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Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

The Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe, while not in the same class as a Sidi Dominator, is an excellent MTB shoe. This shoe has a 100% carbon sole, full-grain leather upper and a non-slip rubber tread with mud studs (included). At only 365 grams this is an incredibly lightweight shoe and the carbon sole dampens vibrations from the trail.

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

If you ride off-road trails you are going to appreciate the rubber tread and the mud studs—they provide amazing traction for those times you have to get off the bike. And when you do get off the bike you will find this shoe is very easy to walk in as well. This shoe has two pre-drilled holes for SPD cleats. I am using Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats and they work well with this shoe. The shoe closes with three hook ‘n loop straps and has a very secure fit. Mesh inserts in the upper make this shoe very breathable.

As for size, these shoes are available in sizes 39 through 48 (European), and they seem to be true to size. They are also available in wide widths. I bought the wide width shoes (MX235C-X) and they have the widest toe box I’ve found in any cycling shoe. In fact, there is enough room for thick socks, which I need for about half of the year (I live north of Chicago).

Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe

Mesh drainage hole

One of the greatest features of this shoe, and one I’ve not seen anyone else mention, is the mesh drainage hole in the sole of the shoe (like in the shoes triathletes wear). This mesh hole is located under your heel, but is covered by the sole insert. You might not need this feature, but if you ever get caught in a thunderstorm or heavy downpour you will appreciate how this little device helps drain water out of your shoes! I got caught in one downpour this summer and for over an hour my road shoes were filled with water on my way home (not a pleasant feeling).

The Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoe has a list price of $190, but I was able to buy a pair from Nashbar.com on sale for $90. At the sale price this shoe has to be one of the best buys you will ever find for a MTB shoe.

As I said in an earlier product review for another Lake shoe, the only downside to this shoe is Lake Cycling itself. I don’t know of a single manufacturer or distributor of cycling products that has a worse reputation for customer service than Lake Cycling. The shoes they sell are fine, but if you ever need help from Lake Cycling you are out of luck. Their Web site has absolutely no contact information on it at all!

 
 

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Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Toe warmers are intended to allow you to ride in cool weather with your summer cycling shoes. I own at least a dozen pair of toe warmers for my cycling shoes—some good, some bad, some worthless. A few weeks ago I ordered a pair of Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers from Amazon.com. As I opened the package the room I was in grew brighter, a choir of angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus, and all seemed right in the world. OK, that might have been a bit of hyperbole, but this is not: this is the best designed pair of shoe covers I have ever seen!

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

What makes the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers so great? Well, they started with a windproof fabric on the outside coupled with a microfleece lining on the inside. By itself, this is nothing special—nearly every brand of toe covers has a similar fabric. What makes these toe covers stand out is the elastic heel strap that keeps these covers in place. Most toe covers are held in place by an elastic band around the end of the cover. Most elastic bands suffer form one of two problems: either they are so tight you can’t get them over your shoe or they are so loose they won’t stay on. The heel strap on the Dasher allows the cover to easily slide onto your shoe and then keeps it in place as you ride.

The bottom of the Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers have cut-out guides for both SPD and road cleats (I use Look Keo cleats). If you own both type of cleats you could use the larger road cleat cut-out area for both pair of shoes. However, I would suggest you just buy another pair of the Dasher toe covers because the larger cut-out area for the road cleats leaves very little of the bottom of the cover left. When you cut out the area for an SPD cleat you will have a lot of the thick bottom part of the Dasher covering the treads of your MTB shoes—the material on the bottom of the Dasher is thick enough so that this will not be a problem. Some toe covers are so thin that the bottom side of the cover wears out with just a few weeks of use.

Planet Bike Dasher Windproof Toe Covers

The Planet Bike Dasher has cut-outs for both SPD and road cleats

As an added benefit the Dasher has reflective side and back logos. The reflective logo on the back of the heels actually does a good job of making your presence known to motorists. Since your feet (and therefore the reflective logos) are moving up and down as you ride it is more noticeable than the same size logo would be on a jacket or jersey.

Planet Bike offers these toe covers in five different sizes (most companies offer only two). The small cover will fit a man’s size 6.5 shoe (40 European) and the XXL will fit a man’s 12.5 shoe (47 European). Planet Bike has a size chart available on their Web site if you are not sure what size you need.

The Planet Bike Dasher Toe Covers retail for $27. When the weather gets too cold for just a toe cover I would suggest you purchase the Planet Bike Comet Full Neoprene Shoe Covers or the Planet Bike Blitzen Windproof Shoe Cover.

