Before plunking down the cash for Bont’s uber-stiff Vaypor S shoes, ask yourself a question, and answer honestly: Are you more of a racer, or an everyday rider? The Vaypor S shoes are race-bred and if you’re toeing the starting line anytime soon, you’ll find a lot to love about them. But if you’re more of an all-conditions rider with no race aspirations, these shoes may be overkill for you, especially given the price tag.
Why? For starters, they’re quite possibly the stiffest shoes I’ve ever worn. This is obviously great for power transfer and responsiveness — less sole flex means less power lost between you and your bike — but it’s not always the best option for all-day or all-conditions comfort. When I rode these shoes on washboard dirt roads, I got a high-frequency vibration between my foot and the unyielding sole, which led to some temporary discomfort. Another tester said he felt a bit uncomfortable especially in the super-stiff arches. Racers will take this trade-off for the power transfer, but if you’re looking for the balance between comfort and performance, this isn’t ideal.
That said, the Vaypor S shoes have rapidly become one of my favorite pairs. After a bit of a break-in period — the ankles are stiff out of the box but loosen up after a few rides — these slipper-like shoes are accommodating for a variety of foot shapes and sizes. The generous toe box is ideal for riders with wide feet, yet I, of the narrow-footed ilk, found them to be equally comfortable thanks in large part to two well-placed Boa closures, one on the forefoot and one at the ankle. I was able to snug these up despite the extra toe box room (often with a lot of micro-adjusting in the first minute or two of my ride), and there was no pinching or discomfort over the top of my foot.
The Vaypors are heat-moldable for a custom fit. One of our testers went through the heat-molding process at home and didn’t feel a significant change in the way the shoes fit, but he was content knowing it was possible to customize the shoe. My pair fit well out of the box, so I didn’t feel a need to heat-mold them. I was especially impressed with the comfortable and secure heel cup; not once did I experience any heel slippage or hot spots.
There’s no question the Vaypors are excellent shoes, but if you’re the non-racer type, you might want to look into one of Bont’s other offerings that don’t focus so much on stiffness. The supple, comfortable uppers and distinctive aesthetics run through the company’s line of shoes, so you’ll still get much of what makes a Bont a Bont.