review

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe

8
£299.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Understated, comfortable top-end performance shoes
Comfortable
Micro-adjustable Boas
Asymmetric design reduces pressure points
Durable
Not cheap
Weight: 
520g

The Bontrager XXX Road Shoes have a lot to live up to. Not only did the previous models get a glowing review from Mat but there's also the hefty price tag and fierce competition in the high-end shoe market. Bontrager says that the XXX Road Shoe is "for the road racer who wants the absolute best in comfort, performance and style". Over the testing period I have been really impressed with their comfort, performance and looks. I might not describe them as absolute best, but they're certainly very good.

The asymmetric upper, along with the dual Boa system, wraps around the foot, holding it securely in place, and is surprisingly supple for a material that also feels this robust. The material is so durable, in fact, that it's also used on the XXX Mountain Bike shoes, and has evaded marking despite being under overshoe zips and being subjected to toe-overlap for the last month (when your toes touch the front tyre while turning sharply or track standing).

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy these online here

The combination of the overlapping/sideways tongue design and dual Boa closure system manages to reduce hot spots, and the lack of seams means there are few locations for pressure to be a problem. Many racers will ride with their shoes looser and only tighten them for the sprint to save discomfort; Bontrager's design, though, results in comfort for mile after mile, meaning they can be ridden tight with no discomfort for the entire ride.

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - heels.jpg

With their secure fit and stiff sole (14/14 on Bontrager's own scale), power transfer feels direct and certainly didn't hinder out-of-the-saddle max-effort signpost sprints. This is by no means to say that they are unforgiving – on long rides they were some of the most comfortable shoes I've worn.

This is also partly down to the ergonomically shaped heel cup. The heel supports the foot well and is more padded than on some – the DMT KR1 or Giro Imperial shoes, for example.

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - rear.jpg

The sole features three vents – two at the toes and one on the arch of the foot with a metal-mesh lining on each.

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - sole toe.jpg
Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - sole.jpg

The ventilated theme continues upstairs with the TPU upper adorned with laser-cut perforations which are most predominant on the toe-box and side gloss panels. Although they didn't feel like the breeziest shoes, this ventilation did a good job of keeping my feet comfortable during hot turbo sessions, which bodes well for hot weather riding.

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - toe.jpg

At 520g, the Bontragers weigh about what I'd expect from a set of top-end shoes and this has been achieved without being detrimental to stiffness or comfort. This puts them on a par with other top tier offerings, for example the S-Works 7 shoes, which weigh a smidge more at 536g, the 521g Giro Imperials and 542g Shimano S-Phyre RC9s.

One element that I particularly liked on the Bontragers – though it's not reserved to them – is the quick release Boa dials: a sharp tug on the Boa releases all tension and then your foot can simply be pulled out. It's a feature that I wish my S-Works 7s had.

Bontrager XXX Road Shoe - BOA dial.jpg

During the testing period I stuck with the relatively thin standard insoles, but it's worth noting that Bontrager also offers medium and high arch support 'InForm' insoles that'll set you back a further 25 quid. I'd class my feet as fairly average and so too the shoes: they felt neither wide nor narrow.

Replacement Boas and heel studs are also available. In the case of the heel stud, the bolt is on the outside of the shoe, something to be aware of – with my last pair they were corroded beyond belief by the time they actually need changing.

Value and conclusion

Although expensive, they're similarly priced to other brands' top-end shoes. My favourite shoes at the moment, the S-Works 7s, have a higher RRP of £340 but you do get fancy metal Boas on these and they can now be found quite a lot cheaper in certain colours. Shimano's S-Phyre RC9, which I mentioned above, and Fizik's Infinito R1 Knit top-end shoes are more expensive too, though the Bont Vaypor S, which Mat tested back in 2017, and Rapha Pro Team shoes are cheaper.

> Buyer’s Guide: 18 of the best performance road shoes

The most impressive thing for me over the testing period has been the overall comfort of these shoes, which is surprising given their racing pedigree. The Bontrager XXX Road shoes strike a nice balance between lightweight and everyday usability. If you like the understated looks and aren't put off by the price, they're a really nice pair of shoes and won't disappoint.

Verdict

Understated, comfortable top-end performance shoes

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager XXX Road Shoe

Size tested: 43

Tell us what the product is for

Bontrager says, "For the road racer who wants the absolute best in comfort, performance and style."

After a month or so of testing, I've been impressed with the luxurious materials and construction of the shoes which has made them comfortable to wear even during long rides.

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

From Bontrager:

InForm Pro last delivers an ergonomically optimised, high-performance fit

100% OCLV carbon sole is extremely lightweight and stiff for efficient power transfer

Dual, independent Boa IP1 dials for precise, zone-specific fit adjustments

Lightweight and luxurious TPU upper material for supportive comfort and perfect perforation pattern for breathability

Stiffness index 14 of 14 (On Bontrager's own scale)

Asymmetrical design and superior lace routing system reduces top-of-foot pressure while providing a more secure fit

External heel cups and no-slip heel lining prevent slippage and chafing while reacting to your movements more quickly

The ergonomic inForm footbed is engineered for all-day comfort and support

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Really comfortable, but didn't feel quite as racy as other top-end shoes such as S-Works 7.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Although light, the TPU upper seems very resilient to scuffing and wear and tear. Replaceable heel studs and Boas should extend product life.

Rate the product for fit:
 
9/10

I found the fit really good. Comfort was impressive for a stiff lightweight shoe.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

I normally wear a 43, these are a 43 and fitted well, maybe a tiny tiny bit smaller than other brands. Bontrager doesn't offer half sizes like some brands.

Rate the product for weight:
 
9/10

Although light, it's not at the expense of comfort or padding like in some super-lightweight shoes.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10

The asymmetric design alleviates pressure points and the dual Boa system means they're easy to secure.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

They are top dollar but no more than other top-end shoes (and less than some), and are comfortable and lightweight, which goes some way to justifying the price. If you judge your kit on pounds per km, spending on shoes is one of the better areas especially when they're this well made and durable.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

The TPU upper is easy to wipe clean with baby wipes or a flannel to keep it looking fresh. The lack of mesh panels means they won't stain and should look newer for longer.

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

They performed well for both fast riding and the less intensive stuff. For racing, it's a close call but personally I'd still go for my S-Works 7s but for long rides, I'd choose the Bontragers.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Mile after mile comfort.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price, and the understated looks are a little too understated for my taste.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Although expensive, they're similarly priced to other brands' top-end shoes. My favourite shoes at the moment, the S-Works 7s, have a higher RRP of £340 although they can now be found quite a lot cheaper in certain colours. Shimano's and Fizik's top-end shoes are more expensive too, though the Bont Vaypor S and Rapha Pro Team shoes are cheaper.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I'd consider it... more so if there was a more flashy option.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

A very comfortable pair of shoes made from high-quality materials, and though the price is undoubtedly high, it compares well against some rivals.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Latest Comments