Product detail specs on the Trek website whiff of hyperbole: “...optimized, Tachyon, asymmetrical, GnarGuard...” No question Trek puts much into its R&D and continually pumps out quality so I was anxious to give this eye popping shoe a try.
The colours jump out...the pair I received are Azure Blue and they definitely received some comments at the trail head today akin to the squeaky clean new high tops your Mum got you for hoops in Grade 9. Other colour options are Grey/Viper Red or the muted Black but it appears to me Bontrager wants these shoes to be noticed. And for good reason.
What jumps out from the branding is the absence of the word ‘bike.’ This isn’t a Mountain Bike Shoe, this is a Mountain Shoe. I have been thinking about this plenty since receiving these as the shoes have a road appearance. Perhaps this is the David Bowie of the shoe market or in other words, the gender-bender genius.
This high performance shoe comes with a super stiff carbon sole and the latest gen BOA cincher over an assymetrical flap design which provides an ergonomically snug fit. It is noticeably light. I have a medium width foot and this shoe fit perfectly but I suspect our Hobbit Footed friends will have a tougher time with these. There is a single Velcro band at the bottom of the lace up area but it appears to be redundant as the shoe is so narrow, that I cannot cinch it any tighter to increase performance. The svelte appearance of the shoe is offset by a minimalist yet aggressive tread pattern on the sole featuring Tachyon Rubber and Shimano two bolt cleat set up with two aggressive hiking lug options. There is a standard/typical lug and a secondary mud lug option effectively shaped like a paddle.
The mud lug (ensconced in cleaver storable packaging) is a dead giveaway for cyclocross racing or hike-ling your bike as you might call it. What a pretty shoe to get muddy! Alas, Bontrager boasts a durable GnarGuard outer material which claims to protect against abrasions and fight debris. Perhaps, but you may consider an after ride Tour de France shoe wipe for these beauties!
One notable feature which I have not seen before is a veritable fish scale material in the heal cup making it very easy to slide into the shoe but slide the material in the other direction and the material becomes tackier. I can really feel a nice tight heal pocket when pedalling. There is a well perforated synthetic upper which is very breathable but puts this shoe in the summer category unless you select a shoe cover. The Trek website offers a wide range of size options to optimize fit solutions for a wide range of riders.
Overall, the shoe is a versatile performance orientated tool which has the capacity to cross between singletrack XC, cyclocross and gravel riding. I would rate these a solid 4 out of 5.