The Bont Riot MTB is an interesting shoe. It is absurdly stiff and heat moldable for a fully customizable fit, yet it lacks some of the features we would expect on shoes in this category. The closure system is subpar and the fit of the shoe out of the box is polarizing. Finally, the stiffness of the shoe is almost too much for some riders. If you know and love Bont, you will likely love this shoe, otherwise, demo it before buying.
Bont is known for making stiff shoes, and for good reason. The Bont Riot MTB is an absurdly stiff shoe. Even in a test among exceedingly stiff high-end footwear, our testers were amazed at how stiff the Bont Riots were. There was a notable difference between these shoes and the Bontrager XXX, which are crazy stiff in their own right. And Bont makes an even stiffer mountain shoe, the Vaypor G! If stiffness is your bag, these are for you. Not surprisingly, power transfer is quite good. However, the subpar closure system robs some of that power transfer. We would have liked to have seen another BOA dial and a better heel retention system to really lock our feet in place and facilitate power transfer. Even with these issues, the Riot MTB was still among the best at putting power through the pedals.
Bont shoes have a very different fit than most folks are accustomed to in shoes. The upper is very low-cut, which can be an odd feeling if you are not use to it. Some of our testers loved it, some did not get along with it. The tongue of the shoe rests much further down on the foot than we were used to, rather than closer to the ankle. The shoes run a bit large, we were advised to size up half a size and that seemed right on. The stiffness that defines these shoes can become a liability on longer days in the saddle, especially on rougher terrain. There were times where the shoe became almost harsh and we were wishing for a bit more give.
The Bont Riot MTB features a single BOA dial and a single Velcro strap. While this system works, it is not as robust or adjustable as other shoes in this test. The BOA dial controls the upper portion of the shoe, while the Velcro strap covers more of the midfoot and wraps up from the toe box. The Velcro strap seemed inadequate at getting a proper adjustment. Either the toe box was far too loose, or the midfoot was too tight. We’d like to see either two Velcro straps as the closure or two BOA dials and a single Velcro strap to improve this shoe.
Bont has a solid reputation for making well constructed and durable shoes. The Riot MTB seems to follow that pedigree. While it can be difficult to fully assess durability of shoes during a testing period, it will become readily apparent if a shoe is not well made. These still look as good as they were out of the box, although they are not made with walking in mind, nor are they ideal for regular hike-a-bike use.
The Bont Riot MTB is a very breathable pair of shoes. They feature a lightweight microfiber upper and plenty of ventilation holes and mesh throughout. The fit of the shoes is also conducive to not overheating, as they are very low-cut. We did not ride in any cold weather with the Riot MTB, but would hesitate to take them out on cold mornings. That said, they did remain comfortable during cooler morning rides later in the fall.
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HOW WE TESTED
To conduct this test the shoes were tested over a season of riding in Western Montana, on all types of trails, including plenty of hike-a-bike slogs and long days in the saddle. All of these shoes are very high quality and would serve people well for day-to-day riding, but after a season on the bike, we discovered a number of subtle differences noted in each of the individual reviews.