Bontrager RL MTB Shoes Pro Review

Pro Reviews Shoes

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Model: Bontrager RL MTB Shoes
Size: 42
Tester: Robert aka Pineapplebob Myint, 5’6”, 140lbs
Months tested: 3
Sizes: 39-49 Euro 6.5-14.5 US
MSRP: $139.00
Website: http://bontrager.com/model/07810

Features:
• Mid-level mountain shoe offers rugged all-day performance in an affordable package
• Bronze Series Carbon sole for stiffness and excellent power transfer
• Simple and intuitive two straps plus buckle design for ease of use
• Reinforced toe box for protection and durability
• External molded heel cup prevents heel-slip and provides ventilation
• Direct-inject TPU lugs feature a durometer optimized for superior off-bike traction
• Built using Bontrager’s standard volume inForm Pro SV last
• eSoles premium insole for optimal fit and support

From the Bontrager website:

“With cycling shoes, the perfect fit is essential to enjoying the ride. That’s why Bontrager shoes are designed using inForm technology—proprietary features that offer almost every cyclist optimal support and fit no matter their riding style or foot structure. Unlike other cycling shoes, inForm models can accept any insole—including custom orthotics—without compromising fit. Their unique construction allows for near-custom adjustability from heel to toe for unmatched comfort mile after mile.”

Once again, the folks at MTBR.com have graciously entrusted me with a product test, this time a pair a brand spanking new Bontrager RL MTB shoes. It’s always exciting when a package arrives at your door for you – especially when it has something to do with mountain biking!


Initial impression…

I ripped open the package like an overzealous kid at his birthday party and the contents spilled onto the garage floor. “Wow” I thought, cool-looking shoes, silver uppers with an orange plaid trim around the ankle. They seemed reasonably light weight and the three strap system looked typical – two Velcro straps and one buckle-type strap. Also in the package were the optional toe cleats and the tool for tightening them.

The setup was typical for most cycling shoes; just attach your cleats – I use good old SPD’s and adjust the position. I also installed the optional cleats.

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As far as fit goes, I used to work in a running shoe store, so I know that just because you wear a 42 euro in one brand of shoe, that doesn’t guarantee the next pair of 42’s will fit exactly the same. But these were true to size initially. The fit was pretty good and the foot bed felt comfortable and supportive. I have wide feet, and the volume of the toe box was roomy enough that my feet had some wiggle room. The tab on the tongue was soft enough that I didn’t really notice it against my ankle. You could still see the orange plaid on the ankle area – cool.

After clipping in, I tweaked my cleat placement until it felt right. Got dressed, grabbed my two dogs, and started pedaling to the trail by my house. It’s a gravel road leading up to a waterfall with a “little” climb about half way through, but it’s only about a 5 mile round trip. The shoes felt good, and the power transfer was pretty solid through the carbon soles. Climbing out of the saddle, the shoes felt solid and I made my way up the climb. The last 50 yards require a hike-a-bike over some roots and rocks to get to the falls, and the lugged outsoles provided adequate traction. The shoes are made for all-day riding, so they provide just enough flex for short hikes.

So initially, the shoes worked well. They were light, comfortable, supportive, stiff and easy to put on and take off.

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  • francois says:

    Nice review Robert. It seems like Bontrager has stepped up their game in shoes and in other components!

    I’ve used the shoe too for the past 6 months. I love it. It’s light, efficient and supportive. The included ESoles sole seems like a good value too. I once bought one of those soles for $200 custom fit. My only issue is the arch support seems high and aggressive. It offers good support but I feel some discomfort after a long ride.

  • Casey says:

    Love the shoes,very comfortable. I have 6 months/600 miles with them,I ride in the mountains in Montana and the sandstone trials around my hometown of Billings. The only flaw I have experienced is no gription on hard surface, like the sandstone, if the bottom of was a little softer it would be perfect.

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