Skip to main content

Bontrager XXX Road Shoes Review

The Bontrager XXX Road shoes are one of the most comfortable we've ever sampled but beware of Bontrager's sizing

Bontrager XXX Road Shoes Review
(Image: © Josh Croxton)

Our Verdict

The Bontrager XXX Road shoes are one of the most comfortable we've ever sampled but beware of Bontrager's sizing

For

  • Neoprene at contact points
  • Comfort
  • Ventilation
  • Stiffness

Against

  • Bontrager's sizing

In Bontrager's range, the XXX name is reserved for its premium race-focussed products, and the new XXX road shoes are very much in keeping with this trend. At £299.99 / USS$399.99 / AU$499.99, they're a significant investment but the price is in line with its competitors. 

Design and aesthetics

Worn predominantly by the Trek-Segafredo WorldTour team, Bontrager's range-topping XXX road shoes are easily one of the best-looking cycling shoes we've seen this year. Minimalist in design, the shoes' most endearing feature is undoubtedly the external heel cup and subtle XXX logo on the outstep - it really is a premium product.

Image 1 of 2

Bontrager XXX road shoes

The small XXX logo adorns the outstep
(Image credit: Josh Croxton)
Image 2 of 2

Bontrager XXX road shoes

The plastic external heel cup offers a secure hold with a degree of comfort-enhancing lateral flex
(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

 Specification and build quality 

The shoes feature a carbon-fibre sole with a stiffness index rating of 14. This is a Bontrager-specific rating and therefore incomparable to similarly numbered ratings from other brands, but they're the stiffest offering in the Bontrager stable nonetheless. The construction of the shoe appears solid, although, being picky, the mesh that covers the ventilation holes in the sole does feel loose to the touch. The external heel pad is replaceable, however, the pad at the front is not. 

The retention system comes in the form of a twin Boa dial system, which offers independent forefoot adjustment to provide a snug fit to a range of foot shapes. They also feature an external plastic heel cup which provides a secure hold with a degree of comfort-enhancing lateral flex. Neoprene pads placed at the top of the tongue and rear of the heel offer soft contact points to further enhance comfort.

Bontrager XXX road shoes

The shoes feature a carbon-fibre sole with a stiffness index rating of 14; the stiffest available in Bontrager's range

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

 Performance, stiffness and comfort

I'd go so far as to say the Bontrager XXX shoes are the most comfortable I've ever worn. The heel cup is secure, yet not vice-tight, aided by the no-slip lining. Ventilation is good; after approximately 100 hours of testing in conditions ranging from typical British rain, to unexpected 30 degree heat, overheating was seldom an issue. 

A problem many cyclists have with performance-focussed shoes are the contact points between the ankle and the shoe itself. Bontrager has addressed this by inserting neoprene pads at these contact points. 

The two Boa dials provide plenty of adjustment - the XXX shoes can be worn very loosely for a relaxed fit. In fact, winding the Boa dials out to a point where they are slack still didn't affect the security of the shoe, but of course, power transfer did begin to suffer as a result. Winding in the tightness, the comfort continued and the shoe transformed from comfortable to race-ready fast. With the stiff carbon-fibre sole, power transfer felt immediate, and after a few test sprints, a look at the peak power output confirmed my sentiments. 

The only bugbear is the sizing; as an owner of multiple pairs of Bontrager shoes, I can safely say this complaint is not limited to these XXX shoes but the entire range, the UK sizing appears to be off. I have size UK11 (EU46) feet, however, Bontrager's equivalent translates to EU45. My recommendation would be to try on a pair of Bontrager shoes before you buy the new XXX road shoes.

 Verdict

Bontrager's sizing issues aside, the XXX road shoes are the most comfortable I've ever worn. They fit perfectly, with zero areas of discomfort, and they perform as any top-level race-ready road shoe should. I will gladly add them to my stable of go-to cycling kit. 

I'm not going to pretend £299.99 / USS$399.99 / AU$499.99 for a pair of shoes is in any way cheap, but sadly, in today's cycling market, that's the ballpark in which a top-end pair of cycling shoes sits. Comparing against the range-topping end of various manufacturers' offerings, the Bontrager XXX road shoes are slightly more pocket-friendly than its rivals. The Specialized S-Works 7 shoes will set you back £340.00, Fizik's Infinito R1 shoes start at £349.99, and the Sidi Shot will cost you £349.00. Not to mention the S-Works Exos shoes, which retail for £449.99. 

Given my near-perfect experience with these shoes, I would happily avoid spending the extra cash, and remain confident that I'm wearing a market leading pair of cycling shoes.

You can buy the Bontrager XXX road shoes at your local Trek retailer or at trekbikes.com. 

 View Deal

Not for you?

Best road cycling shoes

Here at Cyclingnews, we have tested an endless list of cycling shoes, so we feel we're in a position to offer helpful advice. If you've decided the Bontrager XXX road shoes aren't for you, check out our roundup of the best cycling shoes