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The Bont Zeros are lightweight, mouldable top-level shoes that are as stiff and efficient as we've ever used.
The Zeros are the shoes that Bradley Wiggins wore for his wins in this year's Tour de France and Olympic time trial – not that they'll necessarily deliver you the same success, but it proves that they can cut it at the very highest level.
The outsoles are made from 100% carbon fibre which extends well around the sides of your feet and into the uppers. There's another 4cm of carbon that you can't see around the heel cup, for example, so each foot sits in something like a little carbon bathtub. Those soles are a distinctive shape – much closer to that of your foot than most with a shaped arch support – and the forefoot is quite broad.
The soles are mega-thin; the stack height is just 3.6mm and the lack of material helps keep the weight down (see below). The low stack height is certainly noticeable. You'll probably have to drop your saddle height a few millimetres.
Despite being so slim, the soles are incredibly stiff. These things just do not flex or twist. Heel and toe sole guards do their job pretty well and they're replaceable should you wear them out over time. The sole is fully heat mouldable and that's an idiot-proof job in the kitchen.
The uppers are really unusual. For a start, they're made from laminated silver glass fibre. It's not as supple as some materials but it's very light and it's bonded in place rather than stitched.
The next curious feature is that the Zeros have a lace closure. That allows you to get the precise tightness you want – well, you know how laces work! – but it does mean that on-the-fly adjustments are more difficult than with ratchets, dials or Velcro straps.
Then, of course, there's that flap over the top of the laces. It's designed to keep everything looking neat and to improve aerodynamics. It's held in place by a large Velcro tab so it always stays where it should.
We have size 47s here, which equate to a size 46 in everyone else's sizing, and they weighed in at 502g the pair. The Bontrager RXXXL's that we reviewed recently were just a touch lighter.
In use, the Zeros felt good. Once moulded, the soles fitted my feet really well, the bathtub shaping providing plenty of support without being restrictive. It was especially noticeable when I was standing on the pedals and throwing the bike around; your feet can't slip over the sides of the sole and push the uppers out like they can with some shoes.
I get on really well with Bont's forefoot shaping too. Your toes can spread out just a little more than in most shoes. If you have broader feet and struggle to get a good fit elsewhere, give them a go.
The lace closure takes a bit of getting used to. Like most people, I occasionally fine-tune the fit of my shoes on the go but you can't do that here. I actually got around it by using a triathlon-style lace lock that worked well. Then I could easily slacken them off a bit if they felt too tight without the need to stop.
The insoles aren't very deep but they provide effective cushioning. There's plenty of comfort there. The uppers, as I said before, aren't especially supple. They feel firm compared to some so I didn't find these quite as comfortable as the Bont Vaypors, for example, but there's no doubt that they'll stay in place. For that reason, rather than using the Zeros every day I'd be keeping these for racing only – especially considering the price.
Very light, mouldable race shoes that are as stiff and efficient as any we've ever used.
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Make and model: Bont Zero shoes
Size tested: 47, silver
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 the Zero is, "Built to be a climb specific shoe, but strong enough to be the choice of sprint specialist and time trialist's in the pro peloton.
"The Bont "Zero" model cycling shoe combines all our technical knowledge into one state of the art racing shoe designed specifically for the art of climbing, but to be just as much at home on flat roads.
"The Bont Zero is handmade and has a 100% carbon monocoque chassis with a laminated silver fiberglass upper. Our carbon layup techniques have been further refined through testing to reduce the effective weight of the shoe without compromising its structural integrity and performance."
They're pro-level shoes, essentially – as demonstrated by the fact that Wiggo used them to win the Tour de France.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The sole is a unidirectional carbon construction with a cosmetic layer on the top.
All good. The uppers are bonded in place – there's very little stitching here – but don't let that put you off. It's all neat and strong.
Very light, very stiff – just what you want. The only question mark is whether you'll be happy with a lace closure.
After several weeks of hard use, everything is as good as new apart from a few little cosmetic scuffs on the outsoles.
I didn't find these quite as comfortable as the Bont Vaypors but the fact that you can mould them to your feet means you'll get an excellent fit.
Oh, I don't know. These are far and away the most expensive shoes we've ever reviewed. I'm guessing you'll make your own mind up on whether they're worth it or not.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If you're after lightweight and stiffness, you'll do well to find better.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Mouldability and those super-stiff soles.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price, obviously. On the whole, I'd rather go with a strap, dial or ratchet closure for more on-the-fly adjustability.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? If I had a big wedge of cash burning a hole in my pocket.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
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 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.