 

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Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

Remember that great pair of cycling shoes you bought that promised to keep your feet cool all summer? Well, you are going to hate them this fall (and next spring). Cool summer bike shoes usually have a lot of vents to increase air circulation and in the fall this is a real problem. The good news is that the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector can block the wind and keep you comfortable at the same time.

Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector

The Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector is made of the breathable, yet totally windproof, Windstopper soft shell fabric. Please bear in mind that this protector is not insulated—it is intended to stop the wind, not warm you up (there is a difference). The product has reflective logos, but they are really not a great selling point. The logos are on the side of the protectors but I doubt if anyone could see them unless they were standing next to you and looked down. Gore only offers this protector in two sizes: S/M (36-41) and L/XL (42-47) sizes.

This toe protector is designed for road shoes. I use these covers on my road shoes with Look Keo cleats and they work perfectly. Some people put these protectors on mountain biking shoes, but I would not recommend it. In order to get them over the sole of a MTB shoe you would really have to stretch it a lot and probably ruin it in the process. In addition, because MTB shoes have tread that hangs down below the cleats, if you use this item on a MTB shoe the fabric will rub against the ground every time you walk in your shoes (something it is not designed to handle).

The Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Toe Protector retails for $30 and I think this is a great investment for something that can extend your cycling season. However, if you are looking for a toe protector for even cooler weather or for your mountain bike shoes then you should buy the Planet Bike Dasher Shoe Cover.

 

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Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

There comes a time in late fall or early winter when even the best shoe covers just won’t keep your feet warm. When you reach this point you have to either purchase a pair of winter cycling boots or just hang your bike up for the duration. A couple of months off the bike will probably cause you to gain a few pounds and it will definitely take you a while in the spring to “get your legs back.” Seeing that you really do need a pair of winter cycling boots, I would suggest a pair of Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots.

Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake Cycling is well-known for their moderately priced cycling shoes, and their MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boot is a fantastic product for those of us who have never outgrown playing in the snow! I bought a pair of these boots two winters ago and it was one of the best cycling purchases I’ve ever made. This boot has a full leather upper coupled with a Vibram rubber sole that makes walking on snow and ice an easy task, and a 3M Thinsulate lining in toe box to keep you warm. Neoprene cuffs and the 2-piece lace overflap seals the shoes incredibly well—I’ve never had snow or rain get inside these shoes while cycling. The side mounted Push/Pull BOA Closure lacing system keeps these shoes at exactly the right tension while on your feet.

The shoes come with a set of spikes (lugs) and a small wrench so you can easily attach the spikes to the front of the sole. You really should install the spikes—you will really appreciate the extra traction they will give you on the ice. I would recommend that you apply a few drops of an anti-seize compound on the threads of the spikes and your cleats before installation. The anti-seize compound will make the spikes and cleats a lot easier to remove after they have spent the winter in snow, ice and road salt. These shoes are SPD compatible.

I don’t have a complaint against these winter boots, but I do wish they were a bit lighter. However, when you are cycling thru several inches of snow and the temperature is around zero you probably won’t be thinking about the extra weight! I’ve cycled over 2,000 miles with these shoes during all sorts of snow and ice storms and my feet have never felt cold.

These shoes are available in men’s sizes 36-50 (whole sizes only) and men’s wide EE 39-50 (whole sizes only). I have wide feet and these shoes fit me perfectly. As you probably know, you need to order a winter cycling shoe in at least a half-size larger than you normally wear so you will have room for thicker winter socks.

The bad news is that these shoes are not cheap! The retail cost is around $300 a pair, but you can sometimes find them online for around $230. I know the price is high, but have you ever considered how expensive a case of frostbite might be?

The only downside to this shoe is Lake Cycling itself. I don’t know of a single manufacturer or distributor of cycling products that has a worse reputation for customer service than Lake Cycling. The shoes they sell are fine, but if you ever need help from Lake Cycling you are out of luck. Getting a phone number or email address for this company is harder than getting the home number for the director of the CIA. Their Web site has absolutely no contact information on it at all!

 

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Sof Sole Arch Support and Cushion Insole

Every time I buy a new pair of cycling shoes the first thing I do is remove the insoles that came with the shoe and replace it with a Sof Sole Arch Insole. I found Sof Sole insoles several years ago when I had plantar fasciitis. I tried at least six different brands of insoles that did little to help my situation and when I saw a display for Sof Sole at a sporting goods store they looked like they were worth trying. The relief they brought was incredible! I no longer suffer from plantar fasciitis, but now every pair of shoes I own has a pair of Sof Sole insoles inside (even my dress shoes).

