Luxury Meets Performance
If you think of your cycling shoes as cars, what would they be? Hopefully not a busted up 1989 Honda Civic, but instead, at least a Subaru BRZ. The Bont Vaypor+ 2016 would be a flashy green Aston Martin Vanquish, a luxurious ride that can throw down with some of the best sports cars around.
We met with Bont back at Interbike, and I had the chance to slide a pair of their shoes on for the first time. The two things I noticed were the stiffness and “the tub.” They were easily some of the stiffest shoes I’ve ever worn, and the tub left plenty of room for my toes to spread out. I couldn’t wait to get my pair for review.
Not long after the show, a box arrived with a crispy new pair of the Vaypor+ 2016 in the green/blue/white colorway. Billed as a “luxury sportive” shoe, it blends Bont’s racing and performance heritage with luxury materials like a kangaroo leather upper and a supple cow hide internal lining. The performance comes in the form of the full carbon sole and the Boa IP1 dials. More on the performance side in a bit.
Whether you know it or not, there is a lot going on with this shoe. Underneath the soft kangaroo leather upper is an anti-stretch layer that helps keep them from stretching out. With properties similar to Kevlar, it’s stitched to the kangaroo leather, and bonded to the inner cow hide to keep the upper supportive. The padding used in the shoe is a closed cell memory foam which won’t soak up water or sweat, keeping them from getting water logged.
When you get into the chassis, or sole of the shoe, you start to see the performance coming through. There is a reason they call it a chassis instead of just a sole. Just like in a car, the chassis contributes to the stiffness and handling capabilities. The design and construction of the Vaypor+ 2016’s chassis has a lot to do with how supportive it is. The unidirectional carbon chassis is made from Toray carbon fiber and an epoxy thermo setting resin and is hand made to maximize stiffness and keep them light. It uses the traditional three bold mounting system for cleats. Bont is unique in that they wrap the chassis up along the side of your foot, creating the tub for your foot to sit in.
Inside, they included a medial longitudinal arch support to help keep your foot from pronating, and keeping your knee tracking how it should. The tub also provides your foot with room to spread out and a solid platform to push on, again, keeping your knee tracking the way it should, helping to prevent injuries in your knee, hip, and lower back. The extra room to let your piggies move helps with circulation and keeps your feet comfortable.
The last design also has a lot to do with the comfort of the Vaypor+ 2016. Grab your dress shoes and your cycling shoes. Do they look similar? It’s because they were probably designed off of a similar last shape. Bont on the other hand, has been studying and improving their last since 1975 to make it one of the most functional and supportive shapes in cycling. The Bont last gives the shoe a wide look in the toe box, but this actually mimics the shape of your foot. Available in standard, wide, narrow, and “asian” widths, there is a shape to match any foot.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the Vaypor+ 2016 to get on my feet. Even without custom heat moulding, they already fit my feet pretty well. The Giro Empire, my go to shoe up to this point for both road and cross/xc, is the only other shoe that has fit this well out of the box due to the customization of fit with the laces. The Boa IP1 dials were able to get the fit right where I wanted it, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mould the Vaypor+ 2016. This is a review though, so in the name of bringing info to the masses, the oven began to preheat.
The moulding process isn’t that hard. Make sure the cleats are off, pull out the insole, preheat the oven to 160F, and wait. I do recommend putting a separate and accurate thermometer in with the shoes, as the thermometer on your oven might not be quite accurate. After 20 minutes in the oven, pull them out, give them a short time to cool, and then put the insoles back in and put them on. Tighten the Boa dials, and wait. If you need to tighten the ankle, give it a squeeze and hold it in place for a bit. I kept mine on for about a half an hour until they really cooled, and they were just about perfect. If you have a bunion or funky feet, you can use the round, back end of a screwdriver to push out that area while they are still hot. Don’t worry, if you don’t get the fit just right the first time, or something changes on your foot, they can be remolded as many times as you want. I ended up moulding mine a few more times to get certain areas just right, and the fit is the best I have ever had.
Once moulded, fitting cleats was just like any other shoe. Bont includes a number of markings on the sole to help you find the right spot. The Speedplay Walkable Aero cleats went on easy, and the green color matched she shoe well for a custom look.
Since the first ride, the Vaypor+ 2016 has been nothing but comfortable. I’ve noticed that while I feel I should be spinning the Boa dials tighter than I do, my feet feel planted in the shoe. A lot of that has to do with the tub and construction of the upper, but also the anatomical heal cup helps lock your foot in place whether you are pushing or pulling on the shoe. There was little to no break in period on these shoes either, a testament to the custom moulding and luxury materials.
The Boa IP1 dials have been a pleasant surprise too. It was my first experience with a dial system, and I found them to be very adjustable. With the dual dial system, the lower dial controls three points of adjustment and top dial controls two. It’s not quite as adjustable as a lacing system, but I never felt any hot spots or discomfort. You can tighten or loosen the shoe in 1mm increments in either direction, or pull the dial to release and open the shoes up fast. The light weight of the IP1 system helps to reduce the weight of the shoe.
There are only two things I can complain about, and they are relatively minor for what you get. First, they can be warm on the hottest of days. The TPU toe bumper up front has some vents built in, and there are some perforations in the kangaroo leather, so some air is getting through. Compared to something like the Giro Empire, I felt like I was getting more air in. Up against other high end shoes with mesh, neither the Vaypor+ 2016 or the Empire would match up fairly. When riding in wet conditions, or during some of the warmer times this year, my feet felt light and comfortable. The other thing is the price. These are some spendy shoes. At $499.00, the Vaypor+ 2016 is the top of the Bont range, but with all of the technology packed in with the luxury upper, it truly is the Aston Martin Vanquish of cycling shoes. If the regular moldable version isn’t enough for you, the Vaypor+ 2016 is also available through their custom program for $1099.00.
Overall, the Vaypor+ 2016 lives up to the Vaypor name. It is a supremely stiff shoe, but remains very comfortable. It’s not the lightest shoe on the market, but the additional weight (564g in size 45 for the pair) can be forgiven due to its soft and supple upper. It truly is a race shoe with added luxury. There are plenty of color and size options to fit everyone’s foot and style choices, and Bont’s website does a great job at helping you find the right size for you.
Size 36-50 with half sizes between 40 through 46.
Black/White, White/Black, Alpha Blue/Orange, Brown/White, Lime Green/Alpha Blue, and Orange/Alpha Blue