Written by Hutch & Robert
Cycling shoes are like any other product in any other sport or industry. They’re designed and made for a particular purpose, and that design has to be a balance between performance and protection. Yes, we can make a shoe that gives you the ultimate in protection, but the simple fact is that wearing a suit of armor on your feet will be too heavy, not flexible enough, and the comfort may be sadly lacking - but hey, it’ll definitely protect your feet. Yes, the materials chosen when designing a cycling shoe are not chosen at random; and each individual item is designed for a particular purpose and to work in unison with all the other parts. Leather for instance, is a great material, being soft when processed, in readiness for shoe manufacturing, as is Microfiber, which has its own unique properties.
However, each of these two materials, whilst having great uses, also have limitations; and that means that you, the cyclist, need to be aware of those limitations and need to maintain and look after the shoe in the right way. Otherwise, unlike a suit of armor, we won’t be showing those shoes off in a museum in a few hundred years’ time - and you certainly won’t be riding in them as long as you could have been if you’d known how to maintain them properly.
PROTECTING YOUR HARD-WORKING FEET
Okay then, let’s take a look at our feet. In terms of our body parts, they’re the hardest working, take the biggest beating from daily life, and also have the thickest skin on the human body. We’re designed quite well in terms of how we’ve adapted to the world. When designing a cycling shoe then, we have to protect the foot, but we also have to ensure that we don’t harm it - I’m afraid several shoe brands do, with too narrow a last, and ill-fitting shoes made for aesthetics rather than comfort and performance.
The materials used in our shoes that contact your feet must be pliable and soft, tough but not too tough, and offer just the right amount of protection. It’s a fine balance if we’re going to give you that legendary Lake Cycling shoe comfort and performance, in perfect harmony. There’s always a tradeoff - we just like to limit that trade off, through a well-researched design process; and, when we’ve designed that super comfortable Lake cycling shoe for your own unique feet, you need to maintain them, just as you do the drivetrain on your bike.
DIRT & DEBRIS - THE ENEMY OF YOUR CYCLING SHOES
When cycling, especially off-road, the shoe gets battered by dirt and debris from the roads and trails. The shoe leather can’t breathe as intended, and your feet suffer from sweating and moisture, which now can’t move outwards through the leather. The dirt, mud and even the water, are all abrasive and damaging to the leather and to the other parts, such as the BOAs. The leather dries out and then cracks; and, if you dry the shoe out too quickly and without keeping its shape by filling the inside with something like newspaper, it also loses its shape, as the leather tries to return to its natural shape. Remember, the leather and the Microfiber is shaped purely by the shoe last and sole. Fundamentally, they’re both flat materials, and designed and shaped around your feet.
Microfiber in particular, has a very thin coating of plastic (PU), and the dirt and debris is like sandblasting it. Unless you maintain and clean the shoe, it’s obviously going to suffer and not perform as well as it could. In terms of the BOAs, they’re basically steel cables, coated with very fine plastic. If dirt is allowed to build up, it will eventually get in between the two materials and cause them to separate, meaning that the BOAs simply won’t work as well as they should.
DAMAGE CAUSED BY INCORRECTLY DRYING SHOES
Looking at the overall shoe, if it’s not cleaned, and if it’s badly dried out (exposed to heat or allowed to stay wet), the adhesive used in its construction will begin to degrade. Though the bond between the upper and sole is quite strong, cycling is quite an abusive activity against the shoe construction. Your feet in motion put a large amount of torque against the shoe upper. Eventually, if not maintained well, something has to give - and it’s usually going to be the adhesive, especially when the cyclist does not dry the shoe out properly by exposing it to heat. Getting shoes wet is unavoidable and shoes must be dried out, however drying out a damp cycling shoe will draw out the natural oils that are essential in keeping leather uppers pliable and long lasting. Just like your own skin, these oils need replacing frequently when exposed to water, to ensure that the leather stays soft and doesn’t crack.
LAKE CYCLING, LEATHER SHOE CARE KIT
Here at Lake, we provide special cleaning lotions for the leather on your Lake shoes, replenishing and re-introducing lost oils from the uppers, and keeping them soft and supple, and wrapped perfectly around your feet. Take a look at our Leather Shoe Care Kit, which includes:
- Pecard Leather Lotion for basic maintenance for Action Leather, Kangaroo & Full-grain Leather. (Not usable on Suede Leather)
- Pecard Shoe Oil for conditioning & weather-proofing Kangaroo & Full-grain Leather. (Not usable on Action Leather or Suede Leather)
- Pecard Leather Dressing for protecting, restoring & weather-proofing Kangaroo & Full-grain Leather. (Not usable on Action Leather or Suede Leather)
- Applicator cloth
- Cleaning brush
REGULAR MAINTAINANCE = LONG TERM FOOT LOVE
After each ride, take the time to wipe away the dirt and debris from your shoes. If they’re wet or damp, fill the shoe with dry rags or newspaper and dry them out in room temperature (do not expose them to heat or left out in the sun, if you want to speed up the process a regular room fan will do the trick), then using the Lake cleaning lotion and oil to replenish the oils. Use a soft brush and damp cloth on the soles, to remove dirt, then dry the cleats and wipe a small bit of oil on the metal ones, to stop rusting. We don’t make your cleats, but we want them to keep performing in unison with our shoes, so look after them. Clean the BOAs and wipe away dirt and debris.
Check the shoes frequently, and if there’s any area that need attention, give it that attention. That might mean using some adhesive or glue on rubber protection areas if they’re starting to come away through natural long-term use. Doing these small tasks at regular intervals will mean that you’ll be wrapped in that legendary Lake Cycling comfort for many years. We design the best cycling shoes in the world, to bring you a perfect balance between protecting your feet, comfort and performance. With your support and attention to maintaining them, we’ll be riding together in harmony, for many years to come.