BONTY BOOTS

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested Product Tests -

COM­PE­TI­TION be­tween brands for your shoe dol­lar is im­mense. It’s easy to spend $400 dol­lars or more on the prom­ise that you’ll no longer suf­fer from hotspots, squished toes, blis­ters, or in­grown toe­nails and you’ll never be em­bar­rassed when you front up for your weekly pedi­cure again.

Keith Bon­trager started mak­ing bi­cy­cle com­po­nents in his garage in the 70s build­ing the brand un­til he sold it to Trek in 1995. But the de­signer is still in­volved in the com­pany, now Trek’s own parts and ac­ces­sories brand, spec­c­ing Trek bikes and rid­ers with ev­ery­thing from han­dle­bars, to tyres, to shoes.

The RL MTB, at $189 dol­lars, is the top women-spe­cific shoe in Bon­trager’s range. It’s hard to say that this shoe is do­ing a whole lot that’s dif­fer­ent, but that also means a re­fresh­ing change from some of the bells and whis­tles used to sell shoes and a bit more at­ten­tion paid to the ba­sics – a very rea­son­able price.

The RL MTB fit me ex­tremely well and the rel­a­tively low stiff­ness in­dex rat­ing of 6 was never a no­tice­able dis­ad­van­tage un­der gen­eral ped­alling or ac­cel­er­a­tion. This is prob­a­bly be­cause the two Vel­cro straps and the low-pro­file ‘Mi­cro-Fit II’ buckle – a well-po­si­tioned ratchet – held my foot very se­curely.

Up un­til a few years ago, top cy­cling shoes were made of leather. This isn’t the case any longer, and at­ten­tion has turned away from the ma­te­rial used to make the up­per to what goes into the sole. The rea­son for this is that the stiffer the sole, the more ef­fi­cient the power trans­fer from your legs to your ped­als.

Car­bon is still the stiffest ma­te­rial around, fol­lowed by a va­ri­ety of com­pos­ites, resins, and plas­tics. The RL’s ‘Bronze Se­ries Com­pos­ite’ sole sits some­where in the mid­dle, made of a Ny­lon com­pound. It won’t re­tain its stiff­ness as long as a car­bon-soled shoe will, but any shoes has only got a life­span of a few years at the. A shoe like the RL has econ­omy on its side. And they’re light – at least as light as car­bon-soled shoes at dou­ble the price.

The RL MTB is mostly black – ex­tremely prac­ti­cal for a shoe whose rai­son d’être is to get dirty – with some at­trac­tive azure trim.

There’s plenty of ven­ti­la­tion, re­mov­able studs, and a long tongue that didn’t slip into the side of the shoe and kept the mud out. My an­kle and feet felt se­cure and sta­ble.

A great fea­ture of these shoes, and one that I’d usu­ally as­so­ciate with more ex­pen­sive mod­els, is that both the buckle and the strap are easy and cheap to re­place – some­thing I’ve had to do twice in the last year be­cause of crashes.

Bon­trager of­fer an ex­cel­lent range of sizes, from Euro­pean 36 to 43, al­though check with your Trek dealer as they may need to or­der your size in for you.

VI­TALS TREK­BIKES.COM/AU $189 HITS RE­PLACE­ABLE STRAPS AND BUCK­LES, GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY, AS LIGHT AS MORE EX­PEN­SIVE SHOES MISSES NOT AS STIFF AS RACE-LEVEL SHOES

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