Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bont Shoes - Good Enough for Wiggo! Are They For You?

I have weird feet. Stupid fat duck feet. Plain and simple. They're wide, short, have high arches and a high instep to boot (see what I did there...) Ahem. This is a bit of a problem for someone keen on cycling. For the last few years I've achieved a mediocre it with Northwave who offer a relatively wide fitting shoe for an Italian maker, but in recent years they have come up much narrower. I found this to my detriment after investing (a lot I might add) in a brand new pair of Evo Tech SBS's. I rode them once and then had to sell them on. The lasts (the mould to which the shoes are built around) have been changed to accommodate a much narrower foot profile than that of my webbed trotters, so it was back to the drawing board for me. I tried them all; Shimano, Specialized, Fizik, DMT, Sidi and Giro to name but a few.

Then I tried a pair of Bont Vaypors on and, well, the rest is history as they say. The first thing that strikes you when you put your first pair of Bonts on is the stiffness. My god they are stiff - it's like clopping around in a set of clogs, making you feel like the little mouse on the stair. This stiff sole means excellent power delivery and spades of support for your feet. Pull them on and they feel a little odd, the uppers are quite stiff, as if there isn't any give in the material. This would normally lead one to assume that the shoes are going to rub, create pressure points and give you all those little niggles that are so commonly associated with ill-fitting shoes. This would certainly be the case if you couldn't mould them to your feet.

Yes folks. You read that correctly. MOULD THEM TO YOUR FEET! This is a tech-head ecstasy and it really couldn't be simpler. Head down to your friendly Pearson Cycles branch in Sutton or Sheen and have the shoes sized and fitted correctly. You then take them home in the rather posh bag that they come supplied with, bung 'em in an oven preheated to 70 degrees, wait 20 minutes, let them cool for a minute or two, put them on, tighten them up and BOOM! These suckers mould to the shape of your feet! What if you don't get it right the first time? Bont have thought of that - you can remould their shoes as many times as you like! So you can say goodbye to hotspots or pressure points, no intrusive seams or joins - it's as if they were made for you...and I suppose to a certain extent they were. When you opt for the top tier Vaypor model they come in standard, narrow and wide options to ensure an optimum fit. These shoes are quite simply brilliant.

So, a little more detail. Naturally the soles are carbon, albeit ultra-stiff, wafer thin carbon so you can get a great feel for the pedals and they give a real sense of efficiency when you put the hammer down. The sole's mouldable heel cup wraps slightly heavier than one would usually expect, ensuring that it stays firmly in place. It also comes up much higher around the sides and front of the foot than other shoes so the front of your foot sits in the sole rather than on top of it. This means that if you have wide feet like Yours Truly, your feet won't 'spill' over the edges - an issue I can certainly say I've experienced in the past which can lead to instability and a reduction in power transfer as well as your shoes potentially splitting along the sides. There are also two rubber protectors on the toe and heel sections which are replaceable with a Philips head screw.

The grid reference on the sole makes cleat setup a doddle. Also note the replaceable toe and heel defenders.

The uppers are constructed from shiny faux leather. This material has proven easy to keep clean and shrugs off road spray with ease. A single Velcro strap, unusually rearward facing to draw your foot back into the shoe, is assisted by a very effective micro-step ratchet which easily allows small increases and decreases in tension over the top of the foot. The toe box is perforated with 34 small holes (yes, I counted them) to aid ventilation for the 3 days of sunshine commonly associated with British summers.

The shiny white faux leather is very easy to keep clean. Also available in black.

Speaking of the toe box, this part of the shoe takes a slightly unorthodox, yet highly logical approach to shoe design. Rather than the traditional winkle picker style they actually follow the form of most human feet. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? It makes perfect sense!!! The toe box is also reinforced with a rubber bumper to protect against any scuffs and scrapes..

The unorthodox, yet highly logical toe box shape. Note the rubber protection

To make things even better the Bont range begins at just £125 for the A-Three. This model offers the same infinitely mouldable system but in a heavier, less stiff format. There is a mid-range A-Two at £175 which introduces a full carbon sole, improving upon the A-Three's stiffness and weight. Bont also offer a plethora of specialist models for use in varying disciplines such as track, MTB and triathlon, including the Zero as used by none other than Bradley Wiggins.

Bont shoes are now available at our Sutton performance and Sheen performance stores. All our staff have knowledge, experience and expertise in fitting (you know, the stuff you can't get online!) Whether it be or a new bike, a pair of shoes, a saddle, helmet, gloves, you name it - fitting is now the biggest focus of our business. Please call ahead to book an appointment on 0208 642 2095.

Written by James Thomas