deep-tread rubber outsole with a synthetic upper that incorporates mesh side panels for ventilation, and there’s a PU (polyurethane) finish to resist water.
The fastening is a single Boa plus toe-strap pairing and it has a larger toe box construction than most, which not only makes it suited to wider feet but provides expansion room on long, hot days.
When determining my fit for a test shoe, Lake asked me for my foot length and width. Without this I’d have gone for my standard 46 but as it turned out, I measure up as a 47 for Lake, so if you’re ordering online check the chart and follow the instructions.
The result was the best-fitting shoe I tested – snug enough to feel secure without over-tightening and enough wiggle room for comfort.
I usually upgrade shoes with my own custom insole, but the one that the MX176 comes with gives good support, and if you do find yourself wanting more you can upgrade with Lake’s own custom footbed or underfoot winter option.
Perhaps because the fit was so good for me personally, I found that the Boa and toe-strap pairing didn’t need overworking to arrive at a balance that held my feet secure enough for efficient pedalling while being easy enough for walking without my heels slipping.
Even though these feel like they have a stiff sole when you’re handling them, their secure fit makes them comfortable for walking in. The mountain bike-inspired rubber outsole has plenty of grip and stability too.
On the bike, while it’s not a road racing shoe, there’s no power compromise for all that comfort – and this is a shoe that will happily support you on long days out.
The downside? It’s not the lightest, but for me, comfort is all, and on long rides, social rides and over mixed terrain, I’d put that way above a few extra grams. The Lake MX176 is a shoe that both feels great and rides hard.
How we tested
The best gravel bike shoes need to balance stiffness and efficient power transfer, comfort for longer rides and walkability for rugged terrain or off-the-bike use.
Throw into the mix the special individuality of fit and it is easy to see why there is unlikely to be one perfect solution so the best place, as with everything bike, is to start by considering your own skills, fitness and preferred riding in order to understand whether you might want to trade off some walking ease for stiffness or if comfort is everything.
So, to help you choose what’s best for you, we’ve mixed up country lanes with dirt tracks, bridleways and forest roads on day-long routes. Nothing too extreme technically but all calling for dismounts to push up steep climbs, open gates and to hit the coffee queue.
Also on test:
- Bontrager GR2
- Fizik Terra X5
- Giro Sector
- Mavic Allroad Pro
- Northwave Rockster
- Rapha Explore
- Scott MTB Comp Mid
- Shimano XC501
- Specialized Recon 3.0