The last few years has seen the super-lightweight shoe world hot up, with big releases from the likes of Giro and Specialized. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Lake has released the CX 301.
Before we go into how they ride, and if they’re any good, we need to know the vital stats, mainly how much they weigh and how much that lack of weight will cost you. Drum roll please…..
A size 45 weighs 192g and costs £239 for the pair.
As you can see, very light and very expensive, but compared to their main rival, the Giro Prolight Techlace, they’re around £100 cheaper and only 10g heavier for the set.
Does that make them the best super lightweight shoe? As always it’s never quite that simple, the CX 301s sure are fine cycling footwear, but come with some compromises. However, before I get to the bad, let's start with the good.
Lake CX 301 sole and fit
The CX 301’s sole is made from carbon fibre, meaning it’s plenty stiff for most riders, bar perhaps your Andre Greipels of this world. Walking around I could feel some flex around the toes, but once on the bike and pedalling, you don’t feel it.
There’s also a replaceable heel bumper on the back, which should prolong the life of the shoe. It’s a small addition, but always something I like to see on such pricey footwear.
Where the sole really impressed was with the overall contour/shape. There’s no arch support in the footbeds, but I found the generous contour of the carbon provided me with a relatively supportive fit. The toe box scoops up fairly sharply at the end of the shoe and this felt perfect for my feet when putting the power down.
I have wide(ish) feet and found the Lakes provided just enough wiggle room for my toes, making longer rides a pleasure. There were no hot spots or sore points, which I have experienced with narrower footwear, but, as ever, fit is individual to the rider so I recommend trying on before you buy.
Finally, being so svelte they just feel amazing to ride in. Compared to a stouter shoe such as a Sidi Shot, there’s a real sense of lightness to your pedal stroke. Whether or not this lightness translates in to a tangible, real world difference in speed and performance I’m not so sure, but they felt great nonetheless.
Lake CX 301 upper
So, the sole is light, stiff and has a brilliant shape/fit, unfortunately the upper isn’t quite as impressive.
In order to make the shoe so light Lake has made an incredibly thin upper and only used one BOA dial to secure your feet. This does make the shoe very comfortable, due to the pliability of said upper, but also means there’s lots of flex, especially when powering out of the saddle.
Compared to more secure footwear, such as the Bont Vaypors, the CX 301s felt far less secure during hard pedalling and my feet felt like they were almost rolling around and squirming on the sole. It wasn’t bad enough to be a deal breaker, but if you’re a powerful rider or keen sprinter the CX 301s may not provide enough support.
Having only one BOA dial didn’t help this problem. I could crank the top of my foot down securely, but there would still be some movement near my toes. Of course, you could add another BOA dial to mitigate this problem, although it would add some weight.
The lack of contour or shape on the inside of the heel cup also made the shoe feel less secure. There was only a small amount of heel lift, so it wasn’t a huge problem, but I’d still like to see a ridge or some kind of shaping to keep my heel locked in tight.
Performance with a compromise
In summary, Lake has made a high performance shoe that will work well for some, but not all. If you’re a sprinter, powerful rider or hard-core road racer, I’d struggle to recommend it. The upper is quite flexible and they’d get wrecked in a crash.
However, if you’re a weight weenie, sportive rider, hill climber, or time trialist these could be just the ticket. They're extremely light and have one of the best carbon soles I’ve ever tried.
A final thought would be for Lake to scrap the BOA dial and instead spec the CX 301s with laces. I suspect this would be as light, or lighter, than a BOA, and would allow for a more secure/supportive fit. So Lake if you reading this, PLEASE MAKE SOME WITH LACES! Thanks, Joe Norledge.