With hard-to-fit feet, our multi-sport editor, Tracy, has always heard she should give BONT’s shoes a try. After all, they’re heat moldable, so you can make tiny tweaks to the fit on your own as many times as you need to. So when we first heard that BONT was introducing a new triathlon shoe at Interbike a couple years ago, we were pretty eager to learn more. And so began a long journey that ended up very much worth the wait. Here’s how it went…
We received our first sample of the RIOT TR+ last fall, but the fit wasn’t quite right. When Tracy tightened the straps on each shoe, she was left with a huge amount of extra strap on each side. We discussed the issue with BONT and confirmed that we were correctly using the BONT sizing wizard for the RIOT style, which is the recommended tool for determining your ideal size. So, back to BONT they went. Tracy had originally been trying a size 41, and BONT recommended she try sizing down to a 40.5 to address the significant amount of extra strap. This is where the hard-to-fit qualities of Tracy’s fit come into play. Tracy has a low volume foot combined with a wide toe area, which requires a wider toe box. Fortunately sizing down to a 40.5 did correct the strap issue. The shoe is snug – there is absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever. But that’s been fine throughout the testing process.
Another note on fit – while we didn’t need to do it ourselves, BONT’s shoes are able to be heat molded if they don’t fit you right out of the box. Of course, this is intended for only small fit tweaks, and you need to follow their instructions carefully. You can read more about that process on their site here.
Once we finally got the shoes ready for the road, we slipped them on for the first ride.
The RIOT TR+ utilizes two Velcro straps rather than a Boa for tightening. The straps were constructed with notches at the ends to help them stay open for quick mounts as well. Tracy tends to prefer this over a Boa tightening for quicker transitions. While Boa is nice for small fit adjustments, the straps are a no-fuss approach for a tri shoe that’s meant for quick a quick on and off. There is also a generous loop at the back of the shoe that’s super-easy to grab when making a quick exit out of T1.
The shoe was very breathable and comfortable each time we rode with them thanks to the microfiber mesh upper construction. We didn’t find any drainage ports on the underside of the shoe, and we didn’t have the opportunity to test the TR+ in super-wet conditions. So we’re unsure of how wet things would get (or stay) in extreme weather.
We loved the roomy toe box found with the TR+. BONT’s anatomical shaping is designed to work with your foot – not against it – ensuring there is plenty of room for your toes to spread and distribute the pressure when pedaling evenly (avoiding uncomfortable pressure which can compress the nerves in the metatarsals).
The TR+’s sole is constructed from a carbon composite and features a three-hole look configuration for cleat alignment. Our only gripe about the shoe was that we found that we needed the ability to shift our cleats back just a touch more than the shoe would allow. This could be unique to us, though. Shoes are such a personal thing when it comes to fit and cleat positioning, so we’re not holding that against the TR+.
The sole is strengthened with carbon across the high-stress areas, which is then sandwiched between layers of fiberglass for strength. We found the stiffness and power transfer of these shoes comparable to full-carbon models, which was a welcome surprise for an entry-level shoe.
And so ends our long review journey with the RIOT TR+. It’s hard to believe it all started back at Interbike 2016, but we can honestly say these shoes were worth the wait. After all, at $159, we found the RIOT TR+ to be a great value. You’re getting a stiff, anatomically shaped, high-quality shoe that features many of the same technical features of a higher-end shoe from BONT. What’s more, they look incredible. We were partial to the totally lime/charcoal color scheme (come on, it’s totally AG colors!). However, you can also opt for white/black, black/charcoal, or midnight/mega crimson.