Lake MX331 Review (Part 1)

After 5 years of slipping and sliding around on road shoes with Look cleats, I’ve decided to switch back to mountain bike shoes. The original impetus for switching to road shoes was that I was developing hot spots on long rides, which the Look pedals and stiff road shoes solved completely.

However, I’ve found myself avoiding certain routes, particularly those that require some off roadin’ and/or hike-a-bike. Those routes are some of the best. There’s a picture of me somewhere on this blog leaping a log in a single bound in road shoes on one of my rides; what it didn’t show was me falling on my ass half a dozen times or the 10-minute process of completely removing my shoes to clean the mud out of my cleats and pedals.

So I’ve decided to switch back to mountain bike pedals. The great thing, though, is that over the last 5 years cross has increased in popularity dramatically, and now there are shoes that provide a hybrid of road stiffness and mountain bike traction.

These came in the mail yesterday:

They’re Lake MX331s. I chose these because they are made of leather. I had great success with the Rapha road shoes because my feel are oddly shaped, and the leather allowed them to, ultimately, form themselves to my feet. They are more comfortable than my regular shoes, and they still get my highest recommendation if you’re looking for a road shoe (and don’t mind looking a little silly; I still think they look like golf shoes).

The Lake MX331s are moldable, so of course the first thing I did was pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Then I put them on and formed the heel cup, which appeared to make a substantial difference in heal retention. Supposedly the arch is also heat-formable, but I didn’t have much success in changing the shape of the arch.

The great thing about these is that they are stiff as hell. I can’t get any flex whatsoever out of the sole, which is good news in terms of reducing the risk for hot spots over long rides.

Now all I need are pedals. I ordered these:

Hopefully they will arrive before my 2015 debut on Monday.


7 thoughts on “Lake MX331 Review (Part 1)

  1. Mike

    Hi John,
    I had the same issue with SPD pedals, but found that switching to a carbon soled shoe solved the issue, at least for me. The only downside was that the top line shoes of this type cost more than I would like.

  2. robertkerner

    Let us know how you like the combo. I go back and forth on the pedal-shoe front. I like the Looks for the larger platform and secure feel they provide but the road shoe cleat thing can be impractical for commuting, icy conditions (i gave myself a serious bruise last season when I put my foot down only to find out I was on ice, not snow covered pavement), and primitive road riding. On my commuter, I have Crank Bros pedals, and often switch out the Looks on my road bike if I think there’s a chance of walking or carrying the bike. The Crank Bros are easy to get in and out of, but I’d prefer a larger interface with the shoe, I think. Switching pedals and shoes is a drag, not to mention it often entails moving the saddle to account for changes in stack height.

  3. Z. Fechten

    Years ago, Lake made shoes with 3-bolt cleats and lugged walkable soles.They were discontinued some years ago. It’s good to hear there may be an acceptable replacement when mine wear out!

    1. John Ferguson Post author

      Well that’s confusing. You’d think Lake would name a shoe “CX” because it is for cross. However, apparently the CX331 is for road. My shoe is actually the MX331. Not so smart on Lake’s part or mine. 🙂

      1. Guy Washburn

        No worries! Just wanted to make sure I was looking at the right one! They sound great and are a candidate in the running for my next pair. Thanks for bringing them to our attention…

  4. exmaschine

    Kudos John. They look like they are a well made shoe. I may have to put them on my short list.
    I have been using mtb shoes and spd pedals since I first began road cycling in 2004. I never was inclined to go with the road shoe. For me, unless I was racing seriously, no need. Also, the utility of the mtb shoe far outshines the road shoe. Plus, I do ride a mountain bike now and then and I don’t have to buy two separate pairs of shoes.


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