Review: Lake's Race-Ready MX 332 Shoes

May 16, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  
Lake MX 332 shoe


If you prefer classically contoured shoes and haven't found a just-right fit, Lake may be the brand you seek. Lake was founded by a couple of industry guys who believed that the connection between the rider and the pedal was both fundamental to performance and largely downplayed.

Lake understands that you can get a good shoe from a number of brands, so they staked their claim on quality construction and achieving a perfect fit. To that end, Lake are famous for offering a crazy range of half-sizes and widths, and their shoes are made on an equally wide variety of lasts (forms that mimic the shape of the foot), which are regularly updated to conform to our changing anatomies.
MX 322 Details
• Use: XC Racing/Trail
• Natural/synthetic Helcor upper, carbon-reinforced heel-cup, carbon sole
• Aggressive tacky rubber outsole
• Heat-moldable heel cup
• Rear-biased cleat slots
• Sizes: 39 to 46 in half sizes, 47, 48 & 50 (regular, wide & X-wide)
• Weight: 740g (size 42 no cleats)
• Colors: Black/silver, Blue urban (Black/yellow reviewed discontinued)
• MSRP: $429.99 USD
• Contact: Lake Cycling

Lake MX 332 shoe
The cleat slots are set back and the aggressively lugged soles offer good traction.

Lake's MX 332 is one of their most expensive off-road offerings. Its MSRP tops $400 USD and it is designated as a racing shoe. To that end, the 332 is built on a slightly narrower last than the brand's sport shoes, but that doesn't mean you'll have to cram your foot into it like technical rock climbing footwear. The MX is carefully profiled to conform to the shape of your foot from toe to heel.

"Get that right," says Lake's Liam Walsh, "and you don't need to crank down the laces to prevent your foot from moving around while you pedal. Your toes won't go to sleep on long rides and you won't get heel movement."

Getting the Fit Right

I was a good candidate, it seems, for a custom fit. Technically, I should be riding a size 42, but I've been sizing up to a 42.5 in order to keep my toes from taking a beating in the rough. Walsh did some measuring and recommended that I try a wider shoe and suggested I return to size 42. The narrower shoe, he said, moved my feet forward, away from the heel cup and crowded my toes towards the front.
Lake MX 332 shoe

The difference was readily apparent. I needed much less tension on the laces than I was used to - and I reduced it further during the review period. The MX 332 features a pair of Boa lacing systems, which look a little futuristic for my taste, but admittedly, they provide more accurate and even tension than conventional shoe laces. The bottom line, however, was that my toes didn't get beat up and my heels remained snugly in the back of the shoes. No mid-ride adjustments - check. Comfortable fit - check.

Construction Features

Lake's MX 332 uses a combination of synthetic and natural leather upper (called Helcor), sewn in an asymmetric pattern that eliminates pressure points. The toe is reinforced, so you won't feel the brunt of rock strikes, and the tongue is padded. As mentioned, Lake uses a twin BOA lacing system with a simple pop-up release. Ventilation holes throughout the upper help ward off heat, and its carbon fiber heel cup can be custom contoured by heating it at home to ensure the most direct power transfer. A removable insole affords some padding from its contoured carbon fiber sole.

There is no hiding this shoe's racing heritage - its stiff, curved sole will make you walk a bit like Donald Duck. That said, the front of the sole has a well designed "rocker" that makes walking feel much more natural that most XC racing shoes do, and well-placed lugs made from tacky rubber ensure that you can scale rocks and slippery slopes with far more dexterity than most flat shoes can muster. Also to Lake's credit, the hard carbon sole is coated with rubber that's placed to grip the pedal should you need to get a dozen pedal strokes in while unclipped. Both the front and rear traction patches are replaceable too.

Lake MX 332 shoe
The carbon reinforced heel cup can be heated and custom formed.
Lake MX 332 shoe
Push-pull BOA ratchets are simple and reliable.


Riding Impressions

Disclosure: Lake makes a roomier more trail friendly shoe called the MX 168 Enduro, but I chose the racier MX 332 because it featured an equally aggressive sole and a tough upper, with the additional benefits of lighter weight and the promise of better efficiency. "Enduro" usually means "heavier" when it comes to shoes. On that subject, my size 42.5 Specialized 2FO flat shoes weigh 900 grams, my size 42 Sidi Defenders weigh 800 grams, and the size 42 MX 332 weigh 740 grams for the pair.

