2013 Bontrager Shoes, Helmets & Hilo Triathlon Saddle – Unboxed, Weighed & First Impressions

2013 Bontrager XXX road bike shoes review

We recently received a goodie box full of Bontrager’s 2013 products, including the RXXL (Race XXXLite) road shoes shown above. Other items include the new RL mountain bike shoes, the Specter helmet and two versions of the RXL Hilo triathlon saddle, one of which features adjustable nose width!

To be honest, not much has changed other than colors on the RXXXL road shoes, but they remain one of the lighter, sleeker shoes on the market. Introduced in 2011 with a buckle-free Limited edition that chopped ~20g off what’s shown here, this black-to-gray is the new white. The other key difference is the move from a wide-weave carbon sole to a unidirectional finish.

2013 Bontrager XXX road bike shoes review

The sole uses their top level Platinum Series carbon and is quite stiff. The last uses their InForm fitting system and in my experience is pretty darn comfy.

2013 Bontrager XXX road bike shoes review

What makes the shoes so light (and unique) is the upper. Other than the heel cup, it’s a single-seam full mesh piece that has a rubbery/plastic-like finish that’s essentially painted on. At least that’s the effect, and it’s super thin and very light. The mesh is left visible on the tongue and forefoot to let air in.

2013 Bontrager XXX road bike shoes review

The heel cup is the other special bit. It’s a perforated plastic that lets plenty of air in and out to cool your feet. Around the upper edge on the inside uses a directional fabric that has its points aimed downward, keeping your heel stuck in there. One other nice touch is a pull tab on the tongue, which lets you pull it snug so there’s no bunching under the top strap.

2013 Bontrager XXX road bike shoes review

Insoles are light and thin with a bump in the middle to help spread the foot. I can’t notice it when wearing the shoes, but they’re comfortable overall. My size 47 (US 13) shoe weighed in at 266g. Their claimed weight for a size 42 is 235g. Early rides are promising, bolstered by the good fit and comfort of the RXL mountain bike shoes I tested earlier. Retail is $324.99.

2013 Bontrager RL mountain bike shoes

Speaking of mountain bike shoes, the RL is a new model that slots in between the RXL and Race. Compared to the RXL, it uses a fixed length top strap (rather than the length adjustable version that causes a small bump on the inside) that gives the shoe an overall much sleeker appearance.

2013 Bontrager RL mountain bike shoes

It also loses the replaceable tread blocks on the bottom. The upside is this probably saves a few grams, the downside is the tread strips directly adjacent to the pedal mounts are a little taller and make it a bit tougher to click in…I’ll likely trim them down a bit. Once engaged with the pedal, though, I didn’t pop out at all on my test ride.

2013 Bontrager RL mountain bike shoes

Save money and weight: The RL’s are 429g compared to the 445g per shoe for the RXL I tested. Both are size 47 (US13).

2013 Bontrager RL mountain bike shoes

So far, so good. They, like the road shoes, use their Micro Buckle which lets you release/loosen in small increments by hitting one black button at a time. Press them both to release the strap altogether. Other than the differences mentioned, the RL and RXL look remarkable similar save for a carbon sole on the RXL and a composite sole here. Both are plenty stiff while remaining walkable. Retail is $149.99.

2013 Bontrager Specter mountain bike helmet

The new Specter helmet (Spectra for Europe) was introduced earlier this year, check that post for tech specs. Basically, it’s a less expensive version of the Oracle that’s still fully featured and actually a bit lighter. I’ve ridden in both now, and both are quite comfortable. I do wish they would get down around the 220g weight, but if you’re used to a 315-340 gram lid, me thinks you’ll be quite pleased with either one.

2013 Bontrager Specter mountain bike helmet

Retention mech has a large, easy to turn dial and is height adjustable. The visor pops off and it comes with small plugs to cover the mounting holes. Large front vents let plenty of air in.

2013 Bontrager Specter mountain bike helmet

The size medium with visor comes in at 315g.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

One of the more interesting pieces is the new RXL Hilo saddle with Speed Dial. The standard RXL Hilo has a fixed width split nose, but the Speed Dial version lets you adjust the gap’s width up to 16mm.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

The adjustment is made via an allen key at the nose. Hard to see here, but the tail of the saddle has a small hook on either side that lets you hang your bike on the racks in T1 facing out, making it quicker to pull it out and go. Nice touch.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

Turning the bolt pulls two other bolts through angled slots and spreads or closes the two sides of the saddle.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

Compared to the standard Hilo, you can see how much wider you can make it.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

And from the top, shown in full open and closed positions. Well, at least this is where the minimum spread marker is, you can get it to close in a bit more. The point of all this is to let the rider fine tune the fit and feel to their anatomy.

2013 Bontrager RXL Hilo speed dial triathlon adjustable bike saddle

All that hardware comes at a cost, though. On the scale, it’s 69 grams heavier than the standard Hilo RXL, and at the register it’s $249.99 versus $179.99.

The relief channel runs the length of the saddle, and the cover has textured sections under your sit bones to keep you from slipping down. Construction is a carbon fiber reinforced shell with hollow titanium rails. This is the one item we haven’t ridden yet. They’ll be shipped off to Erik to test shortly as a follow up to his review of the Hilo tri shoes.

 

 

Comments

Meta - 09/14/12 - 7:16pm

Bontrager’s shoes have never been elegant. They simply look cheap. Can’t they better designers!

Meta - 09/14/12 - 7:16pm

Bontrager’s shoes have never been elegant. They simply look cheap. Can’t they better designers!

Josh - 09/14/12 - 9:47pm

I switched to theRL mtb shoes a couple weeks ago and they are great both in value and performance

Evan - 09/14/12 - 10:14pm

@ Meta,what, so they can look more like Rapha? I have the original XXX Lite Limited Edition and in my opinion they are a great, under rated shoe.

mike - 09/14/12 - 10:26pm

split-nose saddles are the best.

gh - 09/15/12 - 5:03am

très mauvaise qualité je suis a la deuxième paire sous garantie
les boucles en plastique noire casse sans raison donc pas terrible

Matt - 09/15/12 - 1:45pm

If it doesn’t have the Boa system, it is old technology.

Bazookasean - 09/15/12 - 4:40pm

exept my velcro a buckles don’t break as often as a Boa system. I don’t care if they’re warrantied for life. I’ve had more than on ride canceled due to a broken Boa.

Bazookasean - 09/15/12 - 4:40pm

*and

DhBrO - 09/16/12 - 12:20pm

Boas give you plenty of warning before they break in any location (dial, string, spool)

Robert - 09/16/12 - 1:26pm

dont knock it till you try it!.. those are some amazing shoes

Hami - 09/17/12 - 11:19am

I have a years experience with the redesigned RXXXL road shoes. The article doesnt detail the ventilation much, the shoes are bananas. Especially in the heel where air doesn’t simply get funneled into the shoe.

I also have 2-3 years experience with the RXL mountain shoes. I would not hesitate in the least to reccomend these shoes, i am satisfied 100% on every ride.

Mikey - 09/21/12 - 1:25am

I’ve been using a fair bit of the new Bontrager stuff because my local shop stopped stocking my old favourites like continental, ritchey and sidi. I switched from Sidi shoes to Bontrager RXL mountain shoes and even though I had one problem early on with the buckle this has been fixed and the shoes are easily among the most comfortable and stiff I’ve used so far. The same goes with all the other products from bontrager i’ve tried recently. Hats off to the guys at Trek and keep the good stuff coming, its well priced, and most importantly it just works beautifully.
I’ll be the first to second what Robert said – dont knock it till you’ve tried it !

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