If cost is critical, the Scott Team Boa, the lowest priced shoe in our group, is an outstanding option. The fit is snug and well contoured, and the heel holds tight under sprint conditions. The bi-directional Boa dial closes smoothly and spreads evenly over the mid and upper foot. Despite the minimalist inner, which may be a detriment if you prefer a more plush feel, the shoe is a tad heavy and not quite stiff enough for racing and serious climbing.
Stiffness/Power Transfer Stiffness is not the best attribute of this shoe, as there is noticeable flex in the forefoot under load. The injected-nylon outsole doesn’t have the rigidity of carbon, and weighs more, so power transfer will be effected. Plus it’s a bit heavier than we’d like to see, especially for racing. However, most riders buying a sub-$200 shoe will either not notice or not care, as the shoe is designed more for enthusiasts and event riders than racers, and the added comfort from the slight flex may actually be welcomed.
Fit/Comfort While not nearly as well-padded inside as many shoes at this pricepoint, the Team Boa’s contoured fit and even closure keeps the fit snug and comfortable, if not plush. There’s plenty of toe room, but the shoe quickly turns in and wraps around the mid and upper foot like a much higher-priced option, and there were no noticeable hot spots. This closure is aided by excellent channeling of the Boa cable, which pulls across mid and upper evenly even when cranked. Plus less padding means better ventilation, so testers’ feet remained cooler and drier. The same goes for the heel cup, which lacks plushness but holds tight with minimal slippage.
Closure System Nothing beats a two-way dial system for quick and ergonomic incremental adjustment, especially on the fly. And Boa’s system is as good as they get, with silky smooth dial and cable action, and reliable holding power. They’ve proven quite durable over the years, and are easily wrenched or replaced if something goes wrong. Whereas the older models were reversed on the left hand, these tighten in a forward motion on both sides for more intuitive adjustment. Some of these systems tighten unevenly between upper and mid, but we could crank these down and the pressure remained well dispersed so there were not hot spots. And when the ride is over a quick click opens the whole shoe for easy removal.
Construction We’ve already mentioned the durability of the Boa dials and cables, plus they’re easily replaceable if anything should go wrong. The body of the shoe also wore well, with no visible weak spots or major tears/scratches. With minimal inner padding, there was no “packing out” or change in fit. And the welded upper stayed tight and smooth throughout our testing. While the glossy upper may show scuffs more, the material felt tough enough, and kept its snug supportive fit.
Breathability/Drainage Drainage and breathability are excellent with perforations and vent holes throughout, making it a great choice for varying conditions. Although the shiny synthetic, mostly non-perforated upper is not the most breathable material in the group, Scott does a good job of adding mesh over and under the toes to help improve ventilation and drainage to an appreciable level, especially for the price. There are also various slits around the upper, but we’d like to see these a bit wider, and a more ventilated tongue would also help.