BikeBiz tackles Lake rep Martin Pounder about technology, materials, Speedplay and much more...
Tell us a bit about Lake’s origins in cycling?
Lake has been around since the early ‘80s, 1982 to be precise, and its origins were Boulder, Colorado, where they actually made the first MTB-specific shoe. Lake has had riders such as Sastre, Farrar and Wegmann supporting the brand, to our current home grown talent of Houvenaghel, Birkmyre, David Daniell, Torq’s MTB and triathlon teams and the all-conquering Maxgear RT.
Where are the shoes manufactured?
The shoes are produced in China, under the watchful eye of the in-house designer Chris Hutchens, who developed our market leading custom CX401 and all new CX331 and MX331 models.
Does Lake offer any Speedplay compatibility?
Lake are one of the few shoe manufacturers to produce a Speedplay specific sole, which we offer in our top two custom fit road shoes (the CX401 and CX331), our top end triathlon specific shoe (the TX312) and our most popular road shoe (the CX236), eliminating the need for adapters and offering a positive solid sole for the Speedplay cleat.
How long does it take to put together and test samples and what’s involved?
Every shoe is developed individually and every part is tested from the quality of leather, to the dye, the stitching, the soles – they are heated, frozen, and then shock tested to destruction, to ensure every rider can focus on the ride, and know his or her shoe won’t let them down. Each new carbon model actually takes on average 160 days to produce.
What feedback have dealers and consumers been passing on in recent times? What does the user want from their shoe?
Both our clients and end users have given great feedback on the shoes and we work constantly with our UK sponsored athletes, as their feedback is critical in the development of the shoes. The UK market helps set the standard required to develop great shoes. Most want a shoe that fits well, is exceedingly comfortable, doesn’t slip, and creates no hot spots. It helps if it looks good at the same time.
Is there any technology proprietary to Lake that won’t be found elsewhere?
Lake shoes are one of very few using the patented BOA system as a closure. There are a few copies around, but not offering the same technology or warranty. They are also one of the only brands to offer a complete custom fit service, moulding the shoe to your foot, using a patented carbon heel system.
It seems the shoe market has thickened with numerous new brands in recent years – how does Lake differentiate itself?
Lake doesn’t claim to be a mass market shoe, and has no intention of making itself a mass market shoe. It has a niche spot with the lines on offer – with BOA, and our fitting service, Lake continues to flourish as new brands appear and then disappear as quickly.
What price range does Lake’s line span? Typically what kind of margin will a reseller expect to see?
The range currently offers an entry-level shoe for under £80, working up to just under the £400 mark with our top shoe. We offer specific incentives in terms of margin and in-store support for dealers who make a commitment to the Lake brand.
Will we see Lake at any shows this year?
Lake will be on show at all the major events this year, including the Cycle Show and will also be making an appearance at the first Irish Cycling Show. In addition to shows and events we offer one to one visits with all prospective clients, at a time convenient to them, which gives them the opportunity to see and discuss the full Lake range.
Anything significant in the pipeline that you can let us in on? Material advances, perhaps?
Lake has a continual development program that will tweak existing models, and develop new shoes as the market evolves. I can say there are some very interesting and exciting developments for their 2013 range, which will be out in October this year.
What are the advantages of the BOA system and will this eventually trickle down through the range?
We have fought hard to sell the BOA story, and it is reaping its rewards, especially as all the BOA systems carry a lifetime warranty. The main benefit is they don’t create any extra pressure to the bridge of your foot, as the lacing provides a smooth even tension. BOA is also very lightweight and easy and quick to use compared with other closure systems. More shoes will come into the range with BOA, as to price point – that’s another story.
Cycling shoes aside – does Lake offer any other accessories via Moore Large? How many shoe models are carried by ML?
Lake are looking to add accessories that would compliment the shoes. This includes things like socks, but these need to carry a similar level of technology and benefits as the shoes – they won’t just be your average pair of socks. In terms of shoes we carry two Tri specific shoes, one winter boot, one leisure boot, six road models (including the two carbon custom fit) and four mountain bike models (including one carbon custom fit). We also carry wide-fit options and half sizes in some models.