Comfortable but very wide, the Bont Helix shoes are a good prospect from the off, even if the retention system isn't as slick as it was hoping
I’m willing to bet that the Bont Helix cycling shoes are probably the only shoes that can boast internal cable routing. In fact, the new shoes are full of design quirks that make them easily identifiable as Bont shoes.
I’d heard tell of just how wide Bont shoes are from colleagues in the office, and these didn’t disappoint. They’ve more wiggle room than any other cycling shoe I’ve tested, and after testing the Specialized S-Works 7 shoes back to back with the Bont Helix it feels like the American brand’s come in at half the width of the Helixes.
It’s obviously deliberate, and Bont’s website explains at length the importance of its anatomical forefoot shape. I’m sure it’ll be a design choice that those with wider feet will love as it does seem most shoes on the market are made for slim feet. I myself fall into the latter category, but I didn’t find the shoes too enormous. In fact, it just allowed my toes to move or I could comfortably wear an extra thick pair of socks.
I’ve been wearing a size 44 and I’ve had no issues with rubbing or pinching, which is a step up on the S-Works 7 shoes that I found you really had to break in. Bont does have an extensive size guide on its website and it’s well worth checking this out before you buy. For perspective, I’m wearing size 44 but usually wear a size 43. They are wide but length-wise I wouldn’t want to go any smaller.
As I’ve previously explained, I do suffer from numb feet when riding in stiff carbon soled shoes. For the most part, the Bont Helix felt more forgiving than the Specialized S-Works 7s, but after about 50km I did still suffer some numbing of my left foot.
This stiffness and the carbon sole probably explains the featherweight of the shoes, with the Bont Helix being some of the lightest I’ve tried at 576g with cleats.
The Bont Helix’s retention system is probably the most unusual that I’ve encountered. The wires cross the tongue of the shoe, entering an internal cable routing port before wrapping around the base and exiting the upper on the other side. If you flip the shoes over you can see the outlines of the cable housing where the sole has been moulded around it.
Despite all of this, it probably isn’t as slick as Bont was hoping, and I don’t think the single Boa dial quite hits the spot. I had to really ratchet it tight to make it feel snugly on, and it then feels tighter across the top than the bottom of the foot.
Watch: April’s tech of the month
Once tight, I found I couldn’t get the tongue of the shoe to sit flush against the top of my foot. I think it’s probably a width thing and if my foot was wider it wouldn’t be a problem. But as is, there’s a gap big enough for me to get my finger in.
A seriously stiff monocoque carbon sole gives these Bonts a performance edge. There’s absolutely no flex through it, and I couldn’t feel any give when working hard in a Zwift session. That same stiffness is present in the uppers, too, creating what feels like a shell around your foot. On the base is a target based system for getting your cleats dialled.
They're quirky and possibly over-designed, but the Bont Helix shoes are comfortable from the off, have really grown on me and would be great shoes if you had wider feet.