- Alyssa Powell/Business Insider
- Cycling in the winter requires a specific collection of gear to make sure your rides are more than just a freezing journey from point A to point B.
- One of the most important areas to keep warm are your feet – it’s hard to come back from the feeling of extremely cold or wet feet.
- Lake’s MXZ200 is a winter-specific riding boot that’s insulated enough to keep your feet warm in frigid winter temperatures.
- The boot is great for road cyclists, mountain bikers, and commuters, alike, and after finally splurging on a pair for myself, it’s the only winter cycling boot I ever want to wear again.
Proper footwear is essential if you plan on riding your bike throughout winter. When the cold starts affecting you on the bike, it’s your extremities that succumb first – and your feet are especially vulnerable. Even on a bike with fenders, your feet are susceptible to road spray and once your toes get wet, it’s over.
Footwear selection is further complicated by the fact that a good walking shoe and a good cycling shoe can be mutually exclusive. While a tall insulated boot with a lugged sole keeps your off-bike commutes comfortable, you may not be willing to accept the extra weight and limited ankle mobility while riding. And if you want to use clipless pedals, this option isn’t anywhere near suitable.
Meanwhile, cycling shoes are awkward to walk in even under the best circumstances. They generally don’t allow you to wear thick socks for insulation, much less traverse an icy sidewalk or snowy section of a trail.
After many years of messing with shoe covers and doubling up on socks, I caved and started looking for a true pair of winter cycling boots. This search led me to the Lake MXZ 200s, an insulated boot designed specifically for cyclists who keep it rolling in the winter.
To be fair, these aren’t the only winter-specific cycling shoes on the market. From comparatively lightweight road offerings to expensive insulated moon boots with lugged soles, there’s plenty of variety. In an ideal world, you’d have multiple pairs of winter shoes to choose from depending on the conditions and kind of ride you’ll be doing.
But that takes some serious money. Instead, you’ll likely spring for just a single pair capable of covering you for everything. Here’s why I believe the Lake MXZ 200 is that shoe.
Lake claims the MXZ 200 to be “comfortable down to 13°F ( -10°C ).” So far this winter, we haven’t seen temperatures that low in New York City but they’ve kept my feet quite warm well into the 20s with nothing but a typical lightweight merino cycling sock in between.
At the same time, while I definitely wouldn’t wear these in the summer, they’ve stayed comfortable when the temperature’s gone well over freezing, too. I even find them ideal for any situation in which I might otherwise have worn some sort of shoe cover.
Tried and true laces
One thing you’ll find while shopping for winter cycling shoes is that many use Boa closures, zippers, Velcro, or some form of other high-tech fasteners – high-tech compared to laces, at least. While these have their advantages, sooner or later those fancy closure systems likely need replacement. When it comes to footwear, it’s hard to go wrong with a simple shoelace, especially on a shoe you plan to keep for many years.
Even if you’re the type who upgrades to the latest and greatest road shoe every season, you’d probably prefer to buy one pair of winter shoes and be done with it. This boot easily lets you do that.
It looks like a regular shoe
Unlike so many dedicated cycling shoes, the MXZ 200 looks like an ordinary pair of hiking boots and as such, works just fine with most off-the-bike wardrobes – it comes in both black and brown, too. This means it’s just as well-suited for urban riding and commuting as it is for weekend rides when you’re decked out in cycling gear.
The shoe is also quite walkable thanks to its rubber Vibram sole. The sole is still relatively stiff, so you wouldn’t exactly choose it for a walkathon. But it’s perfectly comfortable for browsing a store or walking around an office, and the cleat is recessed enough that it won’t go click-click-click on a hard floor.
A multi-trick pony
I’ve been using the MXZ 200 for mountain biking, road riding, and commuting, and it’s performed great across all three. As a mountain bike shoe, its walkability is very welcome if you find yourself in over your head and need to carry your bike over a rocky section of trail. It still manages to avoid feeling heavy when you’re clipped in and riding, too.
As a road shoe, it’s perfectly serviceable. It offers plenty of stiffness and while aesthetically it may be somewhat at odds with your Lycra get-up, you’ll be so warm you’ll hardly care. Do keep in mind the MXZ 200 only takes two-bolt cleats, so you’ll need to use mountain bike pedals on your road bike.
It’s reasonably priced
At $250, the MXZ 200s cost more than a pair of Timberlands but are still a good deal considering the fact they’re an insulated waterproof leather boot that accepts a cleat. The price is in line with other high-performance cycling shoes, too, so it’s price tag isn’t out of the ordinary.
Since it’s a seasonal shoe and you’re going to spend more time riding in it than walking in it, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last several years. Shoe covers, on the other hand, get thrashed in pretty short order and with the MXZ 200, you’re able to save money in the long run.
A note on sizing
I’m wearing the MXZ 200 in the same size as my usual cycling shoes and they fit me well with just a pair of regular socks. However, I live in New York, not Minnesota; if you’re going to be riding regularly in extreme temperatures, it’s smart to size up in order to have room for added insulation.
The same goes if you think you’ll be doing a lot of walking. In this case, you’d want to add more space for comfy socks and wiggle room for your toes.
- Lake Cycling
The bottom line
In all, this is the best investment I’ve made to boost my enjoyment in my cycling in a long time. If you like to log miles during what some people consider the off-season, the Lake MXZ 200 is capable of covering you all winter. With your feet warm and dry, you’ll finally be free to worry about much more important things – like how to keep your damn hands warm.
- Should you buy it? If you live in an area with frigid winters and pan to cycle often, then yes. The MXZ 200’s ability to keep your feet warm during cold weather rides shouldn’t be understated. It has the ability to make uncomfortable winter rides much more enjoyable and allows you to avoid storing your bike from November to April.
- What are your alternatives? There’s a wide variety of winter-specific cycling shoes, though few are as well-rounded as Lake’s MXZ 200. The same brand even has other versions, though most are either geared specifically to road bikers or mountain bikers. What the MXZ 200 provides is versatility for both cycling styles, while also functioning well as a commuter.
Pros: Versatile for road cycling, mountain biking, and commuting, warm enough to keep your feet warm in frigid temperatures, Vibram rubber sole allows you to walk normally when not cycling, features an aesthetic of a normal hiking boot
Cons: Requires mountain bike pedals if used on a road cycle, $250 price tag might be expensive for a seasonal shoe