When it comes to sport-specific footwear, comfort isn’t always priority number one. Sometimes performance factors take the front seat, but Bontrager’s Rally Mountain Shoe rode well while keeping my feet cozy and coddled. I got my hands on a pair late this summer, and rode them throughout the fall.
After several weeks of riding, I came away pleased with the Rally Mountain Shoes’ comfort and fit, plus their off-bike walkability and traction. These shoes provide a supportive sole for pedalling without sacrificing all their flexibility, and they held my feet securely with no squirming around or heel lifting.
Rally Mountain Shoe Construction:
The Rally Mountain shoe is made with a synthetic leather upper, complemented with GnarGuard abrasion-resistant toe and heel caps. The toe box is also reinforced to reduce the impact of rock strikes. The shoes feature a shock-absorbing EVA midsole to provide a little cushion as you rattle down the trail.
Closure is handled by traditional shoe laces and a Velcro strap to keep your heel locked down. Bontrager also included tongue elastics; I’ve heard some people don’t like this feature in their shoes, but I don’t mind them, and they never forced my socks to bunch up uncomfortably. With its simple and neutral styling, the Rally is considered a unisex shoe.
The Rally shoe is compatible with two-bolt SPD style cleats. Although the cleat fully sinks into the sole’s cut-out, the Rally’s outsole was kept flat to accommodate various clipless pedals, particularly those with cages (I ran Shimano XT pedals with no issues).
I found the Rally Mountain shoes quite comfortable, right from day one. I broke them in a bit on my commuter bike before taking them to the trails, but I likely could have gotten away without doing so. For me, the Rally’s fit is great. I vary between sizes 9 or 9.5 depending on the brand, and Bontrager’s size 9 worked for me.
I had zero issues with the shoe’s shape, and never experienced any pressure points (my feet are pretty normal shape-wise… if anything they’re a bit wide). Bontrager has generously padded the Rally’s cuff at the sides and back, and the tongue is pretty cushy too.
Walking around off the bike in the Rally shoes isn’t at all awkward or uncomfortable – The soles are certainly stiffer than flat pedal shoes, but they do give up a bit of flex. The stiff section around the cleat is noticeable, but it doesn’t feel like an annoying lump under your foot.
As stated above, the Rally shoes were comfortable right away and never presented any comfort issues during my test. The soles did a fine job of preventing that ‘crow’s feet’ feeling, and the EVA midsole does help reduce vibrations and impacts.
The Velcro ankle strap could sit a bit flatter on the shoe. When cinched down, the higher edge of the strap presses against the shoe, while the lower edge hovers a few mm’s above the tongue. That said, I didn’t find it created a pressure point atop my foot, and it definitely helps keep your heel down when you’re pulling up on the pedals.
I didn’t have the chance to ride these shoes in really hot weather, but I can tell you after riding them in the cold they’re not overly warm! While there are no big vents, the Rally’s tongue has a lightweight mesh on top, and there are vent holes on both sides of the shoe. This is not a hot or cold weather specific shoe, so I’d say Bontrager has struck a nice balance between protection and all-season comfort.
Setting up cleats on the Rally shoes was no problem, there was plenty of room to get the cleats positioned and lots of space for adjustment. My SPD cleats don’t stick out beyond the shoe’s outsole at all, so walking on flat surfaces was comfortable. As long as you don’t step right on the cleat, the soles provide good grip on rocks and roots.
I haven’t put a ton of mileage on the Rallys yet, but so far mine have no damage whatsoever to speak of. Bontrager’s Rally Mountain shoe retails for $149.99, and can be purchased online or at Trek retailers. Color options are Black, Nautical Navy and Olive Grey, and sizes range from 36-48 (US 3.5–14.5).