Founded in 1975, Bont Cycling is an Australian company that is well known for their carbon moldable shoes and anatomical shoe designs. The Vaypor S has been one of Bont Cycling’s most popular cycling shoe models and there is a good reason for that. They combine a heat moldable unidirectional carbon fiber outsole with a dual dial BOA fixture system for a stiff and lightweight cycling shoe. In this review we will be looking at their latest variation, the Vaypor S Reflex which adds a retro-reflective coating for nighttime visibility. Within the new Reflex product line, you can choose from either the Helix or Vaypor S shoes and two color variations for each – the “Ghost” (silver color, reviewed here) and “Havoc” (dark gray color).
While Bont Cycling Vaypor S Reflex shoes high performance and lightweight focus might be initially intimidating, the anatomical fit provides power transfer and all day comfort.
Additionally, Bont Cycling offers a wide range of sizes as well as a full customization option. There are an impressive four width variations (standard, wide, narrow and asian) as well as 36-50 EUR sizes. There are two flavors of customization: semi-custom (custom color) or full-custom (outsole designed around your foot casting + custom color). In this review, we will simply be looking at the standard Vaypor S Reflex which retails for $379 in a EUR 44 wide variation. The shoes also tipped our scales at a feathery 548 grams which is impressive for the features.
|Category||Cycling Shoes (Road)|
|Measured Weight (in g)||548 (EUR 44 Wide)|
|Likes|| + Heat Moldable Chassis|
+ Retroreflective Finish
+ Anatomical Fit
|Dislikes||– Premium Price|
– Aesthetically not as engaging as other shoes
– Limited US distributors to try them in person
|Where to Buy (US)||Bont Cycling|
The Vaypor S Reflex comes in a standard cardboard shoe box with the Bont Cycling logo on top. A size chart is printed on the underside of the box as well.
In the box you’ll find:
- Vaypor S Reflex shoes
- Branded carry bag
- 6x spare cleat bolts
FIT & FINISH
You would be hard pressed to find a cycling shoe that doesn’t include the word ‘anatomical fit’ somewhere in their marketing material. Bont Cycling has taken that to the next level by crafting each component of the Vaypor S Reflex shoes to maximize power transfer and fit. Visually this means the Vaypor S Reflex shoes, like most Bont Cycling shoes, have a profile that matches the contours of your feet instead of the traditional narrow form. This ‘function over form’ philosophy results in a carbon outsole that is wide and wraps around the heel cup as well as the toes to provide maximum support. The upper surface is made from Durolite which feels much stiffer than traditional materials but evenly distributes tension.
As a part of the Reflex product line, the Vaypor S Reflex has a unique retro-reflective finish that improves your nighttime visibility. Bont Cycling offers two color variations with creative names: Ghost and Havoc. During the day, the Ghost shoes could be mistaken for a matte gray, but up close they have a slight sparkle/reflective finish. Especially compared to the more flashy color variations the Vaypor S Reflex is offered in, the Reflex versions have an understated sleek look. At night, the shoes really light up with any ambient light. The reflective finish and the rotational motion of your legs means you’ll be hard to miss when riding in low light situations.
Bont Cycling has incorporated a dual BOA IP1 dial system for the closure system. These are the top of the line model BOA dials, which means they allow for micro adjustments to tighten or loosen them. To fully release the tension, you simply pull up on the dial. A traditional lacing pattern is used to allow the upper dial to control the fit around the ankle, and the lower dial to adjust the tension on the forward portion of the shoe. Although lace-up shoes have gained in popularity, we prefer the BOA dials as they allow on-the-fly one handed adjustments while riding.
Also the wrap around design of the upper dial meant the tension was well distributed on our rides with no hot spots. The Vaypor S Reflex does use a traditional tongue design, but Bont Cycling has utilized very soft material which means it doesn’t bunch up even when tightened down. We also didn’t experience any pressure points where the tongue touches your ankle thanks to the material choice. What was particularly unique about wearing the Vaypor S Reflex was that we often found ourselves riding with the dials far looser than with traditional shoes. We associated this with the anatomical fit, which allowed us to keep the tension loose while still getting full power transfer during sprints.
