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Bont's Vaypor S shoes are super-stiff yet they provide an excellent level of comfort, and they now come with Boa's top-level Li2 dial closure... but you do have to stump up a whopping great wad of cash if you want to enjoy them.
The Vaypor shoes have evolved since we first reviewed them on road.cc waaaaaay back in 2012, but they're still incredibly stiff.
The soles are handmade from unidirectional carbon fibre and they just don't flex. There are lots of stiff-soled shoes out there these days if you're prepared to pay top-end prices, and the Vaypor S is right up there among the very stiffest. I can detect absolutely no flex at all here.
Those soles are tub-shaped – they extend up around the sides of your feet, not just at the heel but in all other areas too. It feels like this is providing stability and support as you pedal, particularly when you're out of the saddle. The curved-up sides could cause discomfort if your feet pushed hard against them anywhere, but the soles are heat mouldable.
Moulding the soles is a relatively straightforward process: you just heat an oven to 70°C and then put your shoes inside for 20 minutes. After taking them out you can alter the fit of any tight areas with something like the round end of a screwdriver. You can repeat the process as many times as you like. The EVA innersoles are heat mouldable too.
Even so, I still find the process a bit scary. You don't want to be the person who incinerated their shiny new £325 shoes, do you?
It has to be said, though, that some people don't get on with Bont's tub-shaped design. If your feet don't fit in the tub there's only so much moulding you can do – a standard sole design is more forgiving – so try before you buy. Put the Bonts on and it'll be pretty obvious whether a little bit of moulding will relieve any small areas of pressure or whether you'll be fighting a losing battle.
I find the Bont sole particularly comfortable because its distinctive shape is closer to that of my foot than other shoes, and I know many people find the same thing. I don't feel like anything is being squashed, squeezed or cajoled here, and I've never experienced any hot spots with the Vaypor S. I know this might sound weird but a lot of shoes simply aren't all that foot-shaped! The outline of the Bont sole looks like the outline of a foot, and that makes a lot of sense.
The outer sole has heel and toe guards to provide some protection and grip, and a grid on the forefoot makes matching up your cleat positioning a cinch.
The uppers are made from Durolite synthetic material, which looks a lot like leather and wipes clean quickly and easily. Beneath that there's a proprietary material that, Bont says, has 'similar strength characteristics to Kevlar'. I'm not sure whether or not it'll stop bullets, but I do know that it doesn't stretch so your feet are held firmly in place.
Two Boa Li2 dials take care of closure on this version of the Vaypor S. Li2 is Boa's premium product and it works superbly, allowing one-handed micro-adjustment in both directions, even through overshoes. When you want to release the tension completely, you just pull the dial upwards. It could hardly be simpler.
The Li2 dials are low profile, have a composite grip around the edge so your fingers don't slip, and their unfussy look is pretty stylish. I've no reason to doubt they'll prove as durable as all the other Boa dials I've used, and if you do ever smash one up in a crash, replacement is pretty simple.
The only downside of white Boas is that if oily fingers get the textured edges horribly dirty, getting them clean again is a bit of a mission.
You know how some saddles manage to be incredibly comfortable despite little in the way of padding? The Vaypor S pulls the same trick. There's a small depth of cell memory foam around the opening (the 'collar') and the heel, and the tongue provides cushioning against the Boa dials and laces, and I've found it perfectly sufficient.
This foam doesn't retain water, which is good news when you sweat or get caught in the rain – as I have. My feet didn't dry particularly quickly afterwards – these aren't the airiest option out there – but at least the shoes didn't feel too heavy with water and they were dry by the following morning.
You do get ventilation courtesy of holes in the uppers above your toes and across the tongue. There are also vents in the toe bumper and the foot arch. You don't get mesh panels in the uppers, though, if you're a hot-footed type and that's something you particularly need.
There's no getting around the fact that £334 (current conversion from €399) is a lot to pay for a pair of cycling shoes, although the Fizik Vento Stabilita Carbon road shoes that we reviewed recently are £375, and the Specialized S-Works 7s £370 (and we've reviewed still more expensive shoes).
There has to be a good reason to spend this kind of money and the Bont Vaypor S certainly offers something very different from the norm both in terms of shape and tech. Personally, I'd be willing to pay the premium because these shoes work so well for me although, of course, foot shapes vary considerably.
You might think this is a gushing review and I guess that it is, but the Vaypor S shoes aren't just like a thousand others out there, they're a totally different take. You can get lighter shoes and you can get ones with more ventilation, but these are stiff-soled, supportive, secure and very comfortable. If only they were cheap as well.
Super-stiff, supportive and comfortable road shoes, the only hurdle being the big price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bont Vaypor S Li2
Size tested: 46
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 says, "Lighter, Stronger, Faster.
"Designed for speed and comfort.
"The Vaypor S once again redefines the standards of pro level road cycling shoes. Our latest flagship shoe has been further refined to improve on our already industry leading standards. Whether you are a pro racer or simply a rider who demands the finest, the Vaypor S will provide the most anatomically and biomechanically correct platform with the most efficient power transfer platform currently available."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bont gives a lot of information behind its design on its website. Check it out to see if you're convinced by the brand's technical reasoning.
Bont lists these tech specs:
Material Unidirectional Carbon Monocoque Chassis with Durolite Upper and Faux Suede Leather Liner
Stack Height 3.6 mm
Air Vents Frontal area air vents and air gills in arch area
Innersole EVA thermo-moldable
Sole Guards Replaceable
Padding Memory Foam
Cleat Mounting MM grid plus grip / 3 Hole Look Configuration
Fit Customisation Fully Heat Moldable Chassis utilizing Epoxy Thermoset Resin
Closing Options Dual Dial Retention System with Kevlar wiring
Everything is very well made using high-quality materials, such as the Durolite upper, carbon-fibre sole, Boa Li2 dials...
They're stiff, secure, supportive and comfortable.
They stand up to regular use very well. I've not crashed in these, thankfully, but I've hit the deck in a previous version of the Vaypor and the damage was no more or less than you'd expect with other shoes.
I also have a pair of Vaypor S shoes from 2017 that are still going strong – and they get a lot of use. The uppers have a lot of ingrained dirt and the soles are a bit tatty but there's still a lot of life left in them and I've never had to replace the heel.
A car came out of a junction at me when I was wearing these once. The car bumper hit the shoe and all that got damaged was a bit of stitching. Honestly, they're tougher than you'd think.
The forefoot feels less tight than you get with some other shoes, so your toes can wiggle. The heat mouldable aspect of the design isn't a gimmick; it works and it's relatively easy if you follow the instructions.
The only issue is that some people's feet really don't fit into the tub-shaped sole.
I took the same size here as I do with other brands. The mouldability gives you a bit of leeway.
Yes, these are expensive shoes, but check out the materials used (see above) and the performance – and they're cheaper than some: Fizik's Vento Stabilita Carbon road shoes are £375, and Specialized's S-Works 7s are £370.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's easy to wipe them clean after wet/dirty rides. You can get grit in the vent holes but it comes out with a bit of effort.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These shoes perform superbly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The super-stiff sole, the shape, and the level of comfort on offer.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is, um, challenging. Don't get me wrong, the Vaypor S works hard to justify the cost, but you have to say that £334 is a lot of money to spend on cycling shoes.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I would, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I really want to give these a 9 because the performance is so good, but I guess the price means that I reluctantly need to reduce it to an 8 overall.
About the tester
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.