2017 Bont Vaypor+ Shoe Review: Roo and Moo For You
The Bont Vaypor+ shoes use the tricks of the custom shoe making trade learned over the past 40 years. Inze Bont started the biz in 1974 for cycling and skate. Moldable composites provides the low weight, stiffness and formed fit required for today’s customizable performance.
Bont’s latest line up is fairly easy to spot. Bold graphics, updated retention systems and materials choices and a range price points, all focused fairly squarely on performance.
The new Vaypor+ is bold and conservative at the same time with modern colors in a bit of a throwback pattern.
But the pattern that matters most if you’re a geek like me is the shoe’s last, and Bont are also fairly recognizable for a broader / wider toe area that looks a bit more like the shape of the human foot.
It always escaped me why cycling shoes (and lots of shoes really) are shaped with pointy toes that look nothing like feet at rest. Lots of open toed sandals for instance have this wide shape at the front because if they were pointy but had no material squeezing your toes into a point, they would just flop off the sides of the sole.
I guess this all goes back to Bont’s roots…
Bont started as custom shoe / boot makers in the same fashion that several other premium brands start life when their skilled founders got pissed off at not being able to find something built to a high enough standard.
That was the case with Bont’s founder Inze Bont in the early 70’s in Australia. He simply couldn’t find a performance boot built to hold his wide feet and so he went about building something that would allow him to perform well.
When you think about it, perhaps the biggest single thing impacting cycling products in the past decade has been fitting training and technology. Along with genuine fit / pressure data acquisition capability, you’ve seen significant development in shoe last shapes and custom molding, and frankly the industry has been moving in Bont’s direction.
With the Vaypor+, you have a moldable carbon chassis from toes to heel cup.
The carbon is also a tub all the way to the toes, meaning the carbon wraps up around the sides of the shoe rather than going flat and then wrapping the upper materials up the sides and over the top of the shoe.
In fact, it’s a virtual one piece composite shoe frame, with carbon as the sole and full heel area and a flexible but non stretch material molded directly in between the carbon layers and wrapping around the top of the shoe.
You can kinda see the upper materials in between the carbon layers in the toe section of the picture below.
It may look super stiff, but the upper material is actually flexible. In fact, if you didn’t have look at the layers inside the shoe, you wouldn’t know that there was anything different about the upper materials than being full kangaroo skin on the outside as well as a full cow-leather inside.
The new Vaypor+ is not only very good looking… the materials spec is also fantastic.
Kangaroo is pretty much the race suit choice of every MotoGP and Superbike road racer on the planet because it’s as soft as cow but massively stronger and more abrasion resistant. So much so that you can “shave” Kangaroo leather much thinner than you would dare wear cow leather, while still being able to depend on it to stay together while covering your ass as it slides down the road at moto racing speeds.
With Roo-strength outside and because Bont have that anti-stretch material molded in, it allows for ultra-plush cow hide inside.
The comfort is bumped up further with a very thin layer of closed cell (no water holding) memory foam.
Bont chose a pair of BOA IP1 for the dials.
These are as straight forward and dependable a retention system as is available. There’s a reason BOA are the standard: they’re light, work well, have relatively high durability and are easily replaceable (you could mug anyone wearing Specialized/Bontrager/Shimano/Giro’s latest and they’ll probably have the same knobs)… Turn clockwise twist to tighten, counter to loosen and pull up to disengage (push to reengage). Ah, and Kevlar “wire” means low weight, very thin, no stretch and good durability.
Traction is provided by solid chunk of TPU up front.
And there’s a replaceable heel pad as well…
Technically, Bont call both the toe and heel replaceable, though the toe has no traditional fasteners (the heel piece is also bonded along with the screw…). But then once you add cleats to the sole, the toe isn’t going to take much wear in any case.
After a few thousand miles, the toe pieces on my pair are without a mark while the heels do have some wear, so it seems Bont understand what’s what here. In reality the toe is so wide on the Vaypor+ that the toe protection piece would need 2-3 screws to properly fasten this, and that would add weight for both the structure and the screws, so it’s best that this piece is molded and bonded.
