Bontrager Rally Clipless Shoe Review
Words By Nic Hall | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Bontrager has an incredibly wide range of product offerings and we must say, while we absolutely love some of their items, others don’t quite have the looks or style to excite us. That is not the case with the new Rally shoes, we really dig the casual, skate shoe vibe of these things from day one and were excited to get a pair. Over the past couple years we have been impressed with Bontrager’s tires and one of their floor pumps lives in the Wolf Wagon. So, let’s dig into the new Rally Shoe after some very aggressive testing in the desert.
The Bontrager Rally is a new clipless shoe that is aimed at the trail and all-mountain market but could pull double duty as a downhill shoe. On the outside, the shoe looks understated and pretty straightforward. Laces with a Velcro strap provide closure and the toebox has a small amount of armor.
Despite the casual look, Bontrager has buried some nice tech into these shoes that could put them at the top of the clipless trail shoe market. The upper is made of a very durable synthetic leather while the midsole is a highly impact resistant EVA. The sole is a mix of heavy texture on the toe and heel with a smooth, waffle-like surface in the pedal contact area to increase traction on and off the bike. There is also a sizeable cleat area that makes clipping in and out easy no matter how rough the terrain is. Both the toe and heel are coated with an abrasion resistant “GnarGuard” coating, that feels similar to a textured bed liner. They tipped the scale at 872g a pair, without cleats on our scale.
I have been riding trail-specific clipless shoes for the better part of my riding career and appreciate the newer offerings that incorporate a well armored shoe into a package that doesn’t look like a set of XC carbon slippers. The Bontrager Rally rides that line very nicely combining a very nice aesthetic with the technical features already mentioned.
The upper is not overly stiff, it’s a little bit stiffer than the Fiveten Freerider but does not have as firm a structure as the Specialized 2FO. The shank is especially compliant and does not restrict walking at all. For those of you that are really looking for every single watt of power transfer, these may not be the shoes for you as they’re not overly stiff. However, if you suffer from foot fatigue in long descents, their compliant sole will help increase comfort walking and riding. These are in the Goldilocks zone of comfort and pedaling efficiency in my book.
Protection is good but not the best out there right now. The toe box is protected from heavy scuffs thanks to GnarGuard but I did feel the impact of some larger rocks that bounced up. The exposed EVA on the sides proved to be the only issue with the shoe. After lots of hard riding in the desert, it had started to show some significant scuffs and wear. If you don’t ride in deep, grooved desert trails where shoes are commonly dragging along rocks, I doubt this would be as much of an issue. Pedal entry was outstanding, the channeling works great, and if you find yourself clipped out for a dab, the Bontrager Rally has the best grip of any shoe I have tested on a medium platform clip pedal when not clipped in.
I also found the fit to be right on. I wear a 9.5 or 43 Euro and the Rally felt perfect, if not just a touch wide right out of the box. I threw them on for an entire week of heavy riding and developed no hot spots or blisters, with my first ride being a 4-hour mission. I have a narrow foot and was able to find a nice tightness with the lace and strap system after the first day of break-in. Breathability was good with venting in the toe box and sides of the shoes. Not once did I feel like my socks were sweaty, but I also never got cold feet while riding in cooler temps.
The Wolf’s Last Word
If you want a set of clipless shoes that feel as good off the bike as on, try the Bontrager Rally. Fit, performance, and style are all just a mark above most shoes I’ve tried. They could use a little bit more protection, but overall, these shoes offer a whole lot in an understated package. If you’re a watt-cruncher, the sole may not be stiff enough for you, however for everyone else, they’re some of the best-looking and most comfortable shoes I’ve ridden.
Clipless Performance With Flat Looks
Come in Black or Army Green Colors
EVA Foam Didn’t Stand up to Rocky Desert Use
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