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Bont's Vaypor S shoes are super-stiff yet they provide an excellent level of comfort... but you do have to stump up a whopping great wad of cash if you want to enjoy them!
The Vaypor shoes have evolved a little since we first reviewed them on road.cc back in 2012, but they're still incredibly stiff.
The soles are handmade from unidirectional Toray carbon fibre and they just don't flex. There are quite a lot of stiff-soled shoes out there these days if you're prepared to pay top-end prices, but the Vaypor S takes things to another level. For what it's worth, Bont claims that the sole boasts the highest strength to weight ratio of any cycling shoe currently available. I don't know if that's true, but I can detect absolutely no flex at all.
Those soles are tub-shaped – they extend up around the sides of your feet, not just at the heel but in all other areas too. It feels like this is providing stability and support as you pedal. The curved-up sides could potentially cause discomfort if your feet pushed hard against them anywhere, but for the fact that the soles are heat mouldable.
Moulding the soles is a relatively simple process: you just heat an oven to 70°C and then put your shoes inside for 20 minutes. After taking them out you can alter the fit of any tight areas with something like the round end of a screwdriver. You can repeat the process as many times as you like. The EVA innersoles are heat mouldable too.
I find the Bont sole particularly comfortable because its distinctive shape is closer to that of my foot than many other shoes, and I suspect the same is true for many other people. I don't feel like anything is being squashed, squeezed or cajoled here, and I've never experienced any hot spots with the Vaypor S. I know this might sound like nonsense, but a lot of shoes simply aren't all that foot shaped! The outline of the Bont sole looks like the outline of a foot, and that makes a lot of sense to me.
The outer sole has heel and toe guards to provide some protection and grip, and a grid on the forefoot makes matching up your cleat positioning a cinch.
The uppers are made from Durolite synthetic material, which looks a lot like leather and wipes clean quickly and easily. Beneath that there's a proprietary material that, Bont says, has 'similar strength characteristics to Kevlar'. I'm not sure whether or not it'll stop bullets, but I do know that it doesn't stretch so your feet are held firmly in place.
Two Boa IP1 dials take care of closure. If you've not used Boas before, they work superbly. You can do them up tight to prevent unwanted foot movement while sprinting, they're super-easy to adjust one-handed from the saddle, and you just pull the dial outwards to release the tension completely. If you smash one up in a crash, it's pretty simple to replace too.
Compared to some shoes the Vaypor S doesn't offer a huge amount of padding, but don't make the mistake of assuming that results in a lack of comfort. There's a small depth of cell memory foam around the top of the opening (the 'collar') and the heel, and the tongue provides cushioning against the Boa dials and laces, and I've found it to be perfectly sufficient.
This foam doesn't retain water, which is good news when you sweat or get caught in the rain – as I did last week in a freaky Italian storm. My feet didn't dry particularly quickly afterwards because I had wet socks, but at least the shoes didn't feel too heavy and they weren't still damp the following morning.
You get ventilation courtesy of holes in the uppers above your toes and across the tongue. There are also vents in the toe bumper and the foot arch. You can certainly get shoes that offer more ventilation via mesh panels, though, if that's something you particularly need.
You might think that this is a gushing review, but Bont's Vaypor S shoes are something special. You can get lighter shoes and you can get ones with more ventilation, but these are stiff-soled, supportive, secure and very comfortable. Too bad they're not cheap as well.
Super-stiff, supportive and comfortable road shoes, the only hurdle being the big price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bont Vaypor S
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?
Bont says, "Lighter, Stronger, Faster.
"Designed for speed and comfort.
"The Vaypor S once again redefines the standards of pro level road cycling shoes. Our latest flagship shoe has been further refined to improve on our already industry leading standards. Wether you are a pro racer or simply a rider who demands the finest, the Vaypor S will provide the most anatomically and biomechanically correct platform with the most efficient power transfer platform currently available."
These are top-level shoes for performance-minded riders.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bont gives a lot of information behind its design at http://www.bontcycling.com/products/road/vaypor-s/index.htm Check it out to see if you're convinced by the brand's technical reasoning.
Bont lists these tech specs:
Material Unidirectional Carbon Monocoque Chassis with Durolite Upper and Faux Seude Leather Liner
Stack Height 3.6 mm
Air Vents Frontal area air vents and air gills in arch area
Innersole EVA thermo-mouldable
Sole Guards Replaceable heel guard
Padding Memory Foam
Cleat Mounting MM grid plus grip / 3 Hole Look Configuration
Fit Customisation Fully Heat Mouldable Chassis utilising Epoxy Thermoset Resin
Closing Options Dual Dial Retention System with Kevlar wiring
Color Options White, Black, Black/White
Sizing Option Stock, Wide & Narrow Fit, Full Custom
Everything is very well made using high-quality materials, such as the Durolite upper, Toray carbon-fibre sole, Boa dials...
They're stiff, secure, supportive and comfortable.
They stand up to regular use very well. I've not crashed in these, thankfully, but I've hit the deck in a previous version of the Vaypor and the damage was no more or less than you'd expect with other shoes.
The forefoot feels less tight than you get with some other shoes, so your toes can move. The heat mouldable aspect of the design isn't a gimmick; it works and it's relatively easy if you follow the instructions.
I took the same size here as I do with other brands. You can get wide fits in some sizes.
Yes, these are very expensive shoes, but check out the materials used (see above) and the performance.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's easy to wipe them clean after wet/dirty rides. You can get grit in the vent holes but it comes out with a bit of effort.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These shoes perform superbly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The super-stiff sole and the level of comfort on offer.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is, um, challenging. Don't get me wrong, the Vaypor S works hard to justify the cost, but you have to say that £300+ is a lot of money to spend on cycling shoes.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I was going to spend £300+ on any cycling shoes it would be these.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The performance is so good that even a £325 price tag can't stop these getting a 9.
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.