Good grip combined with durability
The Bontrager Flatline shoe has good grip, flexes enough so you can feel the pedal and it’s hardwearing. It’s not perfect though.
Bontrager launched its Flatline shoe earlier this year. With a smooth synthetic leather upper it looks like a traditional skate pump, but there’s plenty bike technology incorporated into the overall design. The outer sole uses Vibram’s stickiest outdoors rubber with a blocky central tread to better mesh with traction pins and there’s ridged toe and heel edges to keep you on your feet scrambling back up tracks.
Vibram compounds have a reputation of not being quite as tenacious as Five Ten’s Stealth ones, but Bontrager uses the brand’s ‘Megagrip’ rubber here, and together with the gridded sole the shoe grips really well on multiple pedal brands. This traction, together with just about the perfect amount of flex in the EVA midsole, keeps feet feeling surefooted in all conditions, with overall bite levels comparable to the Stealth rubber on the Adidas shoes here.
This thinness of the Flatline sole delivers excellent pedal feel too with a low ride height that increases feedback from terrain and tyres. This design aspect also helps stabilise feet and stops pedals from toppling over and upsetting shoes on the steepest climbs.
The Flatline is supple, roomy inside and comfortable without any hot spots or rubbing. However, even with laces cinched tight, it isn’t totally resistant to feet twisting or wobbling, plus the swanky red laces are way too long too and can flap around and waggle from the lace bungee, which is annoying.
This Bontrager shoe might be a top end price, but it delivers superb pedal feel, excellent grip and good wear life, making it a welcome new addition to the flat pedal shoe market.