Bont's Vaypor shoes are lightweight and amazingly stiff and you can heat-mould them to your feet for an excellent fit.
You've probably heard of Bont shoes, if only because the UCI banned their Crono time trial shoe last year. Bonts certainly attract a lot of attention because they're very different from the norm – not just the TT shoes, but the rest of the range too.
For one, Bont shoes look distinctive. The longest part of most bike shoes is down the centreline, more or less. With the Vaypors, the point furthest forward is at your big toe, which makes a lot of sense to me because that's how your foot is shaped.
Bonts are a touch broader than normal in the forefoot too. If you find other brands tight in that area, it's worth trying these on for size. If you don't need that extra wiggle-room, it's easy to draw the upper in via a Velcro strap that starts out right down by your little toe, and you can alter the shape by heat-moulding them (more on that in a sec).
The extra width also means that a large road cleat like a Look Kéo or Shimano SPD-SL is fully supported by the sole. With every other pair of cycling shoes I have, I need to set the cleat so that the corner hangs slightly over the edge of the sole on the instep side in order to prevent my shoe from rubbing the crank. With these shoes, the whole of the cleat fixes against the sole providing a solid foundation for laying down the power.
The soles arc around the sides of the upper to cradle your foot and hold them steady. Around the heel cup, the carbon extends virtually up to the opening; you can see a lot of it although the top inch is covered by leather. It's similar at the front end. Although it's mostly covered up, the carbon forms a trough that your foot sits in.
This might cause discomfort but for the fact that you can easily heat-mould the carbon. You put your shoes in the oven at 70°C for 20mins until the resin becomes pliable, let them cool just a little, then put them on and allow them to cool properly... job done! You can do this as many times as you need to in order to get the perfect fit. I found mine a bit tight in the mid-foot so I heated them up, pushed them out a little in that area and they've been spot on ever since.
The carbon-fibre soles are among the most rigid I've used – maybe the stiffest. It's virtually impossible to bend at all, and because they're shaped precisely to my feet, they're perfectly comfortable despite featuring very little padding. That padding comes largely in the shape of a very thin EVA insole (that's also mouldable) and memory foam in the tongue. They don't feel soft and yielding like some shoes, but I've been out on big weekend rides in these and never had to give them a second thought. I've certainly not had any hot spots or any other notable discomfort.
The stack height – the distance from the bottom of the outsole to your foot – is just 3.6mm, which is lower than any other shoes I've ever used. Why's that an advantage? People sometimes go on about a low stack height equaling increased efficiency but I don't buy that. I mean, you'll have to put your saddle down a few millimetres if you swap to these shoes but I wouldn't get too excited about that.
The uppers are all-leather although the standard Vaypor uses microfibre and is £25 cheaper at £225. Both versions come with perforations above the toes and in the tongue for ventilation, and another vent on the instep.
In terms of weight, these are certainly light, my pair of size 47s weighing in at just 596g. You can get lighter but these really don't trouble the scales much at all, particularly considering that they feature a ratchet closure rather than just lightweight Velcro straps. The advantage is that they're super-easy to adjust from the saddle.
Bont's sizing, by the way, is much smaller than everyone else's. You might have to go a Euro size larger than usual. Bont do have a size chart on their website but it didn't work very well for me – I needed a size larger than it suggested.
There's very little protection on the bottom for those shiny carbon soles – just a little guard at the heel and toe. That keeps the weight down but it does mean the soles are vulnerable when you're off the bike. Those guards are replaceable if you wear them out but you really won't want to walk far in these.
Lightweight and very stiff racing shoes that you can heat-mould for the perfect fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bont Vaypor White Leather Road Shoes
Size tested: White, Size 47
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bont say, "Based on the successful ctt-one, the Vaypor continues Bont's development in shoe technology.
"Whilst maintaining the lateral forefoot support synonymous with all Bont cycling shoe models, the Vaypor now has a reduced carbon height around the toe box area and an all new Suede L liner.
"The base is made by hand by sandwiching cross weave carbon and uni-directional carbon fiber which is embedded with epoxy thermo setting resin.
"The fibers are hand laid in the matrix according to the strain they will have to bear. Super Mold Technology allows you to obtain a custom fit from a stock boot.
"The Bont a-one's industry leading stack height, weight to strength ratio and power transfer are all part of the new Bont Vaypor."
It's a lightweight race shoe that can be custom-moulded.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The sole is fully heat mouldable. You put the shoes in the oven to soften up the resin and, once they've cooled enough, put your feet inside. It's not hype; this really does make a significant difference to the fit, meaning that very stiff, enveloping soles can also be comfortable.
It looks fine. Most of the upper sections are bonded together rather than stitched in place, but they're standing up fine to repeated use. The ratchet buckle is high quality and it allows you to adjust the fit easily one-handed.
Stiff, lightweight, mouldable... excellent. They just feel great.
They're standing up to regular use very well but bear in mind that these are race shoes, not everyday shoes.
You can get lighter but these are certainly very lightweight.
You don't get loads of padding but the fact that these are heat-mouldable means you can get an excellent fit.
Yes, it's a lot to spend on a pair of bike shoes but heat-mouldable soles are never cheap. I'd say they're worth serious consideration for that technology.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They do their job very well indeed and they feel brilliant.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ability to mould the carbon-fibre and their stability on the pedals.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.