Early heat moldable technology adopter Shimano has fully revamped its top-end customizable models with a new upper material called Rovenica. While not heat moldable themselves (Shimano integrates that functionality with five separate panels underneath in each shoe), the Rovenica materials lend a much more supple overall feel to the new SH-R315 and SH-M315 models that previous versions lacked.
According to Shimano, the softer materials offer a better fit straight out of the box than before and also give the shoes a less 'wooden' feel when worn. Durability supposedly hasn't been sacrificed, either, while breathability is said to have improved.
In addition to the new materials, the SH-R315 road shoes also boast a more streamlined shape than before with a more cleanly integrated plastic toe cap (necessary to keep the toe box from collapsing during the molding process), a tidier fixed-position buckle, and a new wraparound external heel counter to help stabilize the foot.
Shimano will offer the SH-R315 for US$379.99 starting this November in sizes 38-48 with half sizes from 40-5-46.5 and even E-widths, too. Claimed weight is 523g per pair.
Vents in the toe of Shimano's upper-end carbon soles help bring in cooling air.
The SH-M315 mountain bike shoe upper is virtually identical to the R315 but here it's bonded to an all-new carbon outsole with more aggressive lugs for surer footing. More rubber has also been applied to the area behind the cleat pocket, too, for better security when you're not quite clipped in.
Consumers will have to wait until December for the M315s, though, but Shimano will offer them in a generous 38-48 size range with half sizes in 40.5-46.5 and E-widths, too. Suggested retail price is US$349.99 and claimed weight is 686g per pair.
Other major changes come at the non-heat moldable mid- and entry levels, too, with at least four other new road models, two new multisport models, and a whopping seven new mountain bike shoes for 2011.
Highlights include the SH-R077 with its three-strap Velcro upper and three- or two-bolt cleat compatibility; the SH-TR52 with a broad single reversed strap and giant heel loop for faster transitions plus an aggressively vented upper for quicker drying; and the SH-AM45 all-mountain shoe with a higher-cut inner ankle and more heavily bolstered outer edge to protect against impacts.
Bont's new Vaypor model borrows from Cervélo TestTeam development
Bont continues to come on strong with far more pros– either sponsored or otherwise – using the distinctive-looking shoes this past season thanks to their ultra-rigid carbon fiber bathtub-style soles, superb heel hold, and fully heat moldable uppers.
New for 2011 is the Vaypor, which borrows heavily from the ctt-one road shoe that was developed in conjunction with the Cervélo TestTeam. The Vaypor shares the general overall style and strap layout – including Bont's new single Z-strap forefoot setup – but with a carbon fiber bathtub chassis that's cut a little lower down on the sides of the foot for a slightly less constrained feel.
Upper materials have also been updated for a more premium, glossy look and additional ventilation around the toe box and tongue.
Likewise, the mid-range a-two model also receives a lowered bathtub chassis for 2011 but retains its familiar single buckle-plus-twin forefoot strap layout. Substituting some fiberglass for carbon fiber increases the weight and stack height just a tad relative to the a-one or Vaypor but still remains outstanding at just 572g per pair (size 44, actual weight) and 4.4mm, respectively.
Though not new for 2011, one of our favorite Bont models remains the surprisingly attainable a-three, which offers virtually identical levels of rigidity and foothold as the upper-end models but at less than US$200 retail. Changes include fiberglass composites instead of true carbon fiber and three broad Velcro straps instead of a ratcheting buckle but still remaining are the bathtub-style construction, vise-like hold, and full heat moldable capabilities.
Louis Garneau expands on moldable footwear for 2011
Louis Garneau will offer two new heat moldable models for the coming 2011 season, including the CFS-300 road and the T-Flex-300 mountain models – both of which are repeatedly moldable at home using a conventional oven.
The CFS-300 (US$299.99) offers a moldable toe box, inner and outer forefoot and heel cup. The shoe features a main ratchet closure that is both vertically and laterally adjustable without the use of an intrusive instep attachment. The CFS-300 also sports Louis Garneau's HRS-100 system, a band that runs around the upper part of the shoe’s heel cup and works to increase heel security along with the ‘cat’s tongue’ liner material.
Louis Garneau mounts the upper to its Exo Jet Carbon outsole, highlighted by a molded-in arch support. In addition, two Coolmax Ergo Air insoles are included for use in hot and cold conditions as well as a set of winter/aero external toe covers. Claimed weight of the CFS-300 is 290g per shoe in a size 41.
Louis Garneau's unobtrusive adjustment system for the CFS-300's main retention strap.
The T-Flex-300 (US$199.99) offers a similar level of moldability as that found in the CFS-300 road shoe, but to off-road riders. The new off-road model feature set includes an adjustable ratchet positioning system and a removable carbon fiber sole plate that allows a rider to customize the shoe’s flex and level of ventilation.
The new shoe’s tread is also updated from the original T-Flex with a new lug design and dual compound rubber. The T-Flex-300 has a claimed weight of approximately 350g per shoe in a size 41.