Well, my old Specialized BG Comp shoes have finally bitten the dust in recent weeks. A couple weeks ago, I noticed the sole delaminating from the uppers of these shoes. Considering the stresses put on bike shoes that clip into the pedals, I’m not even going to try gluing them back together. I’ve tried gluing shoes back together over the years, and it may work fine for small spots, but most definitely not for delaminations as severe as what my old Speshy shoes are experiencing.
My local shop had a pretty poor selection of Bontrager, Pearl Izumi, and Answer mountain bike shoes, to be honest. The only ones that fit were some Answers (the same model that I used as my entry-level shoes 10yrs ago) and I just wasn’t exactly happy with the tread and the way they felt as I walked.
You see, I do a fair bit of hike-a-bike on some of my rides, like this one from a few weeks ago. I’d really like some shoes that can handle the difficulty of this stuff. I think this ride is actually what did my Speshy shoes in.
Here are the old and new shoes side-by-side.
You can see that the major difference in the uppers is that the Lakes have 3 straps compared to 2 on the Specialized shoes. The Lakes also include laces. The Speshy shoes have lacing holes, but didn’t actually come with laces. The biggest difference is in the soles.
First and foremost, the Lakes have Vibram soles. I’ve read many reviews of folks saying they like the soles on these. These are NOT race shoes. They’ve got some heft to them, which is partly why they’re perfect for what I want. They’re definitely heavier than the Specialized shoes.
You can see on the Specialized shoes that I had to cut away some rubber to make room for my Crank Bros Candy SL pedals. I hacked at these things variously over the past several years and still didn’t manage to get them trimmed the way they need. Clipping in has always been tough for me on this shoe/pedal combination. I do happen to like the aluminum toe studs. I know some riders don’t like them, but when I need to dig in for a steep climb pushing my bike up, they make a huge difference.
You can see right off that the soles on the Lakes are much more substantial. A couple things worth noting here: The soles of these are every bit as stiff as the Specialized shoes (possibly even stiffer), but the SHAPE of the sole really provides a natural walking motion. Your heel sits level to your toes on these as you walk…unlike the Specialized shoes, which elevate your toes slightly and make it hard to walk. I used one spacer underneath the cleats (like I did with the Specialized shoes), but the tread of the shoes does not interfere at all with the pedals. For the first time in 5yrs, I don’t have to fiddle with the pedals to clip in! I do think I still need to tweak the cleat locations to their optimal spots. As installed, they might be a shade farther back than I like.
You’ll also notice that the toe cleats on the Lakes are spaced a bit more widely apart. It’s interesting to compare the difference. Since I haven’t taken them out on trails yet, I’m not terribly sure how much of a difference it’s going to make, but it’s at least worth noting the difference.
Finally, the autopsy report for my Specialized shoes. Severe delamination of the soles. The left shoe was the worst, and the toe area more than everywhere else. It hadn’t begun to severely impact my riding (yet), but I’ve been riding my local trails for the past couple weeks, and they’re not that tough. No real hike-a-bike stuff there. The heels were also delaminating on both shoes. You can see here on the left shoe that the ball of the foot was close to delaminating, and you can see the plate the cleat screws into. If the delamination had expanded past this spot, the shoes would be totally unusable.
I think the proper sendoff for these will be in the trash can. It’s somewhat unfortunate because the uppers are still in pretty good shape.
My final note on the differences between these shoes will be on fit. The Specialized shoes always pinched me a little just in front of the heel on the outside edge of the shoes. It seems that they would do it most when I wore a slightly thicker sock (I have some athletic Smartwool socks that really illustrate the problem). As such, these shoes were tough to wear for a long day.
The Lakes don’t pinch me anywhere or rub anywhere in an odd fashion. There’s no heel slip or anything like that. I will say that my left foot is a shade longer and narrower than my right. The right is shorter and wider by a hair. These shoes are perfect on my left foot, but a little snug in the width on my right foot. I’ve tried wide shoes before, and they’re always too wide for me. It seems my right foot is just wide enough to be a little tight in regular width, but not wide enough to fit a wide width shoe. While the shoe is snug in the width, it fits absolutely perfectly in length. I’d say these shoes are pretty true to size. I could probably use a hair more volume in the shoe, but there’s enough adjustment with the laces and straps that they still fit that way, too.
My biggest compliment for the Lake MX 165 shoes is how easy they are to walk in with a sole as stiff as they are. I’d say if you just love to ride a mountain bike and you’re the type of rider that goes places where you might have extended hike-a-bikes, these would be your shoes. They’re not for racers…they’re too heavy for serious racers. A rider who might do a couple races a year just for fun could still use them just fine, though. These are the perfect sort of shoes for the kind of riding that I do.