Bontrager RL Road shoe review

Bontrager's best fit yet

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Bontrager shoes continue their upward trajectory with the latest RL Road model and its outstanding inForm Pro last. The fit and feel are excellent, the styling is keenly high-end, and the feature set would be satisfying even at a much higher cost. Spend more if you like but there's certainly not much need.

The new inForm Pro last is the heart and soul of the Bontrager RL Road shoes. The heel cup construction is basic but well shaped so it holds on tightly, the upper is appropriately snug and mostly form-fitting (more on this later) around the ankle and through the rather dramatically tapered mid-section, and the forefoot flares out to provide breathing room for your toes. Bontrager has also integrated a modest amount of arch support into the reassuringly rigid, full-length carbon outsole.

In total, it makes for an impressively foot-hugging feel and it's easily Bontrager's best shoe fit to date by far, all without the aid of fancy gimmicks or add-ons.

Adding to the shoes' appeal are their light weight (just 488g for our size 43 test pair), the half-step ratcheting buckle, and the ample ventilation with notably open mesh panels generously scattered throughout. Our feet got downright cold even at a modest 10°C (50°F) unless we added thicker socks or shoe covers.

Naturally, there are a few omissions that allow Bontrager to hit that US$179.99/£129.99 price point: the main strap isn't adjustable for length, there's no metal clip snugging around the back of your ankle like on the higher-end RXL model (though we'd argue it isn't necessary, either), and the insole does without Bontrager's fancy heat moldable feature (though we've tried it and aren't entirely convinced, anyway). Aside from that, there's little missing.

Bontrager is rapidly closing in on the target but we still noticed a couple of minor issues that we hope will be resolved with later production runs. The upper wrinkles a bit in between the main and middle straps when things are ratcheted down tight and we also noticed more wrinkles around the inside of the arch.

Thankfully, both issues are only cosmetic and unnoticeable while riding, leaving only an excellent overall fit and a solid value behind.

Price: US$179.99/£129.99
Weight: 488g (pair, size 43, with insoles)
Available sizes: 39-48 (40-46, half sizes) (whole sizes only for UK market)
Available colors: black, white
Pros: Great fit overall, light weight, reasonably priced, high-end styling, excellent ventilation, stiff outsole
Cons: Whole sizes only for UK, fit could still use a bit of refinement around the ankle, so-so insole
Cyclingnews verdict: 4 1/2 stars

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