Even at the original price, it's got great value compared to what the competition is offering. Today was the first time in over 10 years that I spent more than $75 on shoes. I had been really used to my Los Angeles Fashion district $25/pair dress shoes for a decade. Sitting here on the couch after slipping these suckers on, they feel super comfortable. Much more comfy than I can say for the other Shimano ones I've tried on on the past.
I was looking for a red and white pair, but I decided on the black/red theme knowing that white would just get dirty too quickly. All my white jackets are yellow or brown. I learned my lesson. The black base color had the perfect amount of red accent for my taste.
After comparing other shoes w/in the same price range, I quickly realized that there wasn't much competition when it comes to mountain bike cycling shoes with a ratchet strap. Most around $150 come with only Velcros which isn't bad, but why not have the more secure ratchet strap if you can get it? There's good value in this shoe. I think there's only one other shoe that has both the ratchets and have a carbon fiber sole for under $150. I don't remember the brand exactly, but it's manufactured by Performance Bicycle.
Yes, fitment is indeed a word. When commenting to the first sales person how comfortable these kicks felt, he told me that it's a "hit or miss" with many customers. Some people love them while others feel the arch is too extreme. But this can be changed! I looked in the shoe and found a web link to a company called Esoles and this is what their website had to say,
Bontrager is the only cycling shoe on the market specifically designed to accommodate a custom or customizable insole.
Sounds like the Bontragers have interchangable soles! But still don't buy these things online w/o sticking your foot in one first. Anyone considering cycling shoes is probably serious enough about riding to do it for 50 miles at a time. Needless to say, comfort is superimportant for these long rides.
Although the text on the straps looks a bit tacky, the quality of the shoe itself is pretty good. It's noticeably better than the Shimano's and other shoes I've tried on with the exception of the Sidi ones which better be nicer for the $275 price tag. There's no way I'm spending that on shoes, so Sidi was out of the picture. As far as I know, the only pair they have under $200 still doesn't have the ratchet strap. Every other shoe that I've tried on have all felt like pieces of rubber and plastic wrapped around my foot. The Bontrager RL was the only one that actually felt like a shoe. It's the only one where I could honestly see where my money was going.
The first pair of Bontrager's that I brought home had a very pronounced seam that I felt on the inner inside lining right of the tongue on the left shoe. This has disappeared on the current pair. Quality control problem? I don't think it was my socks b/c I tried the same pair of RL's with two different pairs of socks. Not sure what's going on.
I'm waiting until tomorrow to try these suckers outside my Living Room.