While exploring Interbike booth-to-booth, we came across some interesting new shoe options from both Louis Garneau and Bont. We also got a peak at the 2011 Louis Garneau Steeple-X, which was tucked away in a back room since it won’t be imported into the US this year.
Bont may have only started making cycling shoes two years ago, but the company boasts a 35-year history in designing sports high-performance speed skates. Maybe it’s that different background which gives Bont shoes their unique look.
For 2011, Bont will have two models suitable for cyclocross, and the only things the company got blatantly wrong was the model names and target audience. The shoes, dubbed “Commuter 1″ and “Commuter 2″ are full-bore MTB or ’cross race shoes – unless your jaunt to the office happens to require heat moldable uppers with super-stiff soles.
The Commuter One features a stiff carbon fiber and fiberglass sole with a slight amount of flex in the toe-box for running and a synthetic upper. The lugs on the sole and the heel pads are easily replaceable after a tough bout of racing and training. Like all of Bont’s products, the Commuters are heat-moldable to fit a rider’s feet, and the shoes can be re-molded to suit conditions – for example to switch between thin summer socks and thicker layers in the colder months. According to Bont marketing director Richard Verney, the Commuters borrow from their speedskating cousins for the molding and tough construction.
Weight is a svelte 300 grams per shoe, stack height is a relatively low 4.4mm, and MSRP is $300. There are two bottom velcro straps and an additional ratchet, which Verney says is superfluous once the shoes have been molded to fit.
The Commuter Two offers similar stiffness, stylings and features, but uses a full fiberglass sole which adds to the stack height and weight, but lops $100 off the sticker price. Weight is 350 grams per shoe and MSRP is $200
Louis Garneau’s new T-Flex 300 offers the company’s heat-moldable “Custom Fit System” with heel retention anti-slide lycra to keep the back of your foot from moving up in the shoe. In a nod to us cyclocrossers, each tread is placed at a different angle to maximize mud shedding and the center of the shoe has been made a little softer in this latest version to improve running. Carbon fiber where it matters – under the cleat – means stiffness and power transfer to the pedals.
An interesting addition to the T-Flex 300 is a removable carbon insert on the sole. It adds stiffness and warmth when installed, but can be removed for early-season or warm weather cyclocross climates. The shoe also comes with two removable insoles to further dial in temperature comfort – a blue one with perforations and a red one for cold conditions. A wall of material around the buckle protects it from the inevitable collisions, but it’s also replaceable, just in case.
MSRP is $200