Speaking of molding
Bont use a resin that becomes soft at fairly low temp. (Full heat molding instructions are at: bontcycling.com/items/support/heat-molding.html)
If you have any places where you need to stretch or push out the carbon, you can use something like the handle end of a screw driver or something similarly rounded to press on the area when the sole is hot. My trick is to build up a think pad of several layers of athletic tape to make that small part of my foot extend out enough to push out the shoe. I otherwise follow the directions and let the shoe form to my foot (and pad). Either way I would suggest someone help you that have strong enough hands that they can help squeeze in the heel section to form it to your foot.
One thing notable about Bont versus a few other moldable shoes is that the mid foot and forefoot are fairly flat.
There is some arch and some foot bed tilt, but I actually found the toe box fairly flat. While the heel area (and the part of the shoe just in front of the heel) molded very well to my foot shape, I couldn’t push on the mid foot section enough to create enough arch support.
I found that I could use a thin custom molded insert in these shoes and it worked fantastically. But custom orthotics that have a fully built up base that forms the arch (made for fairly flat foot-beds) will not work because there is enough shape to the sole plate that it pushes the arch support up and exaggerates the support well beyond what is usable.
top insert = ok, bottom = nokay
Bont use a 3-hole pattern and while cleat positioning with any new shoe needs to be set and adjusted to fit, the grid pattern on the bottom makes repeating the positioning during cleat replacement a breeze.
The sole plate also has a huge roughed surface to hold cleats in place well beyond the range of adjustability for most cleats.
Ventilation for the Vaypor+ is good but not quite for the reasons your eye’s may have you think.
The surface looks like it has loads of large perforation but there’s a bit of eye trickery here. Not all of the holes you see have pass through ventilation, but there are still well placed perforations.
The Vaypor+ vent well enough that I have no issue at all riding these in 90+ degree temps, but for these to be genuinely high flow, Bont could have added quite a bit more perforation. The upper construct is so good and a lot more perforation could be had without risk to what is a very well build shoe.
On the Road
The Vaypor+ is what Bont call “Luxury Sportive” shoes but I think that makes them sound a little pudgy versus what you’re really getting.
I wouldn’t call these “sportive” versus a straight up performance / race shoe just because they’re aesthetically pleasing, have top spec materials and feature a bit of padding.
While these are not Bont’s lightest, The Vaypor+ are not heavy at 230 grams claimed (my 42’5 size were a bit lighter at 219). And while these may not be the stiffest shoe from Bont, there is VERY little flex. In fact, all of Bont’s shoes are very stiff and the Vaypor+ is no exception.
For me, the Vaypor+ is simply a high performance shoe that happens to have a premium lining. It’s like ignoring the 1500 Horsepower and 261 MPH top speed of the Bugatti Chiron and not calling it a hyper performance car because there’s padding in the seats.
In fact, the Bugatti would be better if they used Kangaroo for the seats, but I digress.
Like the hyper performance Bugatti, the Vaypor+ are not relatively cheap, but unlike the Bugatti, they’re not 100 times the cost of the average product like the Bugatti. $499 isn’t cheap, but there are a few shoes in that area and not all of them boast the material spec and detail of these Bonts.
I will say that trying on pretty much any shoe these days in person is suggested. Bont have width options here for the Vaypor+ and they understand that fit is particular so they’ve created a more detailed shoe fitting suggestion at their website: https://www.bontcycling.com/products/road/vaypor+_2016/index.html
Look at the menu bar part way down the page and click on “SIZE CHART” and then follow the instructions and trace and measure your foot as shown. Enter in the details and Bont will let you know the size you should use.
Once you have the proper size, have someone help you mold the shoes and don’t be afraid to remold them a few times. I had to do it 3 times to get them just right. It’s worth the time you’ll take and good retailers should also be able to fit you up.
Most people are good with the arch support set the way these come stock, but in the case you need to add an insert, several thin, heat molded models will work with the Vaypor+.
Add an excellent retention system with well placed wire points to the thin memory foam and leather lining and these are, for me, an extremely comfortable shoe that gives nothing away in performance.
These are available now.
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