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review

Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe

8
£425.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Mouldable shoes that offer superb levels of comfort and support, although they don't come cheap
Mouldable soles provide comfort and support
Virtually flex-free
Micro-adjustable Boa closure
Well, they're over 400 quid
Weight: 
718g

Lake's CX 403 shoes are a serious investment but they offer a huge amount of support and stability thanks to their mouldable carbon fibre soles, while kangaroo leather uppers provide a high level of comfort and Boa dials allow you to fine-tune the fit in both directions.

Lake's custom-fit carbon fibre sole is arguably the star of the show here. The sole extends up around the side of your foot in all areas – only by a few millimetres in the forefoot but almost to the full height of the shoe towards the rear (considerably higher than is visible), forming an integrated heel counter.

> Buy these online here

It's this back section that's mouldable – the upper parts of the heel counter. Lake suggests that you have the initial fitting performed by a dealer, leaving you to make any further tweaks at home.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - sole heel.jpg

I'd agree with that because, although it's a straightforward process, I found sticking £425 shoes in the oven to be terrifying. What if you accidentally set the oven too hot? What if you forget they're in there? What if someone comes to the door with an emergency and you end up cooking your brand new shoes until they're burnt to a crisp? None of this stuff is actually going to happen, it's just the thought of depositing a box of char-grilled cycling shoes in the wheelie bin that filled me with fear.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - heels.jpg

I did the moulding myself and, predictably, it went entirely without incident. You heat up your oven to the required temperature (90°C in a conventional oven for a maximum of 3-4mins, 80°C in a convection oven for 4-5mins) and sling your shoes inside. Once heated, you take them out (use some oven gloves!), put them on and shape any sections that require it.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - side detail.jpg

I initially found a little too much pressure at a point just to the rear of the foot arch. Once heated, the carbon fibre is by no means soft but it is just about pliable so you can ease it around. Gently does it!

Lake says that you can heat up the soles for remoulding as many times as you like, which was just as well for me because it took me several goes to get it right. Waiting a few minutes for the shoes to heat up every time is dull, so turn the radio on and set a timer. Of course, you might get it right first go in which case, chapeau! But it might take a couple of cups of coffee.

> Buyer’s Guide: 22 of the best performance road cycling shoes

It's worth persisting for the reward you get in terms of fit. Once done, I had a shoe that supported my foot beautifully from front to rear – no tight spots, no heel lift, no nuffin'. That sole is mega-stiff and also, because of the shaping, extremely comfortable, and that's a winning combination. Even on my longest rides, I've never given a moment's thought to pressure or tenderness.

The kangaroo leather upper is similarly comfortable. In my experience, cycling shoes often reach peak comfort about two rides before they start to fall apart. By that point they've shaped to your feet perfectly, and the next thing you know a seam has started to come apart or the lining rubs through.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - side detail 1.jpg

These, though, are super-comfy from the off, the supple leather quickly conforming to any little irregularities in your foot. You do get creases in the upper more readily than with something like a microfibre, a bit like with everyday shoes after a few uses, but that's just a visual thing. I can't say it bothered me. If the leather has stretched over the course of the test period, it has been too little for me to notice.

Ventilation comes via perforations in the forefoot and the tongue as well as in the outsole. These holes don't let as much air in and out as the mesh panels you get with some other shoes, but I've not noticed hot, sweaty feet while using these.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - toe.jpg

Although it's quite thin, the kangaroo leather is resistant to abrasion and tearing although, like any other material, you could rip it in a slam. If you do, Lake has a two-year crash replacement policy: 50% discount on a new pair in the first year, dropping to 25% in year two.

Closure is handled by two Boa IP1-S dials per shoe. When Liam reviewed Lake's CX 402 shoes he said that the unidirectional Boa dials clamped the foot well but that they could be frustrating if you overtightened them because they didn't incrementally loosen. The dials used here are different; they click in both directions, so if you go too tight you can accurately ease things off again in an instant.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - sides.jpg

The laces run through slits in the upper and fabric loops. I thought that these would be a weak point but three months in and there are no signs of wear yet, so it looks like my fears were unfounded.