Sof Sole Arch Support and Cushion Insole

Sof Sole Arch Insole

You don’t have to have plantar fasciitis to benefit from these inserts! They have a wonderful footbed that cushions better than any other insole I’ve tried. They are also anti-bacterial and anti-microbial which means they have great odor protection.

In the past three years I’ve purchased at least a dozen pair of these insoles. I’ve cycled over 6,000 miles in the past twelve months and Sof Sole’s were with me every step (or peddle stroke) of the way. The past few weeks I’ve had to ride on many humid days when the heat index was over 105 degrees and these insoles never held moisture.

Sof Sole insoles are available at several nationwide stores, such as The Finish Line, The Sports Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. If you don’t have any of these stores in your area you can buy the insoles on Amazon.com. The retail price for Sof Sole Arch Insoles is $20. If you don’t have a high arch you need to try one of Sof Sole’s other insoles. They all come with a one-year guarantee, but I doubt if you will ever need it (they are really well made).

 

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DeFeet Aireator Cycling Socks

Summer cycling socks are probably something you don’t think about much. I doubt if most cyclists could even tell you what brand of sock they wear. While you might not get excited talking about socks, your feet will thank you if you wear quality socks instead of the ones you purchased from the close-out table at the bike shop.

DeFeet Aireator Cycling Socks

DeFeet Aireator Hi-Viz Yellow Cycling Socks

DeFeet, a North Carolina based company, has been making quality socks for nearly 20 years. Their Aireator socks are so extremely breathable that they are the only ones I wear during the summer months. Even on long rides in hot and humid weather I have never felt like the Aireator socks were damp. These socks are made of 60% nylon, 39% CoolMax EcoMade yarn, and 1% lycra.

While DeFeet makes cycling socks in all sorts of colors and patterns, I prefer the hi-viz yellow because they increase my visibility to cars coming up from behind me. There is something about the movement of socks as you pedal that makes them stand out better than anything else during daytime rides. I’ve even had motorists pull up next to me at stop signs and say they saw me over half a mile away just because of the socks!

DeFeet Aireator socks retail for around $10 a pair. In the past few years I have purchased about a dozen pair of these socks from Performance Bicycle, but they are not always available, so if you can find them buy several pairs while you can.

 

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Lake CX165 Wide Road Shoes

Cyclists with wide feet are at a disadvantage when looking for bike shoes since many manufacturers don’t even offer a wide shoe. The Sidi Genius 6.6 Carbon Lite Mega road shoe is great, but certainly not priced for anyone on a budget. Fortunately, Lake Cycling has a lower-priced road shoe that I think you will be very happy with.

Lake CX165 Wide Road Bike Shoes

Lake CX165 Wide Road Bike Shoe

The Lake CX165 Wide Road Shoe has a fiberglass-injected nylon sole that provides excellent power transfer from your foot to the pedal. I have found this shoe to be true to size (something a lot of companies cannot say). The shoes are held in place with a triple Velcro strap closure. Once you strap these shoes on they are going to stay in place, but I still found them easy to adjust while cycling. The uppers are made of leather and have mesh inserts for breathability. Personally, I wish the mesh inserts were larger because my feet were getting hot when I rode with these shoes today and the temperature was only 84 degrees. However, riding with these in cooler weather is a very pleasurable experience.

One thing not mentioned in most of the reviews I’ve read about these shoes is that they have a bit of tread at the front of the shoe (like a mountain bike shoe). This tread is not very big but it sure helps you keep your balance at the stop lights.

This shoe is available in both regular and wide (EE) sizes. The men’s sizes go from 39 to 48, with half-sizes available up to 46.5. The women’s sizes go from 36 to 43, with half-sizes up to 42.5 They are available in either silver and black or black and silver.

I bought my Lake CX165 Wide Road Shoes early last winter from Bike Nashbar. The list price is $80.00, but Nashbar often has this shoe on sale for $60.00. Let’s face it, $60.00 for a well-built leather road shoe is a great buy!

The only downside to this shoe is Lake Cycling itself. I don’t know of a single manufacturer or distributor of cycling products that has a worse reputation for customer service than Lake Cycling. The shoes they sell are fine, but if you ever need help from Lake Cycling you are out of luck.

 

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