Bont cycling shoes are just beginning their invasion of the USA and if their success in the European pro peleton is any indication they will be hugely successful. Having just won the latest edition of the Tour de France on the feet of Britain’s Bradley Wiggins sure won’t hurt.
Bont road shoes are uniquely styled, which is immediately noticeable, in that they have a squarish toe-box and carbon soles which spill up over the sides, but these touches are far more than just aesthetics. These aspects are what set Bont shoes apart from the rest of the burgeoning cycling shoe market and they not only create a shoe that is as stiff and light as anything else, they are supremely comfortable and the roomier platform helps to create a more biomechanically beneficial stance.
And I’m not just taking somebody’s word for it: I’ve been riding a pair of A-Two’s for 3-weeks now and with at least 800 miles on them I can feel it. They are very light, incredibly stiff, and my toes have room to stretch out and find their sweet spot, which are reminiscent of my old Birkenstocks…Birkenstocks on steroids. Compared with all the other shoes that have come before these (Sidis, Pearl Izuimi, Specialized, Carnac, etc) it seems to me that my knee is more stable. Bont claims that their shoes provide more lateral forefoot support that creates a neutral position, and this could very well be what I am feeling.
Another feature of these shoes is that they are fully cookable, so just throw them in an oven at the proper temps and when they come out you can mold them to your fancy: work out a hotspot here, push out a bunyon spot there, and after just a bit of tweaking you could probably have even the most finicky of feet flying sky high. Be advised that you should closely follow the directions for this procedure on the website and make sure that you do not rely on the temp gauge on the oven—use a separate thermometer or risk bursting your shoes into a fiery ball of carbon that would result in a horrible mess, not mention it would piss off the cook-of-the-house and leave you in tears. Just not worth it.
The only other recommendation that I can make at this point from an experiential perspective is to carefully measure your foot and select your size using Bont’s online sizing wizard. If possible, try on a pair of shoes. Personally I had to go up one half size but I would not go so far as recommending that everyone do this as most people tend to fit them true to size.
Just one final consideration that you might be making: price. It will also become immediately noticeable that these shoes are not cheap. For a weekend warrior or fair weather rider these shoes are probably just not worth the money, but for someone who rides their bike as a lifestyle, competes in the sport or recognizes that quality, comfort and performance can all start at the cyclists’ foot, will quickly recognize that this is an investment that is well worth considering. I definitely spend more time “quality” time in my cycling shoes than I do any of my other shoes of life so to me it seems well worth the price tag.
Back to Bont Palmares.
In the past few years their most visible athlete was Thor Hushovd who donned yellow Vaypors while wearing the coveted Maillot Jaune during the Tour de France, and when he wasn’t in yellow he was sporting the World Champion’s rainbow jersey with, of course, matching Bont shoes. And prior to that he was looking very much the Viking that he is wearing Bont Vaypors in the red, white and blue colors of his homeland as the national champion of Norway. This leads me to another bonus that can be had from Bont: semi-custom colors that could be set to match your bike or your local world championship ride jersey that you might be currently holding. Most riders will be more than happy with the selection of colors that is provided by Bont but if not, feel free to step it up.
Huge news to us: this year Bont has released it first spd-compatible shoe so now even dirt lovers can give them a go. The Vaypor XC comes in all black or the custom colors of your choice which leads me to wonder which pro mountain bike or cyclocross stars will be sporting Bonts next, all done up in the custom colors of one championship jersey or another.