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Come winter, cold feet are the bane of every cyclist’s life, mine especially. Thicker socks can reduce blood circulation, ironically causing cold feet when you’d hope to cure them, and I find overshoes can be a bit of a faff, and never where they’re supposed to be when you need them. So, a fully winterized cycling specific shoe seemed to be just the job.
First off, this is not strictly a road orientated winter cycling boot. Lake do produce a winter road boot (the CXZ302) but it’s not available in the UK. Personally, I’d be less than happy tackling icy road surfaces wearing a smooth road type sole anyway, so the rugged Vibram outsole of the MTB orientated MXZ302 is definitely not a negative feature. The downside of this is that the MXZ302s are only suited to use with SPD cleats rather than road style cleats. Again though, if you’re a multi-cycle household (and let’s face it who isn’t?) then a boot you can pop on for road riding, touring or mountain biking has got to be a good thing- provided you run SPD pedals on all of them obviously.
The Vibram outsole, as mentioned, is rugged, grippy and has an aggressive tread that’ll cope well with snow or mud. The boots also take removeable studs (two on each foot) and eight are supplied as standard along with a stud spanner. The outer of the boot is high quality Pittards leather, which can easily be protected with waterproofing products such as Nikwax (a sample sachet sufficient to treat both boots is provided). This does not have the lifespan issues that similar footwear using Gore-Tex can experience. In prolonged heavy use the pores in Gore-Tex membranes can become clogged, greatly diminishing the breathability of the shoe and leading to uncomfortable perspiration issues- not good in a winter shoe where sweaty feet = cold feet. So an all-leather boot, using no waterproof membrane, just the external leather treatment should remain breathable and serviceable for many years, provided you continue to look after it. There are generous Scotchlite reflective patches on the leather too for increased after dark visibility.
The boots work beautifully at keeping feet dry, even in torrential rain, provided your tights or socks give a sufficient ‘seal’ around the top of the boot. The neoprene collar is comfortable to wear, but for those with slimmer ankles, it might be a little roomy without longs or long socks. The boots fasten using the glove friendly Boa mechanism – as commonly seen on triathlon shoes- which is really easy to both tighten and release, as well as giving a comfortable wear and easy on the fly adjustment. The upper ankle area secures with a simple Velcro fastening flap. A special little tool comes in the box with the shoes for Boa maintenance.
In addition to simply keeping feet dry and blocking wind, the MXZ302s also feature Outlast technology, which was developed by NASA to help astronauts manage their temperature. Roughly speaking Outlast holds heat when you don’t need it and releases it when you do, meaning your feet stay a stable temperature rather than fluctuating between hot and cold. It certainly seems to do the trick, even on a very cold hilly ride of a few hours, where my feet would normally have been frozen after the first descent.
The only minor niggle, apart from the staggeringly high price, is the fact that cleat adjustment is somewhat limited by the volume of the boots. Position the cleat too far over and you can end up rubbing the boot against the crank on every pedal stroke. The narrower the crank and bottom bracket, the less this is a problem, but it’s still something to watch out for.
The MXZ302s come in a unisex fit (suited my average feet just fine) in sizes 40-48. Sizing is a little on the small side, so a 40 was perfect for my size 38.5-39 feet with warm but not over-thick socks.
An investment piece of kit that will help keep winter riding as enjoyable as the rest of the year and hopefully prevent slackening off.
Warm, dry and well put together.
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Make and model: Lake MXZ302 Winter Boot
Size tested: 39
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Primarily aimed at mountain bikers for winter use, but I feel applicable to any winter cyclist using SPD style pedals.
Road specific version not available in UK
Designed to help keep feet dry and warm in the most hostile cycling conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NASA developed Outlast technology to keep feet a stable comfortable temperature.
PIttards leather uppers protect from wind and rain or snow. Easily waterproofed using Nikwax or similar (sachet provided)
Boa dial-in steel lacing fastening- similar to triathlon shoes.
Vibram outsole with aggressive tread.
Takes studs (two at forefoot)- 8 supplied with stud spanner.
Reflective patches on outer shoe.
Unisex fit- available in size 40-48
Incredibly well made with high quality components. A simple design means there's less to go wrong, and even the high tech Boa fastening comes with a little tool for maintenance.
Feet stayed warm and dry in conditions where I'd normally have been forced to curtail the ride and go home.
Use of waterproof membrane free high quality leather means these boots will last longer than similar products using Gore-Tex. Waterproofing is easy to maintain by using Nikwax or similar products and you even get a free sample in the box. This also maintains the condition of the leather.
Replacement parts are available for life for the Boa fastening system free of charge from the Boa direct.
Not the lightest, but what do you expect from a fully winterised leather boot with SPD cleats?
Extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Fine to walk in too.
Very expensive but it's hard to put a price on actually enjoying winter rides, rather than enduring thawing your feet out afterwards and the ensuing chilblains.
Better value for multi-bike users, where SPDs are the pedal of choice.
Will last for years if you look after them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Kept feet dry and warm and was very comfortable to wear. Performed excellently and did what it says on the tin.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of use, wear comfort and how effective they were at keeping my feet warm.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A good long term investment for riders who really suffer from the cold and want to really make the most of winter riding.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.