Bont Zero shoes  £390.00

8/10

Very light, mouldable race shoes that are as stiff and efficient as any we've ever used

Weight 502g   Contact  www.saddleback.co.uk

by Mat Brett   November 1, 2012  

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The Bont Zeros are lightweight, mouldable top-level shoes that are as stiff and efficient as we've ever used.

The Zeros are the shoes that Bradley Wiggins wore for his wins in this year's Tour de France and Olympic time trial – not that they'll necessarily deliver you the same success, but it proves that they can cut it at the very highest level.

The outsoles are made from 100% carbon fibre which extends well around the sides of your feet and into the uppers. There's another 4cm of carbon that you can't see around the heel cup, for example, so each foot sits in something like a little carbon bathtub. Those soles are a distinctive shape – much closer to that of your foot than most with a shaped arch support – and the forefoot is quite broad.

The soles are mega-thin; the stack height is just 3.6mm and the lack of material helps keep the weight down (see below). The low stack height is certainly noticeable. You'll probably have to drop your saddle height a few millimetres.

Despite being so slim, the soles are incredibly stiff. These things just do not flex or twist. Heel and toe sole guards do their job pretty well and they're replaceable should you wear them out over time. The sole is fully heat mouldable and that's an idiot-proof job in the kitchen.

The uppers are really unusual. For a start, they're made from laminated silver glass fibre. It's not as supple as some materials but it's very light and it's bonded in place rather than stitched.

The next curious feature is that the Zeros have a lace closure. That allows you to get the precise tightness you want – well, you know how laces work! – but it does mean that on-the-fly adjustments are more difficult than with ratchets, dials or Velcro straps.

Then, of course, there's that flap over the top of the laces. It's designed to keep everything looking neat and to improve aerodynamics. It's held in place by a large Velcro tab so it always stays where it should.

We have size 47s here, which equate to a size 46 in everyone else's sizing, and they weighed in at 502g the pair. The Bontrager RXXXL's that we reviewed recently  were just a touch lighter.

In use, the Zeros felt good. Once moulded, the soles fitted my feet really well, the bathtub shaping providing plenty of support without being restrictive. It was especially noticeable when I was standing on the pedals and throwing the bike around; your feet can't slip over the sides of the sole and push the uppers out like they can with some shoes.

I get on really well with Bont's forefoot shaping too. Your toes can spread out just a little more than in most shoes. If you have broader feet and struggle to get a good fit elsewhere, give them a go.

The lace closure takes a bit of getting used to. Like most people, I occasionally fine-tune the fit of my shoes on the go but you can't do that here. I actually got around it by using a triathlon-style lace lock that worked well. Then I could easily slacken them off a bit if they felt too tight without the need to stop.

The insoles aren't very deep but they provide effective cushioning. There's plenty of comfort there. The uppers, as I said before, aren't especially supple. They feel firm compared to some so I didn't find these quite as comfortable as the Bont Vaypors, for example, but there's no doubt that they'll stay in place. For that reason, rather than using the Zeros every day I'd be keeping these for racing only – especially considering the price.

Verdict

Very light, mouldable race shoes that are as stiff and efficient as any we've ever used.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bont Zero shoes

Size tested: 47, silver

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?

Bont say the Zero is, "Built to be a climb specific shoe, but strong enough to be the choice of sprint specialist and time trialist's in the pro peloton.

"The Bont "Zero" model cycling shoe combines all our technical knowledge into one state of the art racing shoe designed specifically for the art of climbing, but to be just as much at home on flat roads.

"The Bont Zero is handmade and has a 100% carbon monocoque chassis with a laminated silver fiberglass upper. Our carbon layup techniques have been further refined through testing to reduce the effective weight of the shoe without compromising its structural integrity and performance."

They're pro-level shoes, essentially – as demonstrated by the fact that Wiggo used them to win the Tour de France.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The sole is a unidirectional carbon construction with a cosmetic layer on the top.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

All good. The uppers are bonded in place – there's very little stitching here – but don't let that put you off. It's all neat and strong.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Very light, very stiff – just what you want. The only question mark is whether you'll be happy with a lace closure.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

After several weeks of hard use, everything is as good as new apart from a few little cosmetic scuffs on the outsoles.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10

I didn't find these quite as comfortable as the Bont Vaypors but the fact that you can mould them to your feet means you'll get an excellent fit.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Oh, I don't know. These are far and away the most expensive shoes we've ever reviewed. I'm guessing you'll make your own mind up on whether they're worth it or not.

