Review: Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike Shoes

The Triple X is the top of the line mountain bike race shoe from Bontrager and is fittingly premium in look and feel.

Bontrager XXX Shoe Details

  • Dual independent BOA dials
  • 100% OCLV carbon sole
  • Stiffness index 14/14
  • No-slip heel lining
  • “Gnar-guard” toe box
  • 2 year warranty
  • Black or navy/pink options
  • LTD edition available in red
  • 356g; half pair, with cleats, size 43
  • R6 499
  • trekbikes


Fit, Comfort & Performance

In terms of the fit, the XXX shoes have a locked, loaded and ready to sprint feel. There is virtually zero wiggling around of the foot, or sliding of the heel, yet there is ample space in the toe box to move your toes about. The shoe is designed precisely to maximize efficiency — which is exactly what XC, cyclocross and gravel racers are after. Underneath the dual BOA dials, the asymmetrically designed tongue extends a fair way down the side of the foot with very few seams or bulges on the inside. The lining of the shoe features additional padding to eliminate pinching, reduce the chances of hot spots and rubbing.

To improve the comfort, this latest iteration of the Triple X has a revised lacing pattern which Bontrager says reduces the pressure on the top of your foot whilst still keeping the fit secure. I agree with that. The heel cup is more staunch than other shoes I have tried and its shape creates a snug feel which would naturally offer good efficiency. This shoe has road-shoe-like stiffness which is one of the reasons it is so efficient in the power transfer department. On longer rides – over five hours – I did battle with the stiffness which created some discomfort. However, after switching to a slightly thicker inner sole, the discomfort was gone.

A few years ago, whilst riding a gnarly trail, a rock strike resulted in a 5cm slice through the sole and uppers of the shoe I was using. It literally looked like someone took an angle grinder to my shoe. It was an absolute miracle that I was not injured at all. Needless to say, I value toe protection more than most and the ‘Gnar-guard’ reinforced toe area of these XXX shoes seems pretty sturdy. After about 12 weeks of riding trails there is a little scuffing appearing on the shoe, but to be fair I really have abused them on the roughest trails the Cape has to offer – with the occasional hike a bike. Across a variety of surfaces, the rubber lugs provide decent off-the-bike traction and there is an option to add two standard studs to improve grip in muddy conditions. These shoes are made for racing though – and if all-out performance is what you are after, then these tick all the boxes.



Takeout

High levels of efficiency, stiffness and reliability in a race shoe are of no benefit if they are uncomfortable. So whilst these XXX are not the absolute lightest on the market, it is their combination of comfort with overall performance, which makes them stand out. If you have a little extra in your budget, check out the LTD edition which are pretty damn dope looking too.

Related: Trek Supercaliber 9.9 AXS

| IMAGES Gary Perkin flipper.co.za | LOCATION: Bloemendal |


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