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The Bontrager Velocis Cycling Shoes pack a lot into their clean looks, with a construction that pitches them right into the path of sportive and keen club riders looking for race-esque performance from a (relatively speaking) mid-range shoe.
When I first took the Velocis out of their box, I thought to myself 'now this is a pair of shoes I want to wear'. And then I picked them up. They were light – at 243g each in an EU46 (size 11 to you and me), they're approaching the sharp end of what passes for a WorldTour-ridden shoe.
Except they aren't actually designed for such a rider – although I'm pretty sure they could hold their own, after testing. Instead, the Velocis shoes are pitched more towards the keen roadie and sportive rider market.
The biggest indicator is in the carbon-fibreglass blend sole, which measures 10/14 on Bontrager's stiffness index. Now, stiffness indexes tend to be unique to each brand, so to measure shoes across brands is largely a cloudy endeavour at best. Instead, what we can surmise is where the shoe sits in the range of the given brand – in this case, a couple of rungs down Bontrager's ladder in terms of rigidity, but stiff enough for the type of rider they're aimed at.
The fact that the sole isn't a full-carbon model also shows that sheer stiffness-to-weight isn't Bontrager's top priority. You may be disappointed that you're not getting a carbon-only sole in exchange for your £180 investment, but the reality is that carbon isn't the be-all-and-end-all if you're not racing.
Take, for example, the comfort the sole offers. The fact that it's not super-rigid means less harshness is transferred up through your foot, resulting in less fatigue especially over long rides. The sole is shaped really nicely too thanks to its 'InForm Pro' profile, and while you don't get any inserts for additional arch support, there's a small amount already built in.
Comfort is added to through a well-considered fit that achieves a semi-narrow shape via plentiful padding around the heel and side of the foot. I found my foot cocooned by the Velocis shoes, which in my experience is ideal when you also want a 'connected' feeling through to the pedals.
That's where the 10/14 stiffness rating comes into play – it's more than enough to get a direct-feeling transfer of power through to the pedals and will satisfy all but the most racy of riders. Handily, because the entire construction of the shoe is light and relatively low-profile underfoot, you never feel held back or sluggish when laying the power down.
The top of the shoe is fastened by a single Velcro strap over the toe box, with a Boa IP1 dial taking care of the upper section. It's a difficult solution to get wrong these days, and works really well at distributing tension equally across the top of the shoe, while the pull-to-release mechanism is super-easy. It's worth saying that the Velcro strap isn't for show either, it does have a tangible effect on the width of the toe box, which is handy if you're like me and need to get this right to avoid toe crush.
Comfort is also helped by the relatively thick and well-padded tongue, which spreads right round the top of the foot and naturally sits asymmetrically to better cushion the uneven top of a foot. If I'm honest, it felt a little wide and thick for my personal liking when I first rode the shoes, but you get used to it and not long after I was (internally) singing its praises for the padding it offers.
At the heel, there's a moulded cup to hold your Achilles in place, which is narrow enough to retain your heel but not so narrow that you'll struggle with rubbing. It's non-adjustable, but given the amount of padding over the top section especially, most riders probably won't need it.
The synthetic upper features laser-cut dots for ventilation, and the sole has a small cutout for airflow under the pressure point of the forefoot. It's not the most airy system by any means – I think it could use an extra vent or two in the sole to help pull air through when it's particularly toasty – say, 25°C or more, which arguably limits the Velocis' appeal in hotter climates – but it's been more than enough in typical British springtime weather.
Underneath, the Velocis shoe is also designed to last. The toe grip is small and low profile but that means it's hidden away from too many unnecessary impacts, while the rear is understandably more pronounced to provide clearance for the sole, but is replaceable using a Phillips screwdriver. I've also needed to walk around on gravelly surfaces a fair amount, having a driveway covered with the stuff, and the shoe has proven largely resilient to this, with very few marks to show.
At the end of the day, Bontrager delivers on its claim of producing a road shoe 'that ticks all the boxes for the committed road cyclist'. The £179.99 price tag means it's not cheap, and it sits not too far away from full-carbon-soled rivals like the Shimano RP9s and Specialized's Torch 3.0 kicks. However, for the keen UK road rider a full-carbon sole isn't always the be-all-and-end-all of a quality all-round road shoe, and I highly recommend these.
High-quality all-round road shoes, well worth the cash despite not having a full-carbon sole
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Velocis Road Shoe
Size tested: 46
Tell us what the product is for
Bontrager says: "Get the road shoe that ticks all the boxes for the committed road cyclist. Velocis is designed for the road bike rider that needs one pair of cycling shoes to give them more of what they want. The Boa System provides a perfect fit that locks in power through every pedal stroke. If you're not careful, sponsors may come calling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bontrager lists these features:
- inForm Pro last delivers an ergonomically optimised, high-performance fit
- Silver Series carbon/fibreglass composite sole for added stiffness
- Boa IP1 dial for precise, two-way adjustment
- Stiffness index 10 of 14
- Perforated synthetic uppers allow increased breathability and comfort
The outers seem resilient (albeit you need to take care to keep the neon orange clean), while the sole is sturdy too with very few marks noticeable. No complaints with the fastening system either.
While the sole isn't the stiffest around, the blend of comfort and light weight still makes the Velocis a great all-round performer.
They seem very resilient, manufactured to a high standard.
There's no adjustment in the heel, but the fit is narrow enough to feel like a performance shoe without restricting space in important areas like the toe box.
A UK12/EU47 fitted me perfectly, and I tend to size UK11.5-12/EU46.6/47 depending on the brand.
Given the sturdiness, 486g a pair in my size is very impressive indeed.
The sole manages to soften the experience without losing directness underfoot, and there's a good level of comfortable padding around key areas to ensure all-day comfort. I felt that the tongue was a bit thick for me initially, but I got used to it.
Not cheap for a non-full-carbon sole, but definitely worth it if they fit well.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The upper wipes clean easily, which is good given the options of bright orange or blue alongside plain black.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The clean design, light weight, stiff yet comfortable performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Arguably a lack of ventilation in the hottest weather.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – in fact, I have.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They may be a touch expensive for a non-full carbon-soled shoe and arguably lack a little ventilation, but otherwise the Velocis shoes are impressive. You can't ignore those looks either.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding