Lake, which was founded in 1982 in Evanston, Illinois, USA is known as one of the most innovative cycling shoe companies around. After all, Lake created the industry’s first foam insole, the first mountain bike (MTB) specific cycling shoe and the first winter cycling boot. On the road cycling scene, Lake was one of the first few companies to introduce a production cycling shoe with heat moldable carbon sole in 2005. Lake has been in somewhat of a hiatus but with new owners helming the brand in 2012, expect to see a brand new range of cycling shoes which caters to cyclists of various disciplines such as road, mountain, triathlon and even cyclocross.

Christian van Asten, the co-owner of Lake Cycling International was in town last month and we managed to ask him a few questions about Lake’s products and plans for the upcoming year.

How did your involvement with the Lake brand come about?

I am one of the two co-owners of the brand. We brought the brand over in early 2012 and prior to that, the brand was owned by an investment company.

I understand that the company has been in a somewhat hiatus before you guys took over. And now that the brand is coming back in a big way, could you tell us about the upcoming developments for Lake?

In 2014 we will be introducing 5 new shoe models with new technologies. Our brand is growing in the US as well as Europe (our biggest market) and we are now also starting to set our sights on Asia. In China we have been doing distribution for the past 5-6 years and we are beginning our first year of distribution in Singapore and the Philippines. We will be working with a new distributor in South Korea come 2014.
Are you guys sponsoring any professional cycling teams? 
We are sponsoring the Asia-based Champion System professional continental cycling team as well as the US-based Hincapie Development Cycling Team led by ex-pro rider George Hincapie. We also sponsor quite a number of locally-based cycling teams because we feel that local exposure of the brand amongst cycling groups and communities work better for the brand, compared to sponsorship of high-level professional cycling teams because the shoes are hardly visible in the pro peloton.
How big is the Lake team?
 
Currently there are about 10 of us in total, including the 2 owners. We have a quality control guy in China and a representative based in the US. Distributors-wise, we feel that it is better to let the local distributors handle the sales and marketing in their respective countries/markets given their local presence and knowledge. We just support the distributors should they require it.
Tell us more about the MX331 cyclo-cross specific shoe, since it is something not commonly seen with other brands. Was it designed specifically to cater to the US market since cyclocross is a rather popular cycling discipline there?

Above: New for 2014-the MX331, Lake’s cyclocross-specific cycling shoe
Yes, we developed the MX331 cyclo-cross shoe with US riders, but is designed for both the US and European markets. Since we are a brand focused on cycling shoes, it allows us to do our own product development independently, based on the specific needs of different countries.

Above: The sole of the MX331. Notice the replaceable front studs and heel grips (it could also be used for mountain biking)
Similarly for the new CX402 (see below photo), the new top-tier road shoe for Lake for 2014, the development period was about a year and we performed lots of testing.

Above: Notice the double BOA closure system for the new CX402 carbon road shoe
What are your plans for Lake as a company in the long term?
We want to continue to be innovative and grow in existing and new markets. We are looking for more ‘Lake Heroes’-those who use lake shoes, whether for recreation or competition and share their stories as ‘Lake Heroes’.
Thank you Christian for taking time to speak to us!
Lake Cycling Shoes are locally distributed by Fat Cat Cycles.