A mountain bike show on road.cc, surely some mistake? Well actually, mountain bike shoes like the new Bontrager Evokes are ideal for commuting, touring and general road riding. With a bit more flex and a treaded sole they're both comfortable on the bike and for walking, and the simple looks are a bit more sedate than some of the shiny futuristic carbon fibre road shoes out there.
I regularly use mountain bike shoes when cycling through the winter. I don't need the outright performance of a super lightweight shoe nor the extreme stiffness that comes from a carbon fibre sole. The Evoke has enough stiffness for good pedalling performance though, I certainly don't feel any slower, and the little bit of flex does make them a bit more comfortable on longer rides.
Their treaded sole also makes them easier to walk in, which has benefits when popping into the cafe or coffee shop for a mid ride cake. Equally, they're beneficial for daily commuting, because when you get to the office you can walk around normally, not skate or hobble across the floor on exposed cleats. And if you dabble in cyclocross or mountain bike during winter, which I do, the shoes work well there too, especially with the aggressive tread pattern on the sole. That makes them a really versatile option for non-racers.
The shoe is made with a glass-reinforced internal nylon sole plate that offers enough flex for comfortable pedalling and walking, without compromising pedalling efficiency. The shoes are held in place with three Velcro straps which let you tailor the fit nicely, with an even distribution of pressure. Even with the straps reasonably loose, the shoes stayed place on the foot with little heel lift, and equally with the straps clamped down there was no excess tightness or restriction of blood flow.
A Tachyon rubber outsole, claims Bontrager, gives good grip on slippery surfaces, like rocks if you're mountain biking. You could swap rocks for cobblestones or slippery, leaf-covered lanes. The shoes are robust, with a reinforced toe box and side sections that on a recent cyclo-cross ride proved invaluable when clomping through a rocky bog.
Fit is excellent. The size 45 I tested fits well, with enough space around the toes and midfoot. Bontrager use their inForm Race Last for the shape which they say gives a performance fit with extra space around the ball and midfoot area.
My only gripe with the shoes is the huge panel of mesh over the toe area, which proves draughty in the recent cold weather, and also lets in a fair amount of water from splashing through puddles.
Good option for commuting or touring, or if you a little more comfort and off the bike versatility.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Evoke Mountain Shoe
Size tested: 45, Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The perfect all-around MTB shoe: The Evoke MTB shoe is tough, secure and stiff enough for solid power transfer with enough flex for hike-a-bike sections. Simple, minimal strap closures keep your the weight (and your heels) down and Tachyon rubber lugs stick to rocks and roots.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
inForm Race last - High performance fit designed to be slightly roomier from the ball through the mid-foot.
Glass-reinforced internal nylon plate with full Tachyon rubber outsole for superior off-bike traction
Stiffness index 6
3-Strap Hook and Loop - Minimal and reliable hook and loop closure system
GnarGuard - Outer protection against trail brush and debris for increased durability
Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee
Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee
Solidly constructed with rugged reinforced front and side sections and an aggressive treaded sole.
They're not as stiff as an outright road shoe, but I didn't the lack of stiffness slowing me down much. The little bit of flex does mean they're superbly comfortable for longer winter training rides, and also ideal for walking, making them an excellent commuter shoe.
They're tough and robust shoes that look built to last.
They're a bit heavier than road shoes on account of the treaded sole, but I didn't feel the weight negatively impacted their performance.
Excellent fit and comfortable sole.
£100 is a lot of money for a pair of shoes but if you're looking for a good shoe that has the versatility to be used for a number of cycling disciplines, this is a good option.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For regular road riding they fit the purpose.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Their suitability for road riding, cyclocross, mountain biking and commuting.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The large mesh panel lets in the cold and damp.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
They'd be almost perfect if it weren't for the large mesh panel.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.