Review: Bontrager Ballista Road Shoe

THE DETAILS

The Bontrager Ballista is a pro-caliber road shoe with sleek styling, a single heel mounted BOA dial and stiffness to boot. The lightweight construction with slipper like fit is designed for full-gas performance.

They are available in sizes 36 to 48, with half size options. It’s a unisex offering with a nylon upper, polyester liner and carbon sole.


Bontrager Ballista

  • 100% Carbon sole
  • Heel mounted BOA dial
  • Fused upper construction
  • Colours: White
  • Stiffness Index: 12 out of 14
  • 472g (pair, size 43)
  • R4 699
  • www.trekbikes.com


CONSTRUCTION

The Ballista is the stiffest in the Bontrager shoe range thanks to the 100% carbon sole construction. One single stitch down the heel with a fused upper gives the shoes a decidedly smooth and aero look.

The single BOA dial mounted on the heel simplifies the fastening process. The BOA wire runs around the sides of the shoe before snaking across the front and upper area. This ‘heel reel’ fastening process is designed to draw your foot down and back to create a secure heel lock for a more efficient pedal stroke.

Ample venting around the sides, the toe area and upper aid the breathability. The tongue has a decent amount of padding and the heel cup has a tacky liner which improves comfort and hold.



ON THE BIKE

The BOA dial has dual-direction micro-adjustability. The heel location of the BOA is surprisingly easy to reach when on the bike. I am a big fan of the BOA system, especially for road and gravel riding. I was, however a little skeptical about the shoe only having a single BOA with no additional tension adjust.

CAPE TOWN - 15 December 2018 - during a photoshoot of the Trek Powerfly and Cannondale System 6 for BikeNetwork.co.za with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin

The fit of the Ballista is quite spacious, decent arch support with a slight tapering near the toe area. With no zonal tension adjust I tended to crank the BOA dial up pretty tight to get a snug fit. The soft tongue and cushioning support around the ankle, together with the placement of the BOA wire means the shoe is not uncomfortable when nipped up tight – for my feet anyways. The fit is best described as a ‘wrap around’ feel as opposed to a ‘strap down’ feel.

After a few rides, the initial skepticism abated. The Ballista’s offer slipper-like comfort with good heel support. The toe box is snug but not cramped. What is immediately noticeable is the weight. They are pretty light, in fact, the weight saving of around 50g over my regular road shoes is very noticeable on the bike as it makes every pedal stroke more sprightly.



SUMMARY

The Ballista’s are lighter and stiffer than most of the road shoes I have used, but not the absolute stiffest. The ventilation is good, the heel tread is good, the cleat placement is good and the material is pretty durable with minimal scuffing after many miles and coffee stops. They are a great all round performance shoe and the styling is dope.


Images: @garyperkin



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