Bontrager Circuit shoes review

The Bontrager Circuit shoes provide high-end features at a modest price

Bontrager Circuit
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Bontrager Circuit shoes provide a quality offer for their price. The sole’s structure makes it relatively stiff, despite not being made of carbon. The shoe is also quite light and benefits from a precisely adjustable Boa closure, but I did find the ankle front opening uncomfortable.

Reasons to buy
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    Boa dial upper closure gives precise adjustment

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    Stiff sole

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Reasons to avoid
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    Upper is uncomfortable across the front of the ankle

Trek’s component and apparel range Bontrager makes a range of shoes, including the budget Bontrager Circuit. But although it’s at the lower end of the road shoe range, it still packs in a lot of high end features.

Unusually for a budget shoe, the Bontrager Circuit is closed by an upper Boa strap. It’s an L6 model, so whereas more expensive IP1 Boas both tighten and loosen the upper by turning the dial, you need to pull the L6 dial out to loosen it. It still ratchets closed in small increments, for easy tightening though.

There’s a lower Velcro strap and the synthetic leather upper has plenty of perforations for venting, as well as a well-padded tongue and heel cup. Although there’s plenty of volume to the shoe, so your foot doesn’t feel pinched, I found the opening of the upper dug into the front of my ankle when riding.

Bontrager Circuit

Structure of Bontrager Circuit's sole makes it stiff despite not being carbon

This is particularly noticeable if your pedalling style includes significant ankling, and is due to the shape of the upper and the positioning of the upper Boa cable guide. It’s something that might soften up a bit with use, but could need a few thousand miles to sort out.

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As with most shoes at this price, the sole is nylon composite, which includes fibreglass, rather than carbon. Midsole stiffness is helped by the cantilever structure, with a hollow section under the foot which is cross-braced by built in struts. This makes the Bontrager Circuit particularly stiff for a shoe at this price; it’s the stiffest sub-£100 shoe we’ve tested.

This design also leads to the Bontrager Circuit shoes being competitively light, even with much more expensive shoes built on carbon sole units. You also get two toe vents and a small midsole vent.

In common with many budget shoes, you can use three bolt or two bolt cleats with the Bontrager Circuit, although you need to punch out the blanks for two bolt fixtures and buy a separate adapter from Bontrager for them to screw into.

Available in full sizes between 39 and 48, the Bontrager Circuit comes in matt black as well as this smart-looking matt red.