Flat pedals win medals—or at least that’s how the saying goes. Regardless of whether you ride for glory or cruise for fun, flat pedals can improve the way you ride. Removing the metal cleats from the bottom of your shoes can make riding your bike even more exciting than it was before; however, be forewarned that flat-pedal riding is not easy. Keeping your feet glued to your pedals while blasting through a rugged rock garden requires more finesse and bike control to safely make it through to the other side. The right pedal and shoe combo is key to having the best flat-pedal experience. Bontrager, a company that has been rapidly growing its component and apparel line, recently introduced a new shoe for flat-pedal crusaders. The Flatline mountain shoes promise durability, protection and maximized grip for trail riders who prefer flat pedals. We laced up a pair of Bontrager’s newest flat-pedal shoes to see if they held up to our standards.
The Flatlines are lighter-weight flat-pedal trail shoes; our pair weighed 780 grams. The shoes feature a Vibram rubber sole and a uniform tread pattern to ensure a strong shoe-to-pedal connection. Directional tread near the toe and heel provides grip during hike-a-bike sections. The shoes are built with shock-absorbing EVA mid-soles and durable, synthetic leather uppers. And last, an Ortholite insole is added to provide comfort.
Bontrager sells these shoes for $103. They are available in both men’s and women’s versions and can be purchased in sizes ranging from 36–48 for the men’s shoe and 36–43 in the women’s model. If you decide the shoes aren’t for you, Bontrager offers a 30-day return policy.
Field test results:
Contrary to popular belief, flat pedals are not just for downhillers and free riders. Many trail riders have reverted back to flats or never left them, simply because they are fun to ride. The Flatline’s lightweight yet durable construction and excellent grip will appeal most to trail riders, although a downhiller or free rider may like the fit, feel and grip of these shoes as well.
During our testing, the shoes provided great traction on the pedals while also offering exceptional grip when hiking. The shoes locked our heel in well, but while breaking in the shoes, we did experience a slight pinch near the tongue. The shoes became more comfortable the more we rode them, which tends to be the case with any new cycling shoes. The laces can be nicely tucked away thanks to a rubber-band-like strap, although we did notice the laces were a bit long, leaving us with a lot to tuck away. The toe box offered plenty of room and had a sturdier toe cap than a basic tennis shoe. If rocky and gnarly trails are your cup of tea, then you may want to look for a shoe that offers a bit more protection. Trail riders, on the other hand, will find Bontrager’s Flatline shoes are a great choice, comfort and traction in a lightweight package. www.trekbikes.com
-Wide range of sizes
-Unreasonably long laces
4 1/2 out of 5
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