Carbon-soled and ready for some extreme riding, both the Mavic Chasm and the Bontrager RXL are well-equipped kicks that demand some attention all dressed in white. Priced at $240 (Chasm) and $275 (RXL), these shoes offer two very different fits, covering the two ends of the spectrum.
The fit on the Mavic Chasm is roomy and wide, giving the rider a stable platform and all-day comfort. The upper is a great mix of breathable nylon and supporting synthetic leather designed around Mavic’s Ergo Lite Ratchet and straps. The lower Velcro straps utilize small nylon lines and larger pull tabs to better form to your foot. While the tongue on the Chasm is large and padded, it does protrude quite a bit past the ratcheting strap. This protrusion made the junction between shin and foot awkward, but not uncomfortable. With all the room the Chasm has to offer, you can expect some lateral play. Overall the fit on the Mavic Chasm was comfortable and perfect for long rides.
The Bontrager RXL is a glove-like-fitting shoe that has a few more bells and whistles than the Chasm. Most notable is the heat moldable insole, which is very easy to do at home. Front to back, the RXL is somewhat narrow but maintains wiggle room in the toe box. Bontrager also did a great job designing a heel cup that is comfortable and secure. Heel to toe, Bontrager had protection in mind and utilizes a rough sandpaper-like synthetic on the lower edge of the shoe. The strap system is the only thing on this shoe that seems standard with its micro-fit buckle coupled with two Velcro straps, something commonplace for competitive-grade shoes. Overall the fit features of the RXL produce a very comfortable experience with minimal lateral play and a heel that just doesn’t slip.
Both the Mavic and the Bontrager are outstanding shoes and each excelled at something different. The Chasm has a stiffer sole, and with its Contagrip tread, it excelled in the steepest and most technical hike-a-bike sections. Having had to do this several times in some very rocky terrain, you’d expect the wear and tear to be accelerated, but the Chasm handled the abuse like a champ and showed few signs of torture. This ability to take abuse doesn’t come cheap in the weight category; the Chasm is 40 grams heavier per shoe over the Bontrager. To be fair the RXL is Bontrager’s top-of-the-line MTB shoe designed for racing, and the Chasm is one step down on the Mavic food chain. While the Bontrager may not be the best when it comes to hike-a-bike terrain, it does excel on several fronts, and it has its racing DNA to thank for that. It simply inspires confidence between you and your pedal with minimal lateral play and the glove-like fit and feel. Several times during testing the rough protective material was put to the test grazing boulders and needlepoint cactus, and while it got abused, the shoe still looks like new.
Both the Mavic Chasm and the Bontrager RXL are great choices for a solid MTB shoe. But depending on your personal fit preference and intended trail use, one will be better than the other. Mavic meets and exceeds in long epic rides and wider feet, while Bontrager excels in weight and a snug fit. And don’t be shy about picking up white shoes: They still clean up nicely after major abuse.