My old shoes have died. They were lightweight, XC and absolutely knackered. I am neither particularly lightweight nor XC, so was delighted to be given the opportunity try something a bit different, the Bontrager Rally.
The styling is not something that I would have normally chosen, with laces and a Velcro over-strap to keep things tidy. The first thing I noticed when picking them up was the weight, or rather lack of it. 450g each including cleat, about the same as my regular trainers, compared to 420g for their “racy” predecessors. There are some nice styling details, the orange printing and the rectangular lace holes in particular have a bit of an “oooh” factor about them. However, if the strap was 30mm longer it would cover the Velcro on the shoe body which would a) Make them look even better and b) Stop bits of fluff, grass seeds and other rubbish sticking to them. As these aren’t exactly cheap I’m sure that they could have spent a few more pence on this.
The uppers are a synthetic that looks like rubber, but isn’t, with bumpers front and rear. The soles are stiff, but not carbon XC stiff, with little in the way of tread so pushing up a muddy slope could provide a few moments of hilarity for your cycling mates.
Ventilation is via the meshed fabric of the tongue as the body of the shoe is solid apart from a handful of curious little holes, more of which later. On the inside there is plenty of cushioning and the tongue is held in place by an elasticated strip to stop it wandering off to the side, but it doesn’t act as a barrier to dirt or water ingress.
In the three months that I’ve had these shoes it hasn’t rained significantly – Not something I’d ever thought of say being a resident of Manchester! In fact, when I first submitted this review Hannah asked me what they were like in the wet, to which my answer was “Dunno”. However, the very next weekend it tipped down, so I set aside my usual lockdown activities of reluctant DIY, playing boardgames badly and starting arguments, and went on a ride as requested. To answer the question: they let in water, lots of water. The near solid uppers are OK up to a point at keeping your feet dry when riding in wet grass, but as soon as it gets too long or you hit a puddle that splashes over the tongue it is getting in and staying there. The curious holes mentioned earlier act like little drains, as an hour after I had got back I was still squelching out water through them. Twenty four hours later they were still soaking, even after spending few hours exposed to the sun and wind on top of the shed roof. Not something that would put me off the shoe to be honest, as my old pair were just as bad, it is just that the look of these to me suggested that they would be better. On a particularly wet day if it was cold I’d wear an overshoe.
The quality of the construction gives me confidence that they won’t fall apart any time soon. I used them in conjunction with Funn Ripper pedals so there was plenty of support and whilst the shoes may look quite wide there was no rubbing in the cranks or stays. They also cleaned up nicely with a quick squirt of the hose making them look like new.
The best thing about them is the comfort both on and off the bike. I have set them up clipless and they feel like a good cycling shoe, but when you get off they feel like a good non-cycling shoe. The first time I wore them I forgot to take them off and was still padding round the house an hour or so later in them like they were regular trainers. This was helped by the fact that the cleats are recessed well into the sole, so they don’t clatter about or mark the floor.
Very comfortable and, in my wife’s opinion, good looking shoes, but probably not the best for really bad conditions. I like them, but would want to have something else, or at least an overshoe, for when the bad weather comes back.
|Tested:||by Andrew McHugh for|
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Thanks for the review and I like the look of theses shoes together with the Giro Chamber shoes and Shimano ME5-7’s but all of them are £120+. Is it just me or have new SPD shoes suddenly become more expensive? I get the R&D thing and I’m not one for moaning about cost (which is pretty common for cyclists of all persuasions) but I do think there’s been a hike in price. Would be interested to see if you as journos and regular gear reviewers think this is the case?
That’s a fair point, and something we were talking about on Sunday’s ride. How it seems that suddenly mountain bike shoes cost £120, with £200 not even being the top of the range these days…
I’ve had a quick skip of Bontrager (and Shimano) prices and it seems that £80 gets you a decent semi-performance (rather than just commuting or spinning) pair of SPD shoes. Giro is about £90…
I think that the breadth of offering has increased, so you’ve got basic lace-ups at the £80 end and ultra-performance carbon and sail fabric super shoes at the £300 end… However, just looking at the entry level that you’re talking about, have you seen how much a pair of base Vans costs? (And let’s not even look at a pair of Nike trainers…) You’re paying £65+ for a basic shoe with laces, so considering that SPD shoes have a sole plate and SPD fittings, it’s not a bad deal to start at £80 or so. Yes, you can get non-trendy trainers for less, but you can also SPD shoes from other companies cheaper.
You’re paying for the combo of brand name, marketing, sponsorship, wide distribution through shops, R&D and technical aspects specific to cycling shoes. You’re the consumer, you can decide where to spend that money.
Is that Planet X “Lion of Flanders” socks that I can see on the picture as well?
OK Chipps so if I get the gist…you too have noticed the increase in the price of mountain bike shoes but when looking at it objectively there’s more choice of good quality shoes from recognised brands. This is in line with trainers, skate shoes etc. and in essence we get what we pay for?
Personallly I think you’re about right. Some of the additional cost is down to import costs, commodity prices, tariff charges etc. Market forces that influence all goods. Which is why Brexit matters. But let’s not go there…