White mountain bike shoes are simultaneously impractical and audacious. And when you first ride in them, you cringe a little when you hit the first section of mud. But then you get over it. At first try, the RXLs made us aware of the arch support on the insole. It was almost distracting. Then we realised they’re heat moldable, so followed the instructions, put the innersoles in the oven and then established the foot version of a featherbed. Superbly comfy but still with generous arch support. After a few rides it felt like other shoes lacked adequate arch support. The toe box is spacious, ideal for those with wide feet, but never felt too roomy and the metal ‘heel trap’ in the heel cup allows you to shape it to your heel, just by squeezing it by hand. Smart. In addition to the heel trap is non-slip fabric inside the heel cup that makes slipping your foot in easy, but resists upward movement – another impressive feature and confirmation of the attention to detail on this top-end shoe.
Fastening is via two Velcro straps and an EVA padded ratcheted main strap. The inside-foot end of the main strap is low profile and adjustable so you can get the pad in the centre of your foot, while the outside offers a clever dual release/tighten mechanism so you can micro-adjust to loosen, or release the strap completely. The sole is lightweight, super stiff ‘Silver Series’ carbon and dual injected TPU lugs with replaceable forefoot tread. The shoe upper is lightweight, breathable microfiber mesh while a rubberised toecap bumper minimizes any kind of scuff issues.
At 800g for the pair (size 43) with cleats, they’re light and certainly live up to Bontrager’s claim of the RXL being the ‘Ultimate XC Race Shoe’. They clean easily and return to bright white (we just sprayed on a little bike wash detergent while doing a post-ride bike wash); and for those that aren’t white-shoe fans, they also come in black.
In the past, we felt Bontrager was a top bike accessory brand that also dabbled in rider accessories. But with the RXL shoes, that perception has changed. We could find nothing negative. These are among the best shoes you’ll get.
COLOURS: White, Black
WEIGHT: 800g (size 43, with cleats)
*PRICE: R3 499.99 (RRP)
SIZES: 39- 47 (EU sizing)
CONTACT: www.thebicyclecompany.co.za; 087 943 7200
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 22, 2013 – All rights reserved