A few posts ago I wrote briefly about some of my essential bits of kit. Amongst these were the Bont Riot shoes. Following that post it seemed logical to go in to a bit more detail about the shoes and why I get on with them so well.
Let’s start with Bont themselves. Their history comes from making skates. An Australian company founded in 1975 they have been at the forefront of skate design ever since, both ice skates and inline and quad skates. Despite this long history, however, their cycling history is relatively short. But in this short time their shoes have been seen on the feet of some of the sports biggest stars and they have built up a particularly impressive palmares. Alex Dowsett wore Bont’s for his recent record beating Hour ride, and they are becoming increasingly popular in the Pro peloton, as well as in the track community.
With their move to cycling, they brought along their moldable technology and heavy use of carbon fibre. They also brought in a stack height that is considerably lower than a lot of their competitors, as well as a last (broadly the shape of the sole of the shoe, and how it matches the human foot) which has a much more bio-mechanically accurate design than you see in a lot of “off the peg” shoes.
I’d been lusting after a pair of Bont shoes long before my road bike came along, and once it did I had all the excuse I needed. The one thing I didn’t have though, was the budget. Bont’s have always been high end shoes, in the £150+ price bracket.
Not long after collecting my bike I saw adverts for the new “Riot” shoe. Aiming for the budget end of the market it was rumoured to be coming in at the £100 mark. I am well aware that I frustrate those around me when it’s time to buy new kit. I have a habit of researching over and over again to ensure that I’m buying the right product, and then searching endlessly for the right price. With the Riot’s, I pre-ordered a pair straight away, and have been riding them since their launch.
A bit about the shoes then. First and foremost they retain the heat moldable fit that has become something of a trademark for Bont and a staple of their high end shoes. They have done this by using a carbon/fibreglass mix rather than just carbon. Molding the shoes is an incredibly simple procedure, simply take out the insoles, pop them in a pre-heated oven at 70C for 20 minutes then leave them to cool for a minute or two before putting them on, tightening the straps and letting them cool around your feet.
I went through the process twice, until they were perfectly snug. Once on, they seem to cradle your foot perfectly, with a deeper, more heavily shaped heel section that really does hold your foot perfectly. A very simple strap system of one rachet, and one Z-type velcro strap keeps them in place and leaves them easy to adjust on the fly.
With cleats fitted I had to drop my saddle a little as they really do have a low stack height. It was with the cleats that I found the first minor flaw with the shoes. The fitment grid on the soles wasn’t the same on both sides. Not a major issue, but a bit of a nuisance.
Out on the road, initially I was blown away by the stiffness of the sole. I’d come from some fibreglass soled Shimano shoes, so the move to carbon was a dramatic improvement in performance. The other thing that I noticed straight away was the arch support built in to the shoes. I’d had a history of dull knee pain in the past, and I’m convinced that this arch support played a part in alleviating this. It has never made a return.
I’ve run the shoes for about 2 years now. Covering decent, if not high mileage but in all weather conditions. I’ve done a 24hr event, 5/6 hour days in the summer and winter, and a lot of shorter, sharper rides and they still fit just as comfortably as they did during the first ride. If I was to buy another pair I’d probably go up half a size to add some space for warmer winter socks, but the fit is perfect in the summer.
The shoes themselves are still in good condition. The only place that has suffered is around the toe area, where Bont decided not to fit a plastic toe bumper as is found on their higher end shoes. Their new collaboration with a well known online retailer bring a new colour scheme to the mix, and according to the photos a toe protector, which would really complete the shoe in my humble opinion.
I’m not normally one to yield to brand allegiance, but when I’ve found a product I’m happy with, it’s a challenge to sway me to something different. Now that the Riot’s are nearing the point of needing replacing, I’m eyeing up Bont’s brand new Vaypor S, and if I can find the £270 for a pair, I’d be intrigued to find out how much better they are than the Riots. You never know, there might be a review of them up at some point in the future.
For now, until the next review. Enjoy your riding.