Providing one of the key contact points when riding in terms of performance and comfort, choosing the right cycling shoes is an important but not necessarily straightforward task.
Combining low weight with a stable, stiff pedalling platform is one of the main goals for cycling shoe manufacturers. Making this package affordable simply adds another complex challenge to the design and marketing process. As Keith Bontrager is often quoted in relation to bike designs, “Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.”
Well respected shoes such as the Fizik R1B Uomo, Specialized S-Works 6 or Giro Empire SLX all boast carbon fibre soles with a sub-300g weight but cost in excess of £200. Possibly proving the point that performance comes at a price?
Maybe not. The Bont Riot Road Shoe combines carbon fibre construction with a weight of 280g; all in a package costing less than £80*. Whether a case of grandiose claims from a manufacturer or a genuine bargain, this appeared to be an interesting choice of footwear for a long-term test
With a wide frontal area, the Bont Riot is designed to accommodate the forefoot and toes without the uncomfortable narrowing that other brands adopt. Having previously struggled with this tapered approach, I found the extra room a significant factor in determining ride comfort. Especially on hillier routes with a fair amount of climbing.
Riding in the Pyrenees in temperatures exceeding 30°C, the mesh inserts in the microfibre upper coupled with the toe ventilation holes prevented any over-heating. The shoe was equally practical in winter when worn with an overshoe to keep the elements at bay.
Although the sole is not a full carbon construction – layers of composite are used in high stress areas sandwiched between fiberglass – it has an attractive, almost translucent finish that compliments the microfibre upper. Couple this with a heat mouldable innersole and an anatomically shaped heel cup, then comfort is a key feature of this Bont design.
In terms of performance, while not offering class-leading levels of stiffness, I never felt that power transfer was compromised. The Bont Riot excelled as a climbing shoe where the lack of weight and all-day comfort were much appreciated. During sudden accelerations on a club ride, the shoes were more than equal to the task; never giving a sensation of flex when sprinting out of the saddle.
As for criticisms; this shoe is hard to dislike. When wearing tight-fitting overshoes, the ratchet fastener stands slightly more proud when compared to a Boa ‘rotate to tighten’ design and the front/back split of the black and white version doesn’t quite convince.
Sizing is another issue; especially when buying on the internet. I recommend using the printable chart as this accurately suggested I order a half size larger than my usual shoe size.
But these are minor niggles and over the course of this long-term test the shoe has been a revelation; out-performing designs costing three times the Bont Riot’s asking price.
Lightweight, comfortable and with stylish, understated looks (at least in the all-black version). With an £80 price tag, what’s not to like?
*Price correct on the date of publication.