Cold perception is a very personal. It truly comes down to many factors, like how good is your body temperature working, is there enough blood-flow available, how intensely are doing your winter cycling. I had been on a long search for an adequate off-road sturdy cycling winter shoes. The issue I have to deal with are: lacking proper blood circulation, constant cold extremities, and low blood pressure. So, after I while, say after one hour ride, there was no shoe for me out there that could cover my needs. Lake MXZ 303 was a teasing proposal as its build really massively so I assumed it will serve for my purpose greatly.
Remains to point out, that Lake builds cycling shoes for ages now, and they have led the way of the winter riding boots concept. Its predecessor the MXZ 302 highlighted remarkable features but the MXZ 303 upped the ante even more with details like warm, flexible, high top, off-road riding boot that comes into its element as soon as all shoe-covers and make-shift remedies fail. Certainly, appropriately chosen materials are critical for keeping your feet warm in freezing temperatures. But how flexible is the shoe at the same time?
The MXZ 303’s upper is Pittards full-grain leather, which is not only extremely durable, but it becomes flexible for a perfect fit as well. It took me just few days when I realized the how quickly the shoe broke in for a snug fit. A proper walking is given by Vibram material of the outsole: a high-grip rubber compound for walking through snow and mud, which I had experienced trough some cyclocross races.
During training rides, Lake employed the Outlast heat reflective technology in the heel, and tongue liner came in handy to elevate its security on open roads and jammed traffic. There were times when the temperatures dropped in below minus 12 degree Celsius, so I was apprehensive in regards to how long will the shoe keep my feet’s cozy. It has a so called Outlast inserts which maintained the heat from my feet, discharging it back into the boot when the temperature drops even more. So that’s been the formula which enabled me to go beyond 5 hour ride in harsh temperatures.
I never thought it is possible. Admittedly, after 3 hours I had to keep the intensity higher. Once I slowed down, I have got the feeling, the inner temperature drops down a bit.
But again, I am a little bit of an extreme case, my body in unable to work properly under those conditions. 95% of the cycling population won’t have this issue.
I guess the built-in 3M Thinsulate insert in the toe box helped also. It blocked the wind on those gusty days superbly .The insole took benefit of Thermosol composite isolation. I haven’t tested it in Arctic expedition, however based on its build, I truly see this shoe to perform there excellently.
We had a longer snow period and in the past I had to deal with snow getting in my shoes, but with an over-ankle neoprene cuff, that was never problematic. I ran in them a lot, mostly in races, and undoubtedly the snow was so deep, no snow came into the shoe.
Speaking of which, the drawback I had while running was its weight. The shoe is prepared for all winter eventualities, but it is associated with added weight. In all fairness, these shoes aren’t a point-blank race shoes. For that Lake has appropriate models in its portfolio. But I’ll take this minor disadvantage as its weight has not been as tangible while pedaling. And while running and walking I rather appreciated the tight fir given by a BOA ratchet, which enables easy fine-tuning while riding without the jeopardy of coming loose during the ride. As well as, an added buckle holds the ankle flap in place, and protects at the same time.
Beneath I found a standard two-hole mountain cleats. Size is always crucial so it’s good to know that Lake provides whole and half sizes from 38 to 50, with a wide option available in whole sizes from 38 to 48. I took 47 for my spacious feet and still had a room for thicker sock, which wasn’t always a necessity, given Lakes superb heat management.
Thus far, the shoes held up well. I big sight as I finally found in Lake MXZ 303 decent confidante, being able to keep my feet comfortable and warm. The paranoia is gone where I constantly had to limit myself up to 3 hour wintery ride at temperatures below deep zero.
I try to cancel out its robustness [a tad heavier weight] and rather value its strength which this shoe provides aplenty.
The winter is likely to last a few more weeks, and I am scheduled to line up for a 3 stage cyclocross race in Switzerland. In direct comparison with dedicated race winter shoes – which are very rare in the marketplace – I might have a smallish disadvantage. Still I can reach for a race-dedicated Lake winter shoes that is advertised as a CX-shoe. However I don’t want to miss this added warm refuge and the peace of mind that, whatever this shoe stumbles upon, there isn’t barely any chink in its armor.
Winter Last: a much wider & taller toebox than our traditional lasts, the Winter last allows the foot to maintain proper circulation even when thicker socks are worn. Our winter last is the standard for winter cycling footwear
OUTSOLE: Heavy duty Mountain V outsole by Vibram
– Pittards WR100 leather
– Outlast temperature regulating liner-
– 3M Thinsulate lining in toe box
– Thermosol composite insulation insole
CLOSURE: Side mounted Push/Pull BOA IP1 lacing system and buckle top flap