The sum total of all these features is a superb pair of road shoes. These might not be especially light – they're heavier than the Lake CX 238 shoes (£250) that I'm also reviewing at the moment, for example – but they are incredibly comfortable and stable with zero heel lift once you have them moulded correctly, and I've no reason to doubt that they'll last the distance.

2020 Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe - sole toe.jpg

A £425 price tag puts these among the most expensive shoes we've ever reviewed on road.cc (although Mavic's £900 Comete Ultimate shoes are likely to retain the top spot for about a decade to come), and most people can't – or don't want to – spend this much.

Bont's Vaypor S shoes also have mouldable soles and they're cheaper at £325.

Bont Riots are also heat mouldable and they're much more affordable at £100. I get on really well with Bonts but some people just can't get them to fit despite the customisation, so definitely try before you buy.

Conclusion

Moulded properly to your feet, the Lake CX 403 shoes are comfortable and supportive with virtually no flex in the soles. The uppers are supple yet tough and the Boa dials are easy to adjust on the fly. If you have the money and you want to treat yourself to something special, get measured up and give these shoes a go.

Verdict

Mouldable shoes that offer superb levels of comfort and support, although they don't come cheap

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Lake CX403 CFC Carbon Road Shoe

Size tested: 46

Tell us what the product is for

These are high-end road riding shoes. I have reviewed the regular fit CX 403 although Lake also makes a wide version.

They come in white/black, black/silver and chameleon green as well as this chameleon blue option. It's hard to tell from the photos but this finish looks different depending on the angle from which you view it, a bit like oil on a wet road. It's a bit spesh!

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Lake lists these features:

CX/TX race last: Featuring a slightly narrower toe box & tighter heel than [Lake's] Competition last and less overall volume than the Sport last. Designed for very high-cadence riding & higher pressure and a slimmer fit.

Outsole: Custom fit carbon-fibre sole. Men's regular width available in a 3-hole or for custom order only Speedplay specific cleat pattern for use without adapters. Replaceable heel strike pad.

Upper: Klite kangaroo leather & Carbitex CX6 carbon fibre stabiliser support panels help keep the foot stabilised, control stretch and allow for increased power transfer. Lined with perforated kangaroo leather for great fit & feel.

Closure: Dual side mounted push/pull IP1-S BOA lacing system

A large panel on the back of each shoe looks black in daylight but it's reflective.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Toe and heel pads add protection for the carbon fibre sole. The heel pad is easily replaceable if it wears out.

Look advises you to use a leather lotion or cream to keep the uppers in good shape.

Rate the product for fit:
 
10/10

If the fit isn't right, you heat the shoes up and remould them.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
7/10

I took my usual size. You get the option of a regular or a wide fit.

Lake provides online measuring instructions. These worked perfectly well for me. However, if I was spending my own money rather than organising a pair for review, I'd visit a trained Lake Custom Fit Carbon technician to make sure I got the correct size, and have them moulded by a professional.

Rate the product for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Lake recommends that you clean the uppers with leather cream, but it's not as if you'll be doing this all the time. If they get dirty with spray from the road, a quick wipe with a slightly damp cloth does the job.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

They're extremely comfortable and supportive. If you struggle with achy feet, consider giving these a go.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The mouldable soles, the Boa closures that are micro-adjustable in both directions.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Most people are going to struggle to justify the price.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

These are among the most expensive shoes we've ever reviewed on road.cc (although Mavic's £900 Comete Ultimate shoes are likely to retain the top spot for about a decade to come), and most people can't – or don't want to – spend this much. Bont's Vaypor S shoes also have mouldable soles and they're cheaper at £325. Bont Riots are also heat mouldable and they're much more affordable at £100. 

Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.

Would you consider buying the product? If I could afford them.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Fabulous shoes, the only thing working against them being that the price puts them out of reach of most of us.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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