With the high performance nature of the Vaypor S Reflex we were initially concerned that Bont Cycling might have sacrificed comfort for speed. Especially with the stiff upper material (note the Vaypor+ has a more supple upper) and thin inner lining, the Vaypor S Reflex can be intimidating. As someone with wider feet, high arches and hammertoes we were a bit hesitant about how the shoes would fit our anatomy. Out of the box, the shoes felt light with plenty of space in the toe box but had a few pressure points along the arch and big toe. This gave us a great opportunity to try heat molding the shoes for ourselves. After two attempts at heat molding, there was a remarkable improvement as the outsoles conformed to our feet.
The pressure point at the big toe was gone, while the sole had adjusted to the contours of our arches for a nice even pressure distribution. On the road this meant the Vaypor shoes felt light and comfortable whether we were trying to set a PR on a local climb or going on long and steady rides. The dual dial closure system allowed us to also easily adjust the fit on the fly to adapt to changing temperature. As someone with wide feet, the Vaypor S Reflex shoes were particularly eye-opening in terms of comfort. On the road, the low stack height and anatomical fit made it feel like we were pedaling with just socks with direct power transfer.
We also found that the shoes provide impressive ventilation which meant our feet felt comfortable even as the outside temperature rose. The grid of perforations on the front of the shoes funnel air on top of your feet. The additional vents on the toe guard also kept the bottom of our feet cool. Wearing wool socks on colder days also meant we didn’t get cold feet with the Vaypor S Reflex shoes as well.
COMPARISON with S-PHYRE + FLRs
Given the high price of the Vaypor S Reflex shoes, it’s natural to wonder how they compare to other shoes on the market. In particular, Shimano’s S-PHYRE RC 9 shoes offer a similar integrated outsole and upper design and flagship features. We found that while the Vaypor S Reflex didn’t have the eye catching visual design the RC9 shoes have (particularly in the color shiftng blue) they offered similar stiffness and lightweight. However, what the Vaypor S Reflex lacks in aesthetics is made up for with the wide fit and anatomical design that made the shoes feel like they disappeared on the road. The heat moldable option with the Vaypor S shoes also means even if you fit within the average 90% percentile of foot anatomy, you can customize the fit for additional comfort.
If the price point of the Vaypor S Reflex is a deterrent, you may be considering the stiff and high performing FLR F-XX II shoes are nearly half the price or similar shoes. The F-XX II shoes have a single piece upper and dual ATOP dial fixture system. Compared to the Vaypor S Reflex shoes, the FLR’s have a more traditional two-piece design that you’ll find in more affordable shoes. This means the outsoles are generally re-used on different models and the uppers are simply attached. While they still offer great performance on the road, the Vaypor S’s carbon chassis provides that extra 10% that results in meaningful improvements in speed and comfort.
Overall, we found that the Bont Cycling Vaypor S Reflex is an impressive high-performance carbon cycling shoe. Bont Cycling’s attention to detail and anatomical design means the Vaypor S shoes have an integrated design with stiff carbon chassis and upper surface working together. The Reflex variation also means the retro-reflective finish will ensure you remain visible in low light situations and give shoes a unique matte-like appearance. Whether you have narrow or wide feet, Bont Cycling provides enough sizing options to ensure there are enough variations to match anyone’s feet. The heat molding feature of the carbon chassis to provide a full-custom fit that is typically reserved for fully-custom shoes is the best feature about these. While the Vaypor S shoes aren’t the most affordable cycling shoes on the market, the unique fit and premium finish mean it’s definitely a cycling shoe to consider whether you’re a pro-racer or just a weekend-warrior.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Bont Cycling. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.