This review featured as part of the Kit Essentials grouptest in issue 142 of Singletrack World.
Never mind the grip, feel the feel
- Price: £124.99
- From: trekbikes.com
- Tested By: Benji
The Flatline has been out a few years now, but we don’t see very many of them out there being ridden on the trails. Why is this? It’s nothing to do with their function. Nor much to do with their aesthetics. Arguably the main reason is that Bontrager just doesn’t have the cachet of other brands. It’s possibly associated too much as own-brand stuff for Trek. Which is true, but ignoring Bontrager products like these Flatline shoes because of preconceived snobbishness is a bit like shooting yourself in the er, foot.
Despite/because these Flatlines don’t offer as much all-out grip as other brands, certain riders will be better served by them. The sole is from Vibram and, as such, just isn’t very sticky. Nor does the bathroom-tile-inspired tread pattern of the sole offer much in the way of mechanical grip. Again, this isn’t a criticism. Whether deliberate in design or not, the Flatlines are a really tactile shoe for riders who like to skip along feature-filled forest tracks. They feel light and responsive. Riders who ride smoother trails with plenty of pumping and hustling to them should check out the Bontrager Flatline shoes. They have a unique combination of excellent pedal feel and overall nimbleness that will be much loved by riders who are forever repositioning their feet throughout a run.
What the sole lacks in gluey durometer rubber, they make up for in thinness. There is noticeably less material between your foot and the pedal. This is great for both overall feel and handling. There’s very little pedal roll potential, there’s plenty of pedal pick-up and play, and despite being lightweight they aren’t harsh or flimsy feeling. They have a techno EVA midsole like other premium shoe brands and the uppers strike a really nice balance of just-so thin/thickness and padding.
I know I shouldn’t really go on about aesthetics in a performance-minded test but… I really like the look of the Bontrager Flatlines. They are also really easy to live with. They dry out rapidly, they are easy to keep clean, and they’re proving to be durable.
|Tested:||by Benji for 12 months|