Oven ready clips
If you have ever had trouble getting your feet into a normal off-the-shelf pair of racing kicks, then the Bont Riot MTB could be the answer to your prayers.
Promising to deliver truly custom foot shaping for a price equivalent of most ‘mid-priced’ offerings from its rivals, it sounds almost too good to be true. But the good news is the Bont’s have the performance to back up these claims.
At the heart of the shoe is Bont’s unique carbon fibre bathtub style sole unit. Whereas most sole units tend to wrap around only near the arch, this unit cosets almost the whole foot. Wrapping up significantly around from the forefoot all the way to the heel. In fact, the heel section of the sole extends almost two thirds of the way up.
Bont Riot MTB shoe review
Now at first you might think that this, in fact, could create some restrictions to the fit of the shoe. This being especially the case if you have unusual lumps and bumps that prevent a normal shoe from fitting properly, or worse still, forcing you to wear ill-fitting shoes. However this is where the Riot MTB plays it’s trump card (insert drumroll here….); you see, that carbon sole we’ve just been banging on about is fully custom mouldable.
Unlike other custom mouldable shoes the Bont Riot MTB doesn’t cost astronomical amounts of money. Nor do you need access to a hi-tech moulding oven or vacuum device, you simply need an oven of the common or garden variety. The preparation process is simple, preheat the oven to 70ºC, remove the insole, cleats and any metal hardwear (I just removed the toe stud screws). Then place them in said oven for twenty minutes. Once they are nicely browned, bring them out and leave them to cool down a bit (so you don’t burn your feet!); put the insoles back in, put your feet in and do them up. The carbon is still pretty stiff but nicely malleable so should mould comfortably to your foot shape. I have a couple of odd lumpy bits on the outside of feet that get pinched in a lot of normal shoes, Bont suggest manipulating the sole with a screwdriver handle to create more space for lumps n’ bumps. This moulding process can be repeated infinitely so don’t panic if the first go doesn’t feel great on the first ride, you can keep trying.
Does it work?
In a word, yes. When I initially put the Riots on they felt more uncomfortable than most shoes, due to the rigid structure. After the moulding process and a bit of judicious shaping with a screwdriver the fit was almost slipper like (Just as an aside, make sure you undertake the moulding process in the afternoon when your feet are at their widest). I should also point out that you needn’t mould them if they fit out of the box, but it is fun seeing your wife’s face when she thinks you’re pulling dinner out of the oven.
In addition to this mouldability, Bont also endow the Riot (and all other models) with a nice wide toe box so you get plenty of wiggle room. If you have flippers instead of feet, you’ll be pleased to know they also do a wide fit version. A word of caution though, I used the Bont foot sizing chart found on their website and found that my corresponding size was a tad too small so had to size up. If in doubt, find a local dealer to try some on first.
Almost perfect performance
Now all of this comfort and technology would be to waste if the shoe doesn’t perform. And in this respect the Riot has most of the competition licked. With the shoe now fitting perfectly the power transfer afforded by the ultra stiff carbon was second to none. Heel lift, likewise was noticeable in its absence, these suckers cling to your feet like er… suckers. Amazingly, unlike some of the other XC race shoes I’ve tested recently, the inevitable foot fatigue that normally comes with longer rides was practically non-existent. In fact, the Riots kept their comfort throughout the testing period despite my initial reservations of the minimal insole padding.
There’s only one thing preventing the Bont Riot MTB from being a true 10/10 and that’s the level of grip from the outsole. Yes, you can fit toe studs to get purchase in soft conditions, but the main grip sections lack bite and are of a relatively hard compound. Whilst this is great for longevity (you can replace them as well) they are a little slippery and unpredictable over wet roots and rocks.
The Bont Riot MTB are worthy of serious consideration for your next pair of clipless shoes, and not just for racing. The ability to custom mould the shoe to your foot shape is a godsend for riders for whom 'off the shelf' shoes represent painful issues whilst riding. When you combine that comfort with the level of performance the Riot is blessed with then you have a serious contender for the best clipless shoe on the market today.