Three good rides were required before Lake's MX 332 shoes relaxed and completely conformed to my feet. After that, they were (are) quite comfortable. I did not need to re-form the heel cups, as my feet fit the original shape. I did not get much heel lifting at all while pushing up steeps, and there were no pressure points or hot spots while pedaling. There is some give to the shoe while walking, and just enough spring in the reinforced sole to eliminate the dead "road bike shoe" feel that some racing-only footwear exhibit over rough terrain. In short, the MX 332s were easy to like.
Lake MX 332 shoe
Some built-in flex in the front of the sole and a curved "rocker" profile make walking easier.

If you like your cleats slammed way back, Lake's SPD-type cleat slots are set back to accommodate the contemporary mountain bike pedaling position, but fall about six millimeters shy of the rearward positions that Five Tens and my Specialized 2FO flat-soled shoes allow. I had no issues locating my cleats, and there was room to move them farther back. Some like their cleats slammed as far back as possible, so heads up.

I used my MX 332 shoes with both Shimano SPD and Time pedals and found them to be easy to engage and disengage in both dry and muddy conditions. There appears to be plenty of lateral wiggle room in the sole's channel design. Vertically, the MX 332 comes with a warning that at Crankbrothers cleats require at lease one spacer to release properly. This is typical for other shoe-makers as well. I did not need nor try shims using Time or Shimano cleats.

Of course, the big question is, "How much better do your $400 shoes pedal compared to my $150 dogs?" A little bit better is the honest answer. I can say without a doubt that there is a better feel under power and that acceleration feels sharper and more energetic than any flat-pedal shoe I've used - which is why many prefer racing-style contoured shoes. For a back-to-back comparison to a heat-molded Shimano racing shoe or a comparably priced Sidi racing model, I'd rate the Lake a notch lower in absolute comfort to the Sidi, on par with the fit of both, better than both for durability, and a couple of notches above each for walking traction and off-the bike shenanigans.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesLake's $429 MX 332 racing shoe represents a big chunk of change, not to mention that flat-soled shoes are so predominant among PB riders. Riders who prefer the more efficient feel of a profiled racing shoe, however, will be impressed by the fit and rugged construction of the 332. Consider also that Lake's array of width and size options offer hard to fit customers a sure bet - and that the MX 332 is a cut above for durability. Those who own an ill-fitting shoe museum might wish they had found Lake's MX 332s a lot sooner. RC



47 Comments

  • + 16
 Lake's sizing is frustrating as hell. I've got wide size 49 feet as was super happy to see that Lake made high end shoes in silly sizes. But while they do half sizes up to 47, they straight up miss a size between 48 and 50! So size 50's too big and size 48's too small. It's probably only a problem for me and like two other people, but I just wanted to rant a bit...
  • + 2
 Yes, and the 50 runs narrow and short. size 50 works in other brands for me, but my 303's are too small and have zero support.
  • + 16
 'push pull BOA ratchets are simple and reliable...' Nope, shoelaces are simple and reliable.
  • + 1
 BOA's break I have had 2 failures in a year on my Kestrals. The replacements parts are cheap but that doesn't help mid ride.
  • + 0
 Velcro is honestly where it's at.
  • + 13
 Required footwear for your Trust fork equipped Unno rolling on a set of Spengles.
  • + 4
 That's gonna be a no from me, dawg.
  • + 12
 Fucking hell that's a lot of money
  • + 2
 Try the Sidi Tigers for another Benjamin...
  • + 7
 My favorite is when riders wearing carbon fiber ballerina slippers have to walk on rocky sections. It is like watching a baby deer take its first steps.
  • + 5
 Can a normal guy get measured and specific advice on sizing, or is it a crapshoot like usual when buying shoes where the shop has 2 sizes to try - only it costs $450?
  • + 2
 They have, get this, a shoe sizing chart. Shows you what to measure, in millimeters, and then you add 5mm and you have your size.

lakecycling.com/pages/sizing-charts
  • + 1
 @yzedf: So in other words, "not really". You can draw your foot on a piece of paper, do some measurements, talk to nobody, and hope your $450 shoes fit.
  • + 1
 @pinhead907: I don't know what to tell ya if you can't follow directions.... Find where they sell them. Good luck finding someone to hold your hand through the scary process of finding a shoe that fits!
  • + 2
 Most lake shoes aren't this expensive.

I have wide feet and the 168 Enduro wide shoes are a gift sent from the gods.

