This review was almost a year in the making, but for a shoe at this price (about $500) I wanted to see if it could perform in cold, snow and rain to scorching heat and everything between.
The Lake CX402 is the newer edition of the CX401. The major difference between these models is that the CX401 is built with a single Boa lacing system and the CX402 is built with two of them. I've spent time in the CX401, and a problem arose with this shoe when I adjusted the tightness to my liking on the heel; the forefoot was too narrow. The single Boa system in the older version maintained the shoe's width evenly fore and aft, that is, when you tightened the heel it also tightened the forefoot.
This was my one complaint with this shoe. When Lake released the CX402 this sounded like my dream shoe.
The Lake CX402 is made with a carbon fiber sole as you might expect from a shoe priced at this level. From the midfoot to the heel the carbon fiber is custom moldable via heat activation. This process is simple, it requires no special tool and the shoes come with step-by-step instructions.
Do you need to custom mold it? For most of us, no, the standard shape is already fine.
When you release the Boa system you may need to spread the heel a little to get your foot in. Once your foot is in you sense the perfect fit of the shoe. It supports the arch without pressing upward too much and, if you need more support, you can also custom mold this part as well.
Did I try to custom mold it? Yes, and I actually felt that they fit even a little better but it might be a placebo. Maybe I just hoped they fit better because of the molding process.
The upper is made from very soft and flexible K-Lite Kangaroo leather. It feels thin and vulnerable. I wondered how long it would take before this leather got stiff or damaged or odorous or anything you don't want in shoes at this price. I tried to expose the weakness in it.
The difference maker is the dual Boa systems: one rearfoot, one forefoot. As I hoped, this was just the fix that made these shoes fit perfectly. The forefoot I didn't even have to twist down. The rear Boa I can adjust as I prefer without the forefoot clamping down.
This shoe also has a tongue of the perfect length. Maybe just me, but I'm annoyed when the tongue is overlong, so that at certain points of the pedal stroke it pushes against the front of my ankle. Although the tongue doesn't feel that thick it doesn't matter how hard you tighten the Boas, you don't feel the lacing pushing against the top of your foot. The pressure is expressed evenly throughout the upper.
When riding the power transfer is fantastic and you feel close to the pedal. But with every shoe my main concern whether my feet will eventually turn numb. This is a consistent problem I have. In this Lake shoe I experience no numbness at all. Well, at least not at normal intensity. When I push with more power I can sense just a little, but nothing like I have in other shoes.
I think it's because of the construction of the sole. When you remove the insole you'll feel a slightly softer material underneath, not mushy, rather like a layer of rubber that is fairly firm but a lot softer than carbon. This little extra give makes this my ideal shoe.
I have ridden this shoe for the past year through all conditions and I can't believe how good the shoe has held up. The K-Lite Kangaroo leather looks brilliant. It feels even softer than when it was new, no damage, no weak spots. And all sockless riders know what sweat can do to your shoes. The Boa systems work flawlessly, never gave me any trouble and these shoes feel so good that I used them even in triathlons though they are not tri shoes proper (using standard road shoes is becoming more prevalent among pro athletes racing longer distances).
A pair of these shoes will set you back around $500, a lot of money for shoes, but I would do it again after riding the last year in this shoe. When I see how many hours a year I spend in my bike shoes and how much trouble I have had with previous shoes with toe numbness it is for me worth every penny. Judging by the look and feel of these, they are going to last for years to come.
When I bought them they were only available in white with a touch of black. That black sits at the front of the shoe, strategically placed where the shoe might rub the back of the front tire. But I like all-black shoes, because they match my bike and my gear. Just a few months after I bought the ones I have Lake came out with the all-black edition. I'm stuck with the whites because they last a long time, and there is no shoe that can replace this shoe for me.
The LakeCX402 is available in men's and women's specific sizing. In the men's version they also carry a wide model. I can use the normal width without any problem and I have width D to 2E. Wider feet need the wider version. They are also available in a lot of half sizes through the size range. For those using this pedal there is a Speedplay-ready model.
Now available in white, red and, yes, black.