Back in August, Bontrager released the Rally Mountain Shoe, a clipless follow up to their Flatline flat pedal shoe. While there are a few differentiations beyond the sole, both shoes share a similar silhouette as well as a handful of defining features. The Trek owned brand was kind enough to send a set of the new shoes out for testing in advance of the release date, so I’ve had sufficient time on them to share some thoughts in a review. Here’s how they’ve been working out…
- Durable synthetic leather upper
- Abrasion-resistant coating on the heel and toe caps for added durability
- A reinforced, durable toe box for improved protection
- Shock-absorbing EVA midsole
- Hook-and-loop strap provides a more secure fit that hugs your foot in place
- Compatible with 2-bolt SPD-style cleats
- US Men’s size 3.5-14.5
- 3 colorways
- 884 grams (pair, our scale – size 11.5 US)
Much like the Flatline, the shoes feature a nicely padded cuff. There were no hot spots nor were there any weird fitting high or low parts. In terms of plushness, it’s worth noting that the Rally didn’t feel “snowboard boot stiff” at the ankles like some shoes can. They are slightly less structured than some other options though.
Flat laces and correspondingly shaped eyelets keep things tidy while preventing the laces from getting twisted around. The tongue has a fair amount of padding – enough that I didn’t really feel the laces bite, even when I had overtightened them.
The toe bumper has a “Rhino liner” type feel to it – similar to gritty sand paper. The bumper is durable and offers a fair level of protection from unwanted toe strikes.
As the Rally is meant to satisfy everything ranging from the trail bike to DH crowd, the cleat pocket sits a little further back. At around 35mm long, the slots offer a good, wide range of adjustment.
Unlike the Flatline, there was no tab to keep the laces in place. Rather suitably for a clipless shoe, Bontrager opted for a wide single strap running across above the arch of the foot.
The Rally Mountain Shoe’s outsoles in all of their glory. If you’re familiar with the flatline, you can see the obvious similarities.
Last but not least, an EVA padded midsole is featured for shock absorption. Also pictured – the same material that protects the toe also wraps around the heel for added durability.
On the trail
I had been wearing the Giro Chamber II prior to testing the Rally and was quite impressed with them, save for the fact that they weren’t the best when it came to walking and hiking around off-bike. In comparison, the Rally Mountain has a more forgiving sole…That factor and the Rally’s softer rubber compound at the outsole being being the main reasons for its superiority when tromping around off-bike, both in terms of traction and comfort. As someone who’s stumbling around shooting photos and also riding in deep to do trail work, walkability is very important to me, but I realize that it isn’t the top priority for everyone. Anyhow, added give did mean that the shoe had slightly less power transfer due to their inherent flex in the shank, but they were also more forgiving, so my feet have seemed less prone to cramping on long rides. Lastly on that note, my pedals were less apt to unintentionally unclip when attempting to make weird shapes on the bike.
As for comfort, the Rally Mountains left me with nothing to complain about in terms of features, fit and materials used. If I had one minor gripe – keep in mind this is more due to a personal quirk – I have rather high arches, and while the footbed was soft and relatively comfortable, I do prefer a bit more contour and arch support. One could always throw in some Superfeet if it actually bothered them enough though. Outside of that, the heel and toe bumpers lent themselves to improved durability in high abrasion zones, without being too bulky. I loved the flat laces as they didn’t get messy or twisted up, and the strap was nice not just for keeping the laces in place, but also for mid ride cinching. I only tested the Rally Mountain Shoe with a set of Time ATAC Speciale pedals. The rearward pins did dig into the sole slightly, but not enough to make entry/release difficult, nor did it beat the shoe up over time. I ran the cleats slid all the way back, but bolted them into the forward set of attachment points, meaning I had more room to go further back still. That rearward most position would likely be quite ideal for Downhill or Enduro racing, which goes to show how versatile the shoes are. Lastly, when it came to breathability and how quickly they dried, the Rally Mountains were a bit better than the average shoes in their category.
Compared to most clipless shoe offerings that make up the more casual looking side of the market, I’ve been very very happy with the Rally Mountain. The competition is stiff and there are great options from Five.Ten, Specialized, Giro and more, but I think the Rally fills a void left by the Vans Warner shoes from some years back, while being much lighter in weight and offering a better design overall. I’m personally drawn to them for their comfort, protection and walkability due to their slightly more forgiving soles. If you’re obsessed with power transfer, there are loads of other options out there. Personally, I think that most casual shoes are a bit too stiff and that should be saved for XC style shoes. If you’re a clipless pedal rider that also likes to screw around off bike a bit more, these are the shoes for you, for sure.
In summary, I’d love to say something catchy like “these are the downhiller’s trail shoes” or “the flat pedal rider’s clipless shoes”, but despite being fairly light weight, they’re substantial enough that you could race DH in them or you could wear them for a 40 mile ride on the trail bike. All in all, if you’re in the market for new shoes in this budding category of “clipless shoes that look like flat pedal shoes”, the Rally Mountains should be placed at the top of your list to try for size at your local shop.