First Impressions: Bont Vaypor G Shoes

Regular readers of GRAVELBIKE know that I’m a big fan of flat pedals (and their accompanying shoes) for just about any type of riding. But before making the switch to flats a few years ago, I spent more than two decades exclusively riding clipless pedals. During my clipless heyday I wore many brands’ shoes, but to be honest, Bont Cycling’s shoes were never really on my radar. That recently changed, however, with the introduction of the company’s new flagship model, the $399 Vaypor G. What makes the Vaypor G so special? For one, the G stands for gravel, making it one of the few bespoke gravel clipless shoes on the market.

Lighter, Stronger, Faster. That’s how Bont describes the Vaypor G. While I can’t speak to Bont’s claims of stronger or faster, I can tell you that the 668-gram Vaypor Gs are the lightest gravel-friendly shoes I’ve found. There’s more to the Vaypor G than light weight, though. Between the shoe’s unique carbon monocoque contstruction, anatomical toe box, and deep heel cup, Bont’s gravel shoe looks–and feels–unlike other clipless shoes. With most cycling shoes, your foot sits on top of the sole, and is held in place by the shoe’s upper. Bont’s shoes, however, position your foot inside what is best described as a carbon bathtub. According to Bont, that bathtub-style design provides support for the entire foot while improving lateral stability (without increasing the shoes’ stack height). When combined with the company’s signature anatomical forefoot, closed-cell memory foam padding, and dual BOA adjusters, the result is a shoe that effectively manages to balance support and comfort.

Bont’s replaceable grip plates deliver far more traction than what you’ll find on traditional road-style shoes. The widely-spaced tread elements do a good job of shedding rocks and mud, but walkability is hampered by the shoes’ ultra-stiff construction. If your idea of gravel riding involves equal parts riding and off-the-bike exploring, the Vaypor G probably wouldn’t be your first choice. That’s OK, though, because the Vaypor G is designed for riders and racers who want maximum pedaling efficiency, and plan on walking only when absolutely necessary. One might think that the shoes’ stiffness negatively impacts comfort, but I found that not to be the case. Because the carbon moncoque chassis provides more support than shoes with traditional flat soles, I was able to run the Vaypor’s BOA closures noticeably looser than I would on conventional clipless shoes. And for those riders seeking the ultimate fit, the Vaypor Gs can be heat-molded to accommodate any lumps or bunions.

With their ultra-low, 3.6 mm stack height, Bonts place you feet closer to the pedals (especially compared to MTB-style shoes). According to Bont, the shoes’ low stack height improves stability and pedaling efficiency. One potential drawback, though, is that some cleat mounting hardware may be too long (requiring filing/grinding of the bolts, or the use of cleat shims/spacers). If you’ve ever had your foot slip or slide when unable to clip in, you’ll appreciate the rubber ramps positioned fore and aft of the Vaypors’ cleat slots. I prefer a more front-biased cleat position, however, and found that Bonts’ front ramps made clipping-in more difficult with some pedals such as LOOK’s X-Track models.

While I’m not ready to trade in my flat pedals/shoes and return to clipless just yet, I certainly enjoyed testing Bont’s Vaypor G. The shoes’ unique construction proved far more comfortable than expected, and I quickly became spoiled by the convenience of the Vaypors’ BOA closures. If you require maximum pedaling efficiency for gravel and mixed-terrain riding, but don’t plan on extended hike-a-bikes, the Vaypor G is an excellent choice. Bont shoes can be harder to find than other brands, and as with any cycling shoe, getting the proper fit is key to comfort and performance. Based on the recommendation of Bont’s online wizard, I found it necessary to size down from 45 in my usual shoes to 44.5 in the Vaypor G, and the fit turned out to be spot-on.

Pros:

  • Lightweight; 668 grams for size 44.5
  • Road-like stiffness with low, 3.6 mm stack height
  • Anatomical last, heat-moldable for added comfort

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Sizing can be tricky
  • Not suited to extended walking

Disclosure: Bont provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

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