Bontrager XXX Road Shoes  £259.99

8/10

Light stiff and efficient shoes with a good level of comfort and an excellent Boa closure system

Weight 560g   Contact  www.bontrager.com

by Mat Brett   August 5, 2014  

Bontrager's new XXX Road shoes are very light with a reasonable amount of comfort and a great closure system that's easy to adjust on the fly.

We've got a pair of size 46 shoes here and they weigh just 560g for the pair. That's very light, although not quite as light as the Bontrager RXXXL Limited Edition Road shoes http://road.cc/content/review/63356-bontrager-rxxxl-limited-edition-road... that we reviewed a couple of years ago (still available). These XXX Road shoes are more comfortable, though, with a better closure system. Bontrager reckon that a pair of size 42s weighs just 440g.

The upper is made from Clarino microfibre which is a synthetic leather-like material that's supple enough to conform well to your foot shape and tough enough to stand up to the odd scrape. The whole of the upper (not counting the tongue) is one piece so you don't find any seams digging in and causing irritation.

The tongue is generously padded and you get vented panels over the toes and on both sides of the foot. There are more vents in the sole, both underneath the toes and under the middle of your foot. Some people might want larger areas of ventilation, I guess, but I never found my feet heating up uncomfortably and I've used these shoes in 30°C+ several times over the past few weeks.

That closure system I mentioned comprises a Velcro lower strap – as usual, once you have it set you never need to touch it again – and two Boa IP1 dials.

If you've not used Boa dials before you should give them a go. They're ace. They're a little like the clicky wheels you get to adjust the fit of many helmets. Turn them one way and they tighten the cable that you have instead of laces, turn them the other and they loosen. You can also pop the dials upwards to let lots of cable out when you want to take the shoes off.

One small point is that the Boas on the right shoe tighten clockwise while on the left shoe they tighten anti-clockwise. That might sound a bit weird but it feels much more natural that way. They're replaceable too, if you ever trash one in a crash, for instance.

The XXX Road shoes feature Bontrager's Platinum Series Carbon soles which are the stiffest they produce. We've said it before: manufacturers seem to have sole stiffness sorted these days. It's hard to discern any flex at all in these even when you're giving the pedals everything you've got. Heel and toe bumpers offer some protection to the sole when you're walking to and from your bike.

Inside you get a no-slip heel lining to help stop your heel lifting; not that I've ever found that a problem with well-fitting shoes. There's a little bit of padding around the ankle and an inForm footbed that provides a degree of cushioning. I wouldn't say the XXX Road shoes offer the highest level of plushness but a good fit is always way more important than padding and these feel absolutely fine for getting in the big miles; these are shoes that Bontrager's sponsored riders have used throughout the Tour de France, after all.

In terms of fit, I'd say these are just a touch larger than most 46s– slightly longer and slightly wider – but not quite to the point that I'd go down a size. As ever, though, try before you buy if at all possible.

Overall, I found these to be very good shoes. They offer a decent level of comfort – even though they're not quite at the top of the tree in that respect – they're very light and extremely stiff with an excellent Boa closure system.

The Bontrager XXX Road shoes are available in sizes 40-47 and in white and red colour options. On both versions that logo on the heel is reflective. Although these shoes aren't available until November 2014, you can order them now.

Verdict

Light stiff and efficient shoes with a good level of comfort and an excellent Boa closure system

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager XXX Road Shoes

Size tested: 46

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Bontrager say, "The all-new XXX shoes are professional grade thru-and-thru. Luxurious materials. Sophisticated construction. Unparalleled efficiency. And of course masterful fit. No wonder they are the choice of Trek Factory Racing pro road team riders."

Bontrager list these features:

* inForm Pro last - Ergonomically optimized high-performance fit

* Platinum Series Carbon sole - Our lightest, stiffest sole

* Dual independent Boa IP1 dials for zone-specific adjustability

* Stiffness index 14

* Premium Clarino microfiber upper for lightweight, durable and supportive comfort

* Approximately 220g (7.8oz) (1/2 pair size, size 42)

* Ergonomic inForm footbed - Engineered for all-day comfort and support

* No-slip heel lining

They're high-end, high-performance shoes.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Really well made using excellent materials.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Although lightweight, these are durable. The Clarino microfibre upper, for example, is much tougher than its look or weight might suggest.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

You can get lighter shoes but the first thing to go is usually anything that adds to the comfort so you have to make sacrifices there.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10

As I mentioned in the review, getting a good fit is generally more important than padding. Plus, some shoes feel comfortable when you put them on because they flex (both the sole and the uppers). These don't do that. I'd say they have a good level of comfort but not a supreme level of comfort.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

When did top-end shoes start costing this kind of money? I must be getting old. Considering the market as a whole, the price is actually pretty good.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well indeed. These are very light, very stiff and easy to adjust on the fly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The lightweight and the Boa closure system.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I found the lower strap too long and needed to cut it down.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? I'd consider it but there are loads of options if you're prepared to spend this kind of money.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

These shoes score very highly on all-out performance although, as is the case with many high-end products, the price drags the average down a bit.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

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