The Lake MX322 are off-road shoes with road levels of performance. They offer stiffness and performance to match other top options in the best gravel bike shoe category but, for many, that won’t be the reason for buying them. What stands Lake apart are the fit and sizing options, but can this make the high price justified?
Lake MX332 shoes – Technical details
Through the full range, Lake offers more sizing options than almost every other brand and the high-end models are no different. Lake offers three ranges, each based on different lasts (the overall shape of the sole and shoe): the Sport range, which includes the MX177, followed by the Competition range, and the MX332 is within the Race range. Lake also produces the MX403 model and both have elements of the shoe that can be moulded to fit. This MX332 is available in three widths, Regular, Wide and Extra Wide with sizes from 39 to 50, and half sizes almost the full way through.
Lake produces the MX332 in different materials, with the Helcro leather version tested. There is also the MX Lite version, with an upper made from Clarino Microfibre to reduce the weight slightly. A limited colour choice is available, with the black shoes tested and an Urban Blue camo style colourway.
With such a huge number of sizes, choosing the right one might be tricky but Lake provides a sizing guide. The guide works well - I used this to pick the size tested, and it proved to be perfect with good width and length. This is a race-orientated shoe and it will have a slimmer toe box and heel area compared to MX Competition and MX Sport shoes within the Lake range, including the MX177 tested. So if you're looking for a shoe for year-round use and use thicker socks through winter, you may need to size up.
The EU40.5 wide size (pictured) weighed 764g. This is well on the heavier side when compared to some very lightweight gravel-orientated shoes such as the 610g Shimano RX8 shoes.
Lake MX322 shoes – Fit and performance
The outer Helcor Leather material really stood up well to all riding and, despite some rough riding and hike-a-bike, there have been no lasting marks left on the outer sections. The material also cleaned up well and, because the outer is relatively thin, they also dried quickly. I had no issues or hot-foot problems when using them in 20-degree weather and, although there is minimal mesh fabric, they seem to modulate the heat well.
The MX332 insole is the same as the MX177 shoes we tested. It has some shape with a raised support area under the arch, a contoured heel and a small raised point under the metatarsal. Lake does offer a custom insole option and these are heat moldable and available at extra cost.
The rubber sole provided plenty of grip – both on rocks and several rock-hopping stream crossings, trying my best to keep dry feet and succeeding!
Throughout testing, used for both mountain bike and gravel rides, the shoes felt incredibly stiff but comfortable. The only time when the impressive stiffness was not needed was for sections of hike-a-bike.
Lake MX322 shoes – Adjustment and heat moulding
All shoes that are available to mould to fit from Lake are very simple to do from home. Full instructions are available from Lake and the process can be repeated as many times as you like to perfect the fit. I would strongly recommend using an oven thermometer, as the temperature in the oven itself may not be accurate and the temperature tolerance and limits for the shoes are precise.
On the MX322 the area that can be moulded is around the heel, extending to just in front of the area below the highest Boa dial. The shoes can be ridden without heat moulding should you wish but the process is simple enough that it is worth doing. I did ride a few times without heat moulding and, prior to moulding, there was one area that caused slight discomfort, which was the curved area below the ankle bone area. The sections that can be moulded are very firm and this could be felt on sections when walking. This did improve dramatically after heating and knowing the exact problem area meant I was able to adjust to suit. Lake suggests having a second person to help and this can make things easier.
The dual Boa attachments provide plenty of adjustment, giving a precise fit and they are easy to tighten and loosen while riding. The Boa IP1 allows micro-adjustment in both ways and a quick pull-up release. Compared to the more basic L6 Boa the process to get an exact tightness at all points around the foot is much easier.
Lake MX332 shoes – Verdict
Is it possible to justify spending £350 on a pair of shoes? No doubt many will wonder why there would be a need to spend so much, especially for riders who may be perfectly comfortable in a pair from other main brands. The Shimano XC7 is a case in point - it's lighter, has a carbon sole and dual Boa L6 dials for £190.
Perhaps the closest alternative to the MX332 would be the Bont Vapor G, one of just a handful of manufacturers producing shoes that can be custom moulded with five width options and close pricing at £360.
The Lake MX332 shoes make sense for riders who are looking for the ultimate in comfort and performance. With such a wide range of sizes, in addition to having the option to mould the rear heel area, you can get something that fits your feet perfectly. With construction and fabrics that are designed and built to last, the high cost should make for years of comfortable riding and racing.