Bontrager Specter Road Shoe review

The Bontrager Specter shoe sits in Bontrager's mid to upper range of cycling shoes, offering impressive performance and comfort

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Bontrager Specter shoes are comfortable, well built and have managed to nail the single-dial retention system. If you're a fan of the bright colour scheme (I am) then these are highly recommended.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very comfortable with an accurate fit

  • +

    Good single-dial retention system

  • +

    Stiff sole

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Shimano SPD cleat plate rattles in the shoe

  • -

    Scuffs easily

  • -

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The Bontrager Specters weigh in at the mid-range category of cycling shoes. Sure, they’ve not got the all-singing, all-dancing features of the likes of Shimano’s S-PHYRE shoes, but what they do have, they use well.

In terms of technical features, the Bontrager Specters come with a PowerTruss sole that, despite the price point, is plenty stiff and never suffered flexing when putting the power down. It's not carbon, but rather a nylon composite, but the differences aren't as noticeable as you might expect.

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Of course, at 590g these aren’t as light as carbon race slippers, but the weight never felt like a penalty when riding.  What's more important is the fact they’re comfortable, and despite their mid-range status they quickly became my go-to boots. No doubt this was because I didn't suffer any rubbing, whether on a 30km blast or a 100km slog.

A side on shot of the Bontrager Spectre shoe

The Bontrager Specter shoes are comfortable enough for long days in the saddle

I opted for a size 43 (the size I wear every day both on and off the bike) and had no issues with fit. Sometimes with cycling shoes it can be worth opting for a size up but here the sizing was spot on. While there was no rubbing or discomfort there's certainly not a lot of wiggle room for added socks.

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Bontrager has opted to spec the shoes with just one Boa dial, something I’ve had issues with before on high-tier race shoes like the Northwave Extreme RR. Happily though, common issues – such as pressure points – caused by single-dial retention systems never presented themselves.

As ever, the Boa dial is easy to use, making micro-adjustments easy on the fly.

Watch: Cycling Weekly road shoe buyer's guide

Elsewhere, I found the shoes did scuff and mark easily, so don’t expect them to look box fresh forever, and this is definitely extenuated by that dazzling fluorescent yellow colour scheme.

>>> Cycling shoes: a complete buyer's guide

Similarly, I found the Boa’s wire has begun bedding into the tongue. Fortunately, Bontrager has specced some thicker material here to nip any real damage in the bud.

The Bontrager Spectre shoes come with a single Boa dial retention system

The Bontrager Spectre shoes come with a single Boa dial retention system

I also found the mountain-bike SPD cleat plate in the sole rattled an awful lot, even when my foot was in the shoe providing pressure. It's more an annoyance than anything else, but they could be more secure to save owners having to bodge a do-it-yourself job.

>>> The best cycling overshoes: a buyer's guide

As a side note, I'll also question the inclusion of a superfluous single Velcro strap. Even with my narrow feet I found it achieved very little in the way of tightening.

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