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The market for cycling specific sandals isn't exactly crowded and the main alternatives, from Shimano and Stelvio, look more like traditional open sandals. These pleasingly chunky and robust Lake I/Os buck that trend by looking more like a perforated leisure shoe.
They have a proper protective enclosure for your toes and a full length tongue to cushion the top of your feet from the straps. You could easily tackle some rougher terrain in these shoes, secure in the knowledge that your toes aren't going to be smacked bloody on the first rock they meet. You can also use them with toe-clips.
These are pretty techy pair of shoes and the marketing men have clearly been enjoying themselves writing descriptions of the various pieces of proprietary wizardry. My personal favourite is "SmartFabric Technology uses microencapsulated Phase Change Material (mPCM)" which just sounds fabulous, whatever it actually does in real life.
The main tech which concerns us is the Boa lacing system and the Vibram sole. The Boa system first appeared on high end road shoes a few years ago and used a dial coupled with strong nylon line to close the shoe. These sandals use a much simpler version, with a cord running all the way round the shoe and securing with a rather flimsy feeling spring loaded clasp. Tightening the shoe up is fiddly and the clasp doesn't grip the cord very well, which means that getting the shoes nicely snug is almost impossible. That said, they don't feel loose on the bike and I haven't noticed them feeling sloppy off it either.
The Vibram sole is standard issue on plenty of leisure shoes and is nicely stiff for riding while being flexible enough to make walking easy. The cleat cutout is a little on the narrow side (I used Crank Bros Eggbeater cleats) which can make clipping in slightly more awkward than usual, but I quickly got used to this. The shoes also have an anti-microbial treatment, which hopefully means that they won't smell after a few sweaty days in the saddle.
Fit is good, helped by the more enclosed design, although the deep heel cup does chafe a little. I have quite wide feet and these 42s fitted perfectly, although the holes do mean that they are more accommodating than a normal shoe.
On the bike they feel very comfortable with the Vibram sole giving reasonable power transfer. The slightly looser fit, compared to an ordinary leisure shoe, means that they aren't quite as efficient but they don't slop about either. You get plenty of extra cooling through the large side holes, although less than you would with a fully open design. Being deeper set does mean that your sole can feel a little clammy though as the air holes come in about half way up your foot.
Off the bike they are reasonably comfortable, the odd bit of initial rubbing aside, but I'm not sure that I would want to spend a long day walking around in them.
If we get the long hot summer that we've been promised then these leisure sandals will be just what every sweaty footed cyclist needs. Of course if we get a never-ending monsoon like last year then at least the holes will let the water drain out and prevent you from getting trenchfoot.
Well thought out compromise between a fully open sandal and a standard leisure shoe. A versatile addition to any serious cyclist's wardrobe.
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Make and model: Lake I/O sandals
Size tested: 42
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?
Leisure cyclists and tourists will probably benefit the most although they are easily good enough for longer rides and audaxes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
These shoes are a marketing man's dream. There's loads of tech on display but the most relevant are the Vibram sole and the Boa lacing system.
They look nicely put together and should last a good few seasons.
Pretty good on the bike, adequate off it.
They look like a good sturdy shoe, but the Boa lacing system is likely to be a weak point. It should be easy enough to replace the lacing if it breaks though.
About 350g per shoe, which is pretty good for a leisure shoe.
Fine on the bike but the deep heel cup chafes a little. Like any footwear designed to be worn without socks, these will take a little wearing in. Because they are more of a ventilated shoe than a fully open sandal the insole always feels a little clammy.
These are good quality and as such, pretty good value for money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A sandal is always going to be a compromise over a 'proper' shoe but these do a good job on the bike, helped by the Vibram sole.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nicely made, the styling isn't too 'dad on holiday' and they are actually quite pleasant to ride in.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The Boa lacing system. It's too fiddly and doesn't inspire confidence. The reflectives are subtle to the point of being useless. Cleat recess is a little snug.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes - lacing aside
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
They look sufficiently shoe-like that you can even get away with wearing a pair of socks on those chilly mornings and evenings without being arrested by the style police.
Age: 39 Height: 5' 8" Weight: er....80kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, fixed/singlespeed,