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Australian brand Bont, has a reputation for performance orientated road cycling shoes with its Vaypor S model sitting at the top of the tree. Building on that rep, Bont has dropped this Vaypor G model to tackle the rigors of when your ride turns off the asphalt. With the G seemingly standing for gravel, they are a shoe designed for off road and Bont has positioned to go after the top step of the best gravel bike shoe you can buy. So can they deliver in this new and tightly contested market?
Bont has a stacked out and well established road shoe range with seven different models and now a dirt range to boot (pun intended). With either the Riot model, with its single Boa and Velcro closure designed for mountain biking duties or the Vaypor G flagship model for gravel rides. Both have a similar tread design but the entry-level Riot has a Carbon composite sole plate and the Vaypor G boasts a full carbon design.
Design and aesthetics
The Vaypor G essentially has the same carbon sole plate and a very similar Duralite upper as their successful road shoe cousin but this model is mated to a tread block better suited to off-road riding. Between the bolt-on replaceable tread blocks is, as you would expect, a two-bolt cleat mount with useful grid marks to ensure your cleat is perfectly aligned. These tread blocks are spaced well to shed mud allowing a consistent cleat engagement whatever the conditions.
The unidirectional carbon-fiber sole is described by Bont as a chassis rather than an outer sole plate. That is because the single-piece carbon has been designed to cup up and mold around your feet, adding increased rigidity to the sole while maintaining a low weight with stack thickness of only 3.6mm.
Bont Cycling's proprietary heat molding technology has been perfected over the last 40 years. By heating the resin to make it become malleable allowing you to tweak the fit for a very fine adjustment (1-2mm at most) of the unidirectional carbon tub chassis. It might feel a tad alien to some but you can do this by simply removing the inner sole and your cleat and fixing bolts before placing them in your oven at home at a low temperature (160°F/70°C) for around 20 minutes. Check on them periodically every 5 minutes and when the time is up carefully remove the shoes from the oven.
My one-year-old modern oven was pretty accurate with the temperature so the total heat time was just over the recommended 20 minutes. You need to let them cool slightly, temperature test them with your hands before refitting the inner sole and placing your feet into the shoes – nobody wants burnt toes. Then tighten the Boa closure system around your feet. If you find any uncomfortable areas you can simply work them out by using the rounded end of a screwdriver while they are still warm and malleable. There is no limit to the number of times Bont shoes can be heat molded to ensure they remain well fitted for years to come.
The upper is made from Duralite synthetic material that has venting perforations on the forefoot, on the tongue and under the top Boa dial. The Vaypor G has a split of plain Duralite material and the dimples are similar to the surface of a golf ball. The material is embedded with anti-stretch fabric to ensure that the shoe holds the perfect shape and a reliable fit on every ride. The front tread block houses the prevision for bolt-in toe spikes and also wraps over the front to give a substantial bumper to protect your toes and the upper material from unwanted scrapes.
The closure system is governed by twin Li2 Boa dials that have been chosen to give a precise and an effortlessly adjustable fit. The Boa dials and wire system can be purchased separately and replaced and the whole system is backed up with a guarantee that will last the lifetime of your shoes. The Li2 dial allows micro adjustments with its incremental clicks that both gradually tighten and loosen the wire on-the-fly.
Moving to the inside of the shoe you will find the Vaypor G has minimal padding behind a faux suede liner to ensure a close fit with no bunching or friction while maintaining its racing weight. The Bont inner sole is basic but lightweight with a thin base made from EVA with curved edges - Bont states this is to offer a seamless between the foot and shoe.
The Bont Vaypor G is available in three standard colorways; white/black reflective, grey/white reflective or the all black stealth option we have on test here. Don't panic if these are not your style, on the Bont website you can customize your shoe aesthetics with either semi- or full-custom options for an additional cost. The full custom gives 21 colors across every aspect of your shoe from each panel to the Boa dial color and stitching. You can even have your own name on our shoe if that's your thing.
Impressively, the shoe is offered in 5mm increments from size 36 right up to 50 right across the range. With the moldable carbon chassis tub, having the right width is imperative. There are four standard width options offered: standard, wide, Asian and narrow. Then Bont additionally offers widths of double wide and double wide Asian fits at a special request. You can guarantee that you will find a Bont Vaypor G shoe that will not only fit you perfectly but they could also suit your own style.
These are the stiffest shoes I have ever tried. The Vaypor G delivers crazy amounts of power transfer with zero flex and distortion. For this level of stiffness don't expect to be able to walk normally – the Vaypor G are 100% riding shoes. This may cause an issue if your rides usually include some hike-a-bike sections. Also, the stiffness does begin to tell on the roughest sections on a mixed-terrain ride and high-frequency bumps and vibrations can transfer up through the bike to the soles of your feet. This could possibly lead to some added fatigue.
In terms of fit, these shoes are superb. I carefully followed the online cooking instructions to get this pair molded perfectly to my feet. The toe box is roomy enough that I never suffered with tightly bunched and over cramped toes – and the level of on-the-bike comfort is unparalleled.
The upper Durolite material with the upturned carbon and toe bumper is more than up to the punishment dished out on a gravel ride and even after a few solid weeks of only riding off-road they are still looking as good as new.
Despite the lack of flex, the thick tread blocks are pretty aggressive and offer plenty of bite. I struggled to walk (let alone run) in them which rendered the tread pretty useless for me. I do like the added grip in the middle of the shoe. It really comes in handy when you get in a bit over your head and need to unclip to dab a reassuring foot or during a rushed remount with a poorly placed foot on the pedal. This rubber section prevents unwanted damage to that beautiful carbon weave.
Looking to get racy either in CX or gravel events? Then the performance of the Vaypor G should get you excited. These are possibly the best fitting, lightest and stiffest shoes you can buy. If your rides are more of a party pace and often involve taking to foot or carrying everything but the kitchen sink on your bike then I would maybe look elsewhere.
The stiff sole plate is a marvel at transferring your watts directly to the bike and the molded fit is a game changer. The custom options that Bont offers is a very nice touch albeit at some substantial cost. This pair of shoes with this level of performance features is expensive, and many would argue that they have no need for this amount of rigidity on their gravel rides. For those types of riders there will be a shoe that is better suited. However, for racing at the front and hunting for a podium finish, you will be hard pressed to better the Bont Vaypor G.
Tech Specs: Bont Vaypor G gravel shoe
- Colors: Black, Reflective White/Black, Reflective Grey/Black, semi and full custom colorways available
- Retention: Dual Boa Li2
- Uppers: Duralite synthetic material
- Outsole: Unidirectional Carbon fibre
- Weight: 654g per pair, (size 44 standard width without cleats)
- Size: EU 36-50
- Price: $450 / £325 / €375 / AU$550 (custom variations additional cost)