Extravagant red finish, solid foot protection, and exceptional comfort make this one of the best shoes we've recently tested
Bontrager, Trek’s components division, produces virtually all bicycle parts and accessories that the conglomerate needs to offer a complete package as possible to its customers, including clothing, protective gear, and footwear. In terms of wearable products, Bontrager’s products are usually characterized by very high quality, but also a rather conservative design. Well, no more! In 2016 Trek introduced new, daring and innovative design lines of clothing, footwear, and protection, which tick all the latest fashion boxes and present the most advanced technologies in each field.
We got to test the Bontrager Foray cycles shoes designated for XC/trail riding styles, which combine medium-stiffness soles, a durable and well-ventilated body, and a Boa IP1-based tightening mechanism.
The Foray comes in two colors, black or bright red color. The body is made of synthetic fabric with a unique texture which claims to provide additional protection. In addition, the shoe also gets Kevlar reinforcement in areas susceptible to impact, such as the upper side of the foot, the side of the toes, and the rear section which wraps around the ankle. The Foray is based on nylon sole from Bontrager’s “Bronze” series and is set to about 6 out of 14 on the manufacturer’s stiffness index, which means somewhere in between a dual-use shoe and the Spartan-like XXX shoes.
Fitting the shoe to the foot:
Though shoe-fitting is a very individual matter, the Foray fit perfectly to this writer’s relatively wide feet. However, one should take into account that it comes in sizes slightly larger than regular ones, so trying them on first is a must. Additionally, in some countries you cannot get half sizes (e.g., 44.5), but only whole sizes.
Tightening the Foray’s is achieved via a single Boa dial mechanism located at the top of the shoe, which stretches a steel cable that optimally secures the shoe to the foot. The mechanism is easy to use and fastens the shoe well without “strangling” the foot inside it. In any case, you can adjust the level of tightening with only one hand even while riding – a very convenient feature.
The Foray’s internal padding is very soft and relatively luxurious for “stiff” shoes. The shoe’s rear end held the foot firmly and without any unwanted movement while pedaling out of the saddle. The initial comfort we felt was maintained even after many hours of use.
The sole’s structure lifts the front leg slightly up, which give the Foray a somewhat odd shape while standing or walking. However, while riding this rise apparently creates intuitive sliding of the cleat into the pedal, and “clicking” in and out is clear-cut in any situation.
On the trail:
Let’s start from the conclusion: the Foray, which offer an excellent compromise between pedaling efficiency, the right look, and riding comfort and use, is one of the best pair of shoes we’ve tested recently.
Although it doesn’t measure high of Bontrager’s stiffness scale, but at least in our opinion the energy transmission is excellent even when compared to other shoes which are declared to be stiffer. We did not experience any noticeable flex even when sprinting out of the saddle, and on the other hand we did not feel any pressure or discomfort after long rides, as often happens with particularly extra-stiff shoes. The bottom line is that any rider who isn’t super-competitive will probably not experience any lack of stiffness, but will certainly feel comfortable in them.
The Foray offer good protection of the rider’s toes, and shielded mine at least once in an encounter that would have otherwise ended in the clear defeat of my toes to a random boulder. The Kevlar-reinforced front certainly bears the mark of this incident, but it remained intact, as did the toes. The shoes’ red color does it job, and aside from the fact that it stands out, does not get as dirty in comparison with other colors, and is definitely an eye-catcher, it is probably faster … believe us!
The single Boa mechanism, which we had some initial concerns about regarding its ability to maintain the level of tightness over time, defied our pessimistic expectations and performed with distinction. The spaces between the notches suited us just fine without producing excessive pressure or slack, and we occasionally even utilized the option to change the tension while riding – using the round dial is simple.
After several months of riding there is no sign of wear and tear, except the aforementioned superficial scar on the front of the shoe. The Boa mechanism still works excellent, both for tightening and for releasing, and except for some dirt in the front mesh, the shoes look and function as new.
For better: comfort, looks, Boa tightening mechanism
For worse: the price (December 16 update: some good prices can be found online), slightly big sizes.