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

If you're after lightweight and stiffness, you'll do well to find better.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Mouldability and those super-stiff soles.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price, obviously. On the whole, I'd rather go with a strap, dial or ratchet closure for more on-the-fly adjustability.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? If I had a big wedge of cash burning a hole in my pocket.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

10 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I love the way all these top end shoes claim to be "hand made" when they're clearly not. Unless pressing the on button on the various machines required counts as hand made. I actually do make bespoke, handmade shoes for a living and if these truly were handmade they'd cost at least 10 times this amount owing to the time needed to hand cut, shape, mould etc all the distinct parts.

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
1st November 2012 - 21:55

6 Likes

They're cheap too, might pick up a Winter pair and a Summer pair .... just for fun ... Smile

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [301 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 9:55

3 Likes

Nick T wrote:
I love the way all these top end shoes claim to be "hand made" when they're clearly not. Unless pressing the on button on the various machines required counts as hand made. I actually do make bespoke, handmade shoes for a living and if these truly were handmade they'd cost at least 10 times this amount owing to the time needed to hand cut, shape, mould etc all the distinct parts.

do you make cycling shoes? love to see some Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7506 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 10:18

5 Likes

Nick T wrote:
I love the way all these top end shoes claim to be "hand made" when they're clearly not. Unless pressing the on button on the various machines required counts as hand made. I actually do make bespoke, handmade shoes for a living and if these truly were handmade they'd cost at least 10 times this amount owing to the time needed to hand cut, shape, mould etc all the distinct parts.

Plug your website then so we can have a look! Big Grin Ten times? I'd love to see a pair of £4k shoes...

As for the article, obligatory:

How f***ing much? I could buy a car for that, etc...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 10:29

4 Likes

Haha, I don't make any cycling shoes unfortunately, there's no way they'd be light enough or stiff enough compared to what's possible with modern manufacturing. A nice pair of all leather, retro style shoes would be possible and putting cleat screws into the leather soles wouldn't be a problem either as its something we do for golf spikes, but they would lack in outright performance. They'd fit beautifully though.

I'm not really into plugging on the web so I'll avoid that, but the end of the market I work in is basically for shoes as Savile Row is for suits. £3-4k would be a price for calfskin, if you've got a love of the exotic you might consider a nice bit of crocodile...

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 10:40

4 Likes

Nick T wrote:
I'm not really into plugging on the web so I'll avoid that, but the end of the market I work in is basically for shoes as Savile Row is for suits. £3-4k would be a price for calfskin, .

Nick T - off subject apologizes but just out of curiosity how many pairs would you sell a month (how the other 1% live Surprise )

posted by bfslxo [129 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 12:02

4 Likes

Hard to say how many per month because it varies so much and we have clients based all around the world, but this week I think we've taken perhaps 20-30 orders. That's been a decent week, next week could be quieter. There's a lot of people involved in the process though, with 4 main, distinct stages of work which require specialist craftsmanship. About 8 people have a hand in each pair in total.

Seems an extravagance I know, but in a world where people spend £10,000 on Bond Street for a handbag off the shelf every day, it's not so bad Wink

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 12:17

3 Likes

I agree with Nick T. These clearly aren't handmade or bespoke in the sense of his high-end shoe production. But why are some companies embarrassed by the idea of something being machine made? After all, machines, which have basically driven industrialisation allow us to produce products of excellent (and consistent) quality available at a decent price.

What Bont really mean is that they are machine made with extensive human quality control and oversight. Nothing wrong with that in my view.

posted by jackh [108 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 13:54

4 Likes

If you're interested in Bont's manufacturing methods...

http://www.bont.com/cycling/items/technology/manufacturing.html

posted by Mat Brett [1959 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 14:01

3 Likes

jackh wrote:
But why are some companies embarrassed by the idea of something being machine made? After all, machines, which have basically driven industrialisation allow us to produce products of excellent (and consistent) quality available at a decent price.

It's a catchy buzzword that implies some form of enhanced quality, when in actual fact it's the modern construction methods and automation that makes a product as good for a specific purpose as these are. You simply cannot replicate it without machinery, it's like comparing a hand made Bristol to an F1 car.

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
2nd November 2012 - 16:11

2 Likes

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