A full carbon, tri specific cycling shoe with a twist.
A better transition execution with regard to the ease of entry on the fly.
A nice shoe overall, however, we feel there are several 'tweaks' needed for this shoe to be a standout.
When we were first contacted about reviewing the new Lake TX312 we admittedly didn't know much about the new shoe. When it arrived the first impression we had was that it looked strikingly similar to a shoe that we had reviewed several months earlier, the Specialized Trivent.
While there are definite similarities, the shoes are quite a bit different from a design, and for that matter, usability standpoint.
Obviously, the most noticeable design element of the new Lake tri shoe is with the semi-detached heel.
The rear of the shoe features a retention system that incorporates a single BOA dial and thin cables which allow the heel, and the fit, to be dialed in.
The best part about the BOA system in our opinion is the nearly infinite amount of adjustability you get. Whether it's a small click to fine tune the tension or several turns of the dial to close things up in a hurry, this system is excellent.
The biggest complaint we have with the Lake version of the semi-detached (or whatever the hell you wanna call it) heel is with trying to actually get your foot into the shoe. Plain and simple they are just not very transition friendly, especially when you keep your shoes clipped in like we do. The opening is too small and there's no way to keep the heel out of the way when you are trying to shove your foot in.
The sides of the shoe in that area are also very thin, which is great from a comfort standpoint, but the sides aren't substantial enough to stay put when you are putting them on. Since that part of the shoe is of the thin mesh NuFoam material they have the tendency to follow your foot into the shoe and roll down around the sides of the foot. We think this area could be beefed up a bit where the sides could hold their shape when they come in contact with a foot.
Another issue is with the typical two strap setup for the front half of the shoe. It seems like Lake went to a lot of trouble to incorporate a nonconventional heel and retention system only to leave the rest of the shoe as is. We would like to see Lake use the benefit of the breakaway heel to their advantage and incorporate a cleaner front half of the shoe. Something more along the lines of what they did with their road shoe.
We feel like this would make for a better design, and also provide a more secure feel to the shoe. It also seems as though it would distribute the tension of the BOA system around the entire foot, rather than just at the back. The current design seems to just cram the foot forward when tightening the tension instead of surrounding the foot with a more balanced fit.
The top straps are secured with velcro and open away from the drivetrain as you'd expect. There's also a notch and an extra wide tab to keep the strap from coming completely out of the shoe.
We found the top strap to be a bit too long as we often had the annoyance of it rubbing the crank as we pedaled. A little less length or an additional bit of velcro to secure the outer tab would be cool.
Frankly, with the shoe the way it is now, it actually makes for a slower transition than many of the traditional tri shoes that we have used in the past. It's just cumbersome to have to jack with all the pieces/issues to get into this shoe. On a positive note, there is a nice large heel loop out back, and perhaps a Velcro tab of some sort would help keep the heel open for an easier entry.
The good news with the design is when it comes time to slip the shoe off. A quick pull on the BOA dial to release the tension and viola, the foot slides out pretty effortlessly. With the way the heel folds away we didn't find it necessary to have to unstrap the shoe, which is nice coming into T2.
The full carbon sole of the TX312 provides plenty of stiffness for applying power to the pedals.
The sole also features vents to aid in airflow as well as drain holes for...let's just call it 'moisture' management.
Lake has added markings a plenty so that cleat positioning/replacement should be fairly pain free.
There's also a small replaceable heel pad.
Once you get the shoe on, the comfort is pretty nice. We've done plenty of long rides in the TX312 and found it to be adequate in the comfort department. If we were going to nitpick we'd like to have the heel and possibly the sides come up a bit higher on the foot to give it a little more secure feel, or at the very least move the lower heel cable up a little. It feels a little low, maybe just a personal thing, but the lower cable feels like it places the tension of that cable too low on the heel.
The upper of the Lake TX312 is a combination of a TeKtile synthetic outer skin and NuFoam. The TeKtile synthetic leather is soft and has held up nicely. The NuFoam material is lightweight and breathable making it a nice option to have in key areas of the shoe. This time of year makes it hard to tell how well it will perform in the extreme heat of summer, but we don't foresee a problem in the ventilation department.
The interior is very soft and easy on bare feet, which is the only way we've ridden with the shoe.
Our samples were spot on as far as sizing goes and the chart below translated to a great fit.
Our scale shows the Lake TX312 (size 46.5) at a mere 275g which is among the lighter tri shoes we've tested.
MSRP of the TX312 is $329.99 which puts them in line with many top end offerings from other manufacturers.
TriBomb Bottom Line
While we appreciate the forward thinking and the attempt to improve on the design of the traditional tri shoe, we feel like there are definite improvements that need to be made to put this shoe over the top. The biggest issue in our opinion is with getting into the shoe. For a tri specific shoe the Lake TX312 comes up short when trying to quickly get into the shoe in a speedy T1 kind of way.