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Bontrager Classique shoes review

Bontrager Classique shoes review
17 Sep 2015

Are Bontrager’s new lace-ups a modern Classique?

Cyclist Rating: 
Styling, fit
Laces less intuitive than dial systems

Any distinctive style undergoes a renaissance sooner or later. The Classique initiative developed by Bontrager aims to reintroduce a range of cycling attire with a more timeless style, but with the benefit of contemporary materials and technology – creating ‘retro’ elegance with modern execution. Whilst sitting within this initiative, the Classiques are also Bontrager’s answer to the lace-up shoe trend sparked by Giro’s successful Empire line.

Having tested Bontrager’s Velocis shoes I was keen to see how the Classique’s compared – the former were a genuinely good value and versatile pair of shoes so I was interested to see whether it was worth spending an extra £30 for the £199.99 Classiques. First impressions were encouraging – Bontrager got the styling bang-on for a retro-cool look reminiscent of Adidas’ 1978 ‘Eddy Merckx Competiton’ lace-ups. I knew what to expect with the fit – sizing is brilliantly predictable and so much research and development has refined Bontrager’s inForm Pro Last technology that Bontrager shoes fit the majority of foot shapes very well. The roomy toe box is great for wider feet, the upper neatly wraps the mid foot and the heel cup, with the astute addition on one-way silver thread, firmly secures the heel. Top marks so far.

The heavily perforated upper keeps your feet well ventilated and the 12K chessboard weave of the carbon fibre sole continues the Classique’s pleasing aesthetic. The sole is heavily sculpted with quite a lot of toe spring – so much so you are noticeably higher over the pedal, which feels unusual, but doesn’t seem to introduce any loss in performance. The sole is rated to 12 on Bontrager’s stiffness index and is completely unyielding; there was no noticeable flex during hard efforts.

When compared to modern closure systems, laces just aren’t as ergonomic a solution for securing shoes – the Boa dials on the Velocis shoe, for example, are generally quicker and easier to use and secure the foot just as well. Attention is required to tension the laces correctly in the right areas on the Classiques or an imperfect fit is created that undermines the stiff sole. However with care the laces can precisely fix the foot and there is something reassuringly familiar about tying laces. The action necessitates a more personal engagement with the shoe than just turning a dial and for this tester that encapsulates what this shoe is all about – sometimes cycling isn’t purely about performance, it is about style as well. The shoes actually come bundled with a few different coloured laces if you wish to really coordinate your style.

It is like riding a steel frame – you want the bike to function well, but you also want to look classy as hell. For £200 you could buy a shoe that outdoes the Classiques in terms of raw performance, however few shoes balance aesthetics, comfort and function as well as the Classique. You even get a velor bag to keep the shoes in. Lovely.



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