If you use SPD pedals and you're looking for good all-round shoes then the Bontrager Rhythms are certainly worth a look. Designed as mountain bike enduro race shoes they're a good option for road riding on SPD pedals, with a comfortable fit and good performance on and off the bike.
The upper features a reinforced toe box and heel, and there are also anti-scuff panels along the outside of the shoe. You get two Velcro straps and a ratchet buckle to perfect the fit, and they give a good range of adjustment; sizing wise I'm normally a 47 and the 47s supplied fitted just fine. The sole is a carbon-reinforced nylon base with a generous tread of lime green rubber. The cleat is recessed enough that it doesn't clack on hard surfaces too much, and the Rhythms are very accommodating off the bike. The sole is fairly stiff but the sole plate and rubber grip have enough give to make walking feel natural.
On the bike the Rhythms are very good too. Different shoes suit different foot types, but I found the inForm Pro shape that Bontrager use for this shoe to be very supportive. The inner arch is raised enough to spread the load across the foot, but not so much that is puts too much pressure on your instep, and the sole is stiff enough to transfer pedal effort efficiently. The Rhythm doesn't have the super-solid feel of a race shoe, but for anything other than racing it's plenty stiff enough for the job. I've completed 100km+ rides in them with no discomfort and no feeling that I was losing out. They're heavier than a race shoe, but they're not so heavy that it's noticeable, and the fact that they're nice and comfortable means I forgave them being a bit weightier.
In the wet the lack of ventilation mostly meant that my feet mostly stayed dry, although there's a vent on top of the toe box that can let in water. The Rhythms are compact enough that my road overshoes fitted over them fine, with a bit of persuasion. With a cover on they're also warm enough for riding in fairly cold conditions; they're not heavily insulated but nor are they heavily vented. In hot summer conditions they'd probably get a bit sweaty. I didn't get to put that theory to the test, sadly.
Overall they're comfortable and well-designed shoes. You could go out on most types of ride in them, including, obviously, mountain bike rides as well as road excursions. As dependable shoes for a range of riding, they're certainly worth your consideration.
Mountain bike enduro shoes that work well as all-purpose SPD shoes for road rides too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Rhythm shoes
Size tested: 47
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?
Ready to handle whatever your technical trail experience can deliver. Up, down, and everything in between, the new Rhythm is great for enduro racing. Tough, light and aggressive, with a low-profile ratchet buckle and full Tachyon rubber lugs. And no one will miss you as you blow by them, thanks to a bright flash of day-glow on the lugs.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
inForm Pro last - Ergonomically optimized high-performance fit
Carbon-reinforced internal nylon plate with full Tachyon rubber outsole
Low-profile precision ratcheting buckle
Stiffness index 7
GnarGuard - Outer protection against trail brush and debris for durability
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit is good, construction is durable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not entirely sold on the colour.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.