If you’re looking for a good pair of cycling shoes for riding in cold snowy conditions, you don’t have many options. I chose a pair of Lake MXZ300 winter shoes and this will be my third winter riding in them.
These shoes are comfy! The neoprene internal liner is a nice snug fit, without being too tight or constricting. You should get a pair that are a size or size and half larger than you would usually wear. This will let you wear a pair (or two) of thick warm socks. Trying to cram your foot into a shoe that’s too tight will work against you by constricting the blood flow to your foot. Less blood flow means colder feet.
Additionally, these shoes have a fairly large toebox area, so there’s plenty of room to wiggle cold toes and to add one of those small hand-warmer pads for really cold rides.
Make sure that any pants you’re wearing go over the shoe – not inside it. Snow or sleet will quickly find its way into the shoe if your pants are tucked in, and that cold wet trickle gets uncomfortable very quickly.
Modifications you should make
One of the first things I did was remove the shoelaces. After about a month, the laces were so shredded from getting caught on the Velcro straps, they quickly became an annoyance. After I removed them, the shoes actually felt better. The Velcro straps are more than sufficient to keep the shoe snug on your foot, and it’s faster and easier to put the shoes on and take them off without the laces.
I also changed the insoles. The ones that came with the shoes were okay, but I replaced them with some thicker felt ones that also had a thin metallic layer that helped reflect some of the warmth back into my feet. These are available from most outdoor or hunting stores. (I paid about $3 for two pairs from Marks Workwearhouse.)
Whether you are riding with cleats or not, be sure to seal the shoe from the outside with silicone or Shoe Goo. Water can easily find its way into the shoe while you’re cycling if there’s no sealant.
I’ve ridden down to -45C with these shoes on. (Not very far… J) While these shoes do a good job of keeping my feet warm down to about -20C, after riding for about an hour, my toes start to get cold. Adding a pair of cycling booties to help make them more windproof made a noticeable difference, as did using small chemical hand-warmer pads on the top of my socks.
After three seasons
Overall, the shoes have held up quite well to the wear and tear of riding through wet, dirty and salty conditions. I rarely cleaned these shoes, so some of the wear and tear might be a result of my neglect.
Calgary weather changes by the second… After a dump of several inches of snow in the morning, it’s not uncommon to ride home in melting slush. These shoes have held up extremely well in wet sloppy conditions. They won’t keep your feet dry if you’re walking through ankle-deep puddles, but even with the odd toe touch down, the shoes have kept my feet dry.
The toe spikes provided with the shoes were almost completely useless in icy conditions, and wear very quickly. Consider replacing them with a pair of Sidi toe spikes (the ones on the left) which are much longer lasting and work much better than the smooth Lake ones.
I also ran into a few problems with toe spike tear-out. If you suddenly have to put your foot down while moving, the toe spikes are going to take the full brunt of your momentum, and the small mounting point simply isn’t strong enough to take that force. I had the spikes tear out a couple of times. After replacing them with the Sidi toe spikes and using some blue Loctite, I’ve had no problems with them over the last two seasons.
The stitching has completely disintegrated from the backs of both shoes, where the soft boot is sewn to the outer shell. This is a bit annoying, because the shoes now feel “floppy” when riding or walking in them. (Time for a visit to the shoe doctor…)
The neoprene inner shoe is also starting to show some serious wear, to the point of almost being worn through. I think this is because of the snug fit of the neoprene inner – there’s no way to get the shoes on or off without your socks rubbing against this area. This doesn’t seem to affect the shoe’s performance, as the neoprene inner is fully covered and well sealed by the outer boot when you cinch the Velcro straps.
An excellent shoe that holds up quite well to nasty winter conditions. I’m guessing they’ll easily last another few years with a bit of attention and minor repairs. (I wish my chain and chain rings lasted that long!)
Note: This particular model is no longer produced by Lake, but they do have “new and improved” models.