The Bontrager brand began in the early 1980s when founder Keith Bontrager started crafting bicycle parts out of his Santa Cruz, California, garage. The company soon grew and was acquired by Trek to become what it is today. From carbon components to advanced helmets and a wide range of cycling gear and apparel, Bontrager offers almost anything a rider could ask for.
This month the wrecking crew grabbed a pair of Bontrager’s Cambion shoes to see what sets them apart from the rest of the competition. Having been promised a performance-level shoe for a range of riding styles from gravel to singletrack, our testers prepared themselves for a long day in the saddle with a new pair of kicks.
Tech features: The unique colorways the Cambion shoes are offered in are eye-catching. The pair we tested came in a pale ice blue color that added a nice bit of flash without being too loud. Other options include a red, black and white camouflage colorway, along with a plain all-black design. The shoes feature an asymmetrical Boa lace system, along with a Velcro strap just above the toebox. Ample toe protection was added, thanks to a strong rubber guard that also protects the front of the shoes from wear.
The shoes are offered in men’s sizes from 37–48 and women’s sizes from 37–43. Along with the wide range of sizes to ensure a comfortable fit, the asymmetrical Boa lace system is designed to remove pressure from the top of the foot. A carbon/fiberglass composite sole was used to aid in power transfer and provide a stiff platform. Furthermore, Bontrager uses its inForm BioDynamic insole to ensure comfort when pressing against the stiff soles. Bontrager then added Tachyon rubber outsoles, along with removable cleats to add off-the-bike traction. The Cambion shoes are designed with standard SPD two-bolt-style cleats. Our size-44 test shoes with cleats attached weighed 710 grams and demanded a price of $225 for the pair.
Other Color Options
Field test results: Once we slipped into our pair of test shoes, we were immediately pleased with the fit. The Boa system held our feet securely without making them feel too constricted, and the heel cup offered a gentle grab that secured the back of our feet to the shoes. It took a few rides for the Cambions to break in, but even during our first ride we experienced a comfortable fit with no pressure points. The soles are quite stiff, offering more of a cross-country feel; however, on a trail bike, the shoes seemed sturdy enough to hang in there for the long run. Some of our test riders prefer a more flexible trail shoe with a wider pedal, while other riders like a more traditional setup. Riders who prefer a stiff sole attached to a smaller, lightweight pedal will find this shoe to their liking. The Cambion shoes suit a range of riders—from cross-country to trail—looking for sturdy shoes with a stiff sole and a comfortable fit.
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