Lake MX 331 in Dutch orange: These shoes will also likely be available in black with accents.
Sometimes a product idea jumps out and grabs your attention. Call that the case with Lake's soon-to-be-released MX331 Cross, a shoe designed specifically for racing cyclocross.
This kangaroo leather bog hopper, which was on display at last month's Sea Otter Classic, is built around the company's MX mountain bike shoe line, but has shed weight thanks to a reduction in the amount of rubber on the sole. The only permanent rubber is around the cleat area. Beyond that, it's up to you.
That's the innovation here. The MX331 Cross is a completely modular shoe equipped with eight spike screw-in holes - four up front, two in the mid-sole and two more at the heel. Depending on course conditions and personal preference, you can choose anything from full-on baseball-style cleats, to traditional cycling spikes, to more standard rubber sole screw-ins.
Now think about the various conditions one might see during the span of a cyclocross season. Freezing cold with icy patches - go will the metal spikes. Mud bog? Use a mix of rubber and standard spikes. Fast and dry - rubber only. Or if traction isn't necessary, you could ditch the screw-ins all together and rely soley on the traction provide by the rubber around the cleat. That's probably a few-and-far-between instance, but it's interesting to contemplate.
If traction is an issue, you can swap on these baseball-style cleats.
Other features of the new shoe include a 100-percent carbon fiber sole that's heat moldable for a customized fit. There is also a BOA push-pull lacing system, and soft kangaroo leather and mesh upper.
"People have asked if we reduced the stiffness of the sole to accommodate running," said Michael Yakubowicz, who runs Stage Race, the company that's importing Lake shoes from the Netherlands to North America. "Well our athletes told us if the shoe has the right ramping and sole shape, there was no need to reduce stiffness. They said they wanted that stiffness for on-the-bike use since they are only running for 5-10 steps at a time and then getting back on the bike. So Lake made a shoe with an aggressive sole shape that ramps up off the front end to provide a nice push-off point for running without diminishing stiffness for power transfer."
The new Lake MX332 will come in two widths, plus a women's specific model. Colors options include the Dutch orange that's pictured here, and another yet-to-be-determined color, which Yakubowicz said will likely be black with accents. MSRP is approximately $369, and availability is scheduled for late July or early August.
"One other thing we like to point out is that this shoe uses the same last and sole shape as our mountain and road models," added Yakubowicz. "So it's possible to go from one discipline to another using an identical fitting shoe with the same heat moldability of the sole, but each sole is specific to that particular discipline."
RoadBikeReview has a test pair on order for fall's cross season. We'll report back with our findings asap.