Bontrager XXX Road Shoes: Refined top-end performance

Ridden, trained, raced with and won in, the Bontrager XXX Road shoe is the one stop shop f…

Ridden, trained, raced with and won in, the Bontrager XXX Road shoe is the one stop shop for the riders of Trek-Segafredo’s men’s and women’s outfits. Cyclist slides into a pair of the refined top-of-the-line offering.

Words and photos: Cyclist

The Bontrager XXX Road shoes form a staple part of the equipment offering within the men’s and women’s outfits of Trek-Segafredo and has been refined once again for the 2019 season.

Richie Porte, the King of Willunga and former world champion Lizzie Diegnan along with their respective teammates, train and race in the new XXX model. While a number of professional riders manage their own shoe deals at other teams, over at Trek, this doesn’t appear to be the case. A thorough search through Trek-Segafredo’s social feeds highlights the XXX shoe in nearly every post. It’s either a perfectly curated feed or it’s possible every rider on the squad simply finds a model, likely from the XXX range, right for them.

For the uninitiated, Bontrager isn’t your usual house brand, Keith [Bontrager] was originally renowned for his premium frames before being acquired by Trek in the mid 1990’s. Having enjoyed huge growth following the purchase, along with Gary Fisher and Klein, Bontrager frames were slowly phased out before becoming key to Trek components and accessories bundle. Sadly, you won’t find a Bontrager frame in the Trek family anymore but his mantra remains strong within the brand name across nearly every Trek-related accessory.

Strong, light, cheap… pick two. It’s the classic phrase coined by Keith and while well-worn, it holds true throughout the Trek range and Bontrager lineup.

XXX rated

Featuring a refined design, OCLV carbon sole – Trek’s patented carbon fibre process – dual BOA retention system and supple upper construction, the XXX Road shoes feel light from the moment you pull them out of the box. At a scant 245g per shoe (size EU41), the XXX hits the mark on the scales too, bringing them on par with Specialized’s S-Works 7 and Bont’s Vaypor S or Helix while the Shimano S-Phyre is a touch heavier but not by much. To put it in perspective, the recently reviewed Rapha Classics come in closer to 600g. At this end of the market, in this size, you’ll find a range of circa-500g shoes with all offering respective maximum stiffness ratings too. Bontrager stamp the XXX with a level 14 stiffness rating out of a possible 14. They’re stiff.

Where the XXX impresses the most, with shoe in hand, is the attention to detail in the construction. Every seam, stitch and fold appears to be meticulously handled in a way you don’t see with every pair of cycling shoes. Of course, there’s far more important assets at stake when you’re staring down the barrel of potentially a few years in the same shoes but if first impressions are anything to go by, the Bontrager XXX puts its best foot forward. The sleek and low profile design, especially for someone conscious that cycling shoes sometimes aren’t the most flattering (for a woman), is an extra bonus.

For those familiar with the previous XXX Road incarnation, you can find them here where you’ll notice a few significant changes. Gone is the lower Velcro strap because really, BOA dials have been refined so much that shoes can be constructed in a way to make a lower strap more or less redundant. Having said that, I still appreciate having the double dial to provide a little more control compared to a single BOA.

The revised TPU upper now takes on more of an off-centre enclosure with a “Superior Form TX lace routing system” that brings the entire shoe around the foot, as opposed to simply squishing it in place. The result is a more comfortable and tuneable fit that also allows the toe area to be left more open for ventilation and wiggle room. They do feel snug to put on – there isn’t a huge foot inlet – but once in, there is a good compromise between support and room. I usually run an the Bontrager InForm BioDynamic Insole and on the first ride did notice my big toe touching the roof but this feeling didn’t last long. They’ve already stretched a touch. I do commend these shoes for being ready and comfortable from the get go – no heat moulding required or weeks of breaking in.

Easy breazy

Having pulled these on during the winter months, the 360-degree perforations aren’t just for good looks. These things breathe! While I found toe warmers used a little more than usual this season, I’m quietly confident that come summer, the extra breathability will be extremely welcome. A glance at the sole of the shoe furthers the point with a number of cut-outs bringing a huge amount of air into the shoe. For those who already suffer in the cold, you’ll do well do consider a pair of appropriate toe or shoe covers during the cooler months and while it’ll hide the sparkling white finish, you’ll also keep them schmick for when the sun allows the layers to be shed.

The back of the shoe also gets some extra attention with a new outer heel cup and anti-slip lining ensuring your foot remains exactly where it needs to be, further reducing the chance of rubbing. Inside, you’ll find Bontrager’s standard inForm footbed which can be further tuned through Bontrager dealers who stock the range of inForm BioDynamic insoles. The slight elevation of the heel from the insole does make my foot feel a little less secure but this didn’t translate to any noticeable difference on the bike.

It’s clear Trek and Bontrager has committed to a shoe program that’s far from an after thought and the latest XXX Road model has taken the strongest features from its previously renowned model and made it sleeker and more comfortable while ensuring it meets the demands of the sport’s most high-performing athletes.

Bontrager XXX Road shoes stats

Price: $499
Construction: 100% OCLV carbon sole, TPU upper
Cleat compatibility: Three-hole Shimano/Look, Speedplay with adapter
Weight: 245g per shoe (size EU41)
Stiffness: 14 of 14 (Bontrager index)
Sizes: EU36-48
Colours: White/Black or Trek White/Navy
Extras included: Shoe bag
More details and where to buy: Trek Bicycles

 

Comments