Bontrager has taken lessons learned from their phenomenal road shoe line and applied it to the all new RXL MTB. The shoes have been completely redesigned from the ground up to be lighter, stiffer, and more comfortable. Price is on-par with most high-end XC shoes at $275.
The outsole hasn’t seen much change: it still uses Bontrager’s Silver Series carbon with TPU injected lugs, which we’ve found strike a good balance between wear and tackiness. The fore-foot lugs are now replaceable just in case, though.
The upper, on the other hand, is completely new. Starting at the back, a no-slip heel cup now has the added benefit of Bontrager’s integrated Heel Trap, basically a short steel band that can be bent into the shape of your heel for a personalized fit. On the road shoes with the same feature, the design functions beautifully and can be re-bent as many times as you’d like. I’m assuming the RXL’s Heel Trap will function just as well.
Gone are the old modular eSoles insoles of the 2011 version in favor of new inForm heat-moldable modular footbeds. The arch and metatarsal pad can be removed from the rest of the sole, heated, and molded to your particular foot shape.
I’m an enormous fan of the RXXXL road shoe’s fit, which uses the same last and so have the same general shape inside. Just like that shoe, the RXL hits a good equilibrium — not too narrow, not too wide. Out of the box, the arch is a bit higher than on previous Bontrager models, but that can be easily amended with the heat-molding process.
The outers, particularly the hard toe cap, feel tough enough to stand up to a good bit of abuse. But only long term testing will determine whether that’s actually the case.
Holding your foot in place are two Velcro straps and a microfit buckle, which ratchets in 1.5mm increments to fine-tune snugness.
The RXL is available in black and white, and regular or wide foot lasts. Sizes run from 37-48 for the regular width, and 40-48 for the wide.
Check back for a full review of the Bontrager RXL MTB after we get some good trail time in.