Superlight race shoes with a decent level of comfort thrown in
Weight: 476g Contact: bontrager.com
The Bontrager RXXXL Limited Edition Road Shoes are an extremely lightweight race day option with a decent amount of comfort.
Bontrager call this a 'ZeroXS' design and you can see why. They've pruned everything right down to the minimum. It's all about those incremental gains (we might have to retire that phrase soon on the basis that it's getting old and knackered).
We have size 46s here and they're just 476g for the pair – easily the lightest in this size we've ever reviewed on Road.cc. Stu tested the Giro Prolight SLX shoes earlier in the year and they were just 410g the pair - but that was for a size 42. Bontrager reckon a pair of RXXXLs in a 42 are under 398g. In other words, they're very, very lightweight.
The uppers are made from synthetic mesh that's mostly polyurethane (TPU) coated, although the areas above your toes and around the straps are left uncoated so you get ventilation through there. The material is pliable enough to conform to your foot shape and it's easy to keep clean. Wiping it over with a damp cloth gets rid of most dirt in seconds.
The moulded heel cup is rigid enough to hold your foot firmly and what you see is what you get here. It's perforated plastic with no lining inside. That's good for helping to keep your feet cool and shaving off a few more grams although the downside is that road spray can get in easily, and if the weather is cold, so are your feet.
You do get a lining just inside the opening at the top of the heel, and it's anti-slip. The fabric in there feels rough in one direction, the idea being that it helps prevent heel-lift on the upstroke. Shimano, for example, use something similar in some of their shoes. It does seem to add a little extra grip.
The tongue section is simply a wraparound extension of the rest of the upper with foam padding in there to provide comfort. Three Velcro straps take care of closure. They're simple and effective and easy enough to adjust on the fly. The normal (as opposed to the Limited Edition) RXXXL comes with a micro-fit buckle on the top strap if you'd prefer (£219.99).
The soles are carbon with mesh sections underneath the forefoot and heel for extra ventilation and, as we always seem to be saying these days, they're very stiff. Bontrager reckon this is down to their Power Wave Technology. Essentially, they shape the carbon into ridges and troughs through the centre of the foot to keep things rigid. Whether it's down to that I couldn't tell you, but these don't flex or twist in use. After several weeks, the grip on the heel is looking a bit tatty but the sole itself is totally unscathed.
The danger with paring shoes down to a minimum is that you'll remove all the comfort but I've not found that a problem here. I'd say these are a pretty standard fit and they immediately felt good. There's not loads of padding but there's enough and it's well placed, while the ventilation I've mentioned works well to keep your feet cool when riding hard in hot weather. I have shoes that are more comfortable, but they're not as lightweight as the RXXXLs. It all depends on your priority.
Of course, the correct fit is vital for comfort and Bontrager help there by offering a range of sizes from Euro 40 to 47, including half sizes from 41.5 to 45.5.
Believe it or not, these are available in red for £20 cheaper.
Superlight race shoes with a decent level of comfort thrown in.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager RXXXL Limited Edition 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, "For athletes who demand the pinnacle of performance, the Race XXX Lite Limited Edition stands ready to deliver. Incredibly lightweight. Extremely efficient. Designed to wrap your foot in slipper-like comfort. The XXX LE uses a ZeroXS design to pack maximum performance into a minimalist package. Strap them on and Upgrade to the new faster you."
There's no reason why they should be exclusively race shoes, of course, but their pared down design and extremely light weight mean they're certainly performance orientated.
I have shoes with more plushness built in but these are certainly comfortable enough - no worries on that score.
You can get decent shoes at half the price or less, but this isn't a bad price considering the materials, weight and technology.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're the lightest shoes I've ever ridden in, yet they manage to be reasonably comfortable too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The light weight and the fact that sole stiffness and decent levels of comfort have been retained while the grams have been shed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
On the whole, I prefer a ratchet closure, although that would obviously add a little weight.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? If I was after ultra light weight and good comfort.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,