Nice to see someone actually making a variety of shoes in wide lasts. Im sick of fake "wide/high volume" shoes. (looking at you Giro)
  • + 5
 Only $450 what a bargain. Might have to hold off on my $450 order at www.poopsenders.com
  • + 1
 Shimano me5 all the way $160 wide foot tall arch and instep fir perfect 6/12 on stiffness perfect for efficiency and hike a bike sections boa system Michelin rubber soul very grippy. Widely adjustable cleat box. Perfect for colorado riding.
  • + 1
 I'm a sucker for a well made shoe. Lived in Sidis for many years. But my favorite shoe turned out to the the Specialized _Sport_ (yes, even lower than the Comp), mtb shoe. Perfect fit, no mesh for cold damp riding, 3 indestructible velcro straps, all black, great grip, very walkable - and super cheap !!! Since going with them I've tried more expensive shoes, but have yet to find a better overall "fit". That said, those Lakes look great - almost all black and no mesh.
  • + 4
 I have Lake shoes and they are very good. Anyone with wide feet should try the wide fit versions - they work great for me.
  • + 1
 they have a ton of different models- any recommendations on the cheaper end?
  • + 2
 @xeren: Check out the lake website. I have a pair of their cheaper XC shoes (MX161) and they are still going strong after 5 years. I paid £70 in UK so should be $100 in USA with no duty to pay

lakecycling.com/collections/mtb/Wide?page=2

reviews here: www.saltdogcycling.com/lake-mx161-wide-fit-mountain-bike-shoes
  • + 1
 @Prof: awesome, thanks, i'll check them out!
  • + 2
 Nice to see someone offering extra wides but it's too damn rich for my blood. Just going to have to keep wearing 12s even though length wise my shoe size is closer to 10.
  • + 2
 They do plenty of cheaper shoes as well, I've not tried the extra wide fit ones, but the wide fit seemed wider than anything else on the market already.
  • + 1
 Shimano does a wide shoe and I they have been more than happy with the fit
  • + 1
 Check the Lake website...they do sales and clearance deals every once in awhile.
  • + 3
 This is what happens when you don’t buy your own gear.
  • + 1
 I used to ride shoes like this. Five-Tens are so much better for everything I ride. Shoes like this are just a great way to get $$$ from people moving from road to MTB
  • + 1
 turning into hockey skates ? baking etc or has this been around for a while ?
  • + 1
 Shimano did it 9(?) years ago.
  • + 1
 At 740 grams, that's 3 Big Macs. One Big Mac per foot, what are you going to do with the extra one??
  • - 1
 FRAPPE-ING IT WITH MY MAGIC BULLET AND USING IT AS CHAMOIS CREAM OOH LA LA!
  • + 1
 I thought I was the only one left on the planet riding Time pedals. Now I am 1 of 2.
  • + 1
 Whatever, just wait for a review of a modern Time pedal and then all the beardie weirdies (looking at you) come flocking out about how they're still riding the same pair of ATACs that they bought 15/20/25 years ago.... Constant parade of 'oh my pedals are older than yours"ism.
  • + 1
 @nouseforaname: It's not that at all. I had a hard time finding cleats and picked up a couple sets last year. Once my pedals finally die I'll be riding Shimano like everyone else in my riding group. It makes swapping bikes so much easier. I just can't bring myself to toss or sell pedals that still work. They were definitely the best back when Shimano couldn't clear AB mud/clay, but now that I'm on the West coast everything is nice and loamy, no need for the mud capabilities.
  • + 1
 @bikelust: Time pedals never die. You'll be the "one guy" forever now! Ahahahahamuahaha koff koff. #forallTime #trapped
  • + 1
 Shoes for mountain bikers that mountain bike in the mountains. May fit the yeti too.
  • + 1
 I ride Lake SPD sandals for my commute. You know I have super self-confidence to admit to that on PinkBike.
  • + 3
 Downcountry AF
  • + 1
 I'd gladly spend that money to not have to properly tighten laces, or something... I guess.
  • + 1
 Yes. Very ugly. But so are christian lamboutin shoes.
  • + 1
 Nice shoe, but they missed the mark on pricing.
  • + 1
 Lugs are too heavy for as wear and shear prone as they are.
  • + 1
 No thanks!
  • - 3
 I THOUGHT LAKE WAS LL BEAN LEVEL WHEN I FIRST SAW EM SO THEYRE STUCK THERE FOREVER
  • + 2
 Cool caps, bro.
  • - 2
 @COnovicerider: THXBRO!!!1!! KEEP AT IT AND INCREASE YOUR SKILLZ TO INTERMEDIATE AND U 2 CAN PETITION THE BOARD FOR A TRIAL RUN AT ROLLING WITH THE MAJASCULAR MOBB ALL I WILL SAY IS KEEP AT IT NEVER GIVE UP AND CONSIDER MOVING TO SOMEWHERE WITH DIRT

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