I was really stoked to test the Lake MX165's as a MTB shoe that I could adventure race in. I've been racing in a MTB shoe by Specialized but the sole is way too stiff for the hike-a-bike sections that inevitably pop up on the courses. Stiff soles are great for added pedaling efficiency but trying to navigate slippery, rocky, often muddy downhill sections of a trail in non-flexing MTB shoes is a challenge to say the least. I also find that during an extended hike a bike my feet really start to hurt due to the rigid position they are kept in as I'm running.
Out of the box the Lake MX is a really cool looking MTB shoe. Since they are compatible with my SPD pedal system, adding the cleats to the shoes was a breeze. Upon trying the shoe on I felt as though it was cut to be a little more generous in the width than my other MTB shoes. LAKE incorporates a traditional lacing system coupled with 3 velcro closures for this shoe. In my opinion this system has both pros and cons. These dual systems offer the rider a great amount of control over the fastening of the shoe. Tight laces combined with the extra security of the Velcro makes these shoes snug and unlikely to go anywhere. I like this when I hit the trails hard. But, sometimes it takes a while to get the laces to lay down in a fashion that is comfortable on the top of your foot. At certain points I felt the knot digging into my foot. You also have to be careful that the laces are neatly tucked into the shoe since you don't want them getting caught in anything as you ride. Also for race transitions this system is a little more time consuming than just having velcro straps.
I rode these shoes a few times on the trails here on Long Island and they were great. Very comfortable, my feet were able to breath and my heel stayed down, rock solid in the shoe. The power transfer felt solid and they made for a great ride. Off the bike the shoes were decent. The vibram sole offered amazing traction and I felt very secure in my footing. This is really where I wanted to test the comfort of the shoe so I spent quite a bit of time hiking and running the trails. Overall, running in the MX 165 was moderately comfortable. For me the soles are still a little stiff for extended times off the bike but more comfortable than what I'm racing in now. I was very impressed with the Vibram sole and just how well they held to the trail. I've had many hiking boots with the same sole and I'm sure that the cleats will by far outlive the mesh/leather upper of the shoe. Vibram is great stuff.
All in all I would sum the Lake MX 165 up as a solid MTB shoe choice for a beginner to intermediate rider. It can be found on sale for $79.99, a great value, for such a well put together shoe. Cut for a wider fit, the MX 165 was comfortable, breathable, offered a really nice power transfer and performed well both on the bike and hoofing the trails. From an adventure racing perspective, I would still be willing to sacrifice some of that power transfer to afford a more flexible shoe, but if you are in the market for a great overall MTB shoe the Lake MX 165 is a stand up choice.
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