Bontrager RLX Shoes
Go to the Bontrager website and you’ll see an updated version of the RXL mountain bike shoe. While there is a newer version of the RXL on the way, it won’t be available Down Under until much later in 2012.
We’ve had these still-current RXLs on test for the best part of six months. The carbon sole looks pretty battered and the uppers are now more of a beige colour than white, but overall they are faring quite well for what is essentially aMTBrace shoe. There’s just enough tread on the sole to get you by for occasional walking but first and foremost, these shoes are made for pedalling.
At 781g a pair (size 42) they are not super light. However they do have an extremely stiff sole and an elaborately designed innersole. Made by a company called eSoles, the footbeds offer really good arch support and a pronounced metatarsal pad that helps to spread your toes to relieve that ‘hot-foot’ sensation that you may encounter on really long rides. The footbed features a modular design that’s actually customisable with different ‘e-Fit’ arch supports available via the Australian eSoles distributor (www.esoles.com.au).
Fit is always a personal matter and the same size will vary widely from one brand to the next. Compared to others, the Bontragers seem to offer a fairly average heel with a high-volume forefoot. The toe box itself offers sufficient height for toe wiggling but it’s not massive. With plenty of sheer volume and compliant predominantly mesh uppers, they should offer plenty of flexibility and expand to accommodate fairly wide feet. My feet are not wide but I didn’t have any issues wearing them as the heel cup did a great job of holding my foot steady.
The only issues I had were related to the closure mechanism. I felt the two front straps are on the small side and they don’t offer much contact area for the Velcro. Toss in a bunch of mud on a really filthy ride and they’ll intermittently pop open. No such problems with the main click-lock ratchet closure, although the multi-position mounting point on the inside of the shoe managed to scuff up the cranks of every bike that I’ve ridden. It’s only likely to pose a problem if you tend to ride heels-in or pronate a lot when pedalling hard, but the hard plastic anchor point does stick out more than more simplistic strap systems.
At $299 they are reasonably priced for carbon-soledMTBshoes. They have a well designed and fantastically supportive footbed, great ventilation, a super stiff sole and are definitely worth a look if you need a shoe with some extra volume in the forefoot area.
TrekAustralia(02) 6173 2400 / www.bontrager.com