Bontrager Flatline Shoe NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG
TWO-MINUTE REVIEWS

Bontrager Flatline MTB Shoe

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Mar 27, 2019

Flatline Facts

I can take all the flat pedal shoes and divide them into two categories: Shoes that are trying to be Five Tens and shoes that are not trying to be Five Tens. The first category is clearly dominated by Five Ten and their legendary Stealth rubber, although there are some interesting upstarts moving on the category.

The second category, home to the Bontrager Flatline MTB shoes, is distinctly more interesting given the many different takes on the ultimate shoe.

I'm not a Five Ten man myself - my knees like a bit of float - so my ultimate comparison is to put the Bontrager meets Vibram Flatline up against the Shimano and Michelin collaboration GR7.

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The 130 USD Flatline comes in three colourways. For my money these'd be pink.

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Stitching is top quality. The shoes have held up to a lot of abuse.

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Stock laces are long, allowing for a few different lacing options, and tuck in place nicely.

The Flatline forgoes the eyelet reinforcement of the GR7, but its eyelets' oval shape combined with flat laces has presented zero wear issues. I appreciate the Shimano's neoprene cuff, but I do like the more casual look of the Bontrager.

Pedaling uphill, the Bontrager has a firmer sole and does a great job of transferring my effort. It's not quite as firm as the Pearl Izumi Alp-X Launch but it's still a fantastic candidate for folks riding longer distances or single speeds on flat pedals.

Also like the Alp-X, the Flatline is a shoe that works better with some pedals than others. Any pedal that falls into the 'it only works well with Five Ten shoes' category isn't a great pair with the Flatline, especially in the wet.

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The tread pattern interfaces predictably with all the pedals I've used and is best with tall narrow pins like those on the Wah Wah 2 and Line Elite pedals.

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Thanks to the toe and heel tread, the Flatline is equal to the Shimanos in being the best flat pedal shoes for hike-a-bike moments. Especially with the ice and slush this winter.

I very much enjoyed the Bontrager Flatline. Forced to choose, I'll still buy the GR7 for the perfect mix of traction, flex, and easy re-positioning of my foot. That said, for longer rides I'm generally clipped in. As soon as I'm doing long rides on flats, trail or cruising, the Flatline is my first choice.

For riders who prefer something stickier when it's greasy and are riding flats year round, consider Five Ten shoes for the wettest winter months, and then choose the durability and extra sole stiffness of the Flatline for the drier parts of the year.

For more information on the 130 USD Flatline check them out at your nearest Trek dealer or online at Bontrager.

Comments

Thunderbear
+1 Andrew Major
Thunderbear  - March 27, 2019, 12:52 p.m.

Great review, thanks! Might give these a try.

Wonder what they were thinking with the overall design and color scheme.. it's as if a manager forced the designers to make it look like a freerider pro.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - March 27, 2019, 3:54 p.m.

Imitation as flattery and all that...overall I think they look good, though. They're also very similar looking to the OG Giro Jacket.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - March 27, 2019, 8:26 p.m.

Thank you,

That's interesting (Freerider Pro) as I was also thinking about the similarities with Giro. I have to say that other than the distinctive Shimano (and Pearl Izumi) flat pedal shoes most of them look pretty damn similar to me.

Reply

generationfourth
+1 Andrew Major
generationfourth  - March 28, 2019, 10:14 p.m.

"my knees like a bit of float"

I don't understand? the shoes let your knees float cause less sticky rubber? make it a 2:15 review please

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - March 28, 2019, 11:54 p.m.

I’m really sensitive to having my foot in the right place when I’m pedaling or I get quite an intense knee pain.

I find with really sticky shoes and good pedals if my foots in the wrong place I have to lift it up to reposition it.

With my preferred shoes - like the Michelin soled GR7 and these Vibram soles Flatlines - I get plenty of grip with my preferred pedal but it’s much easier to manage the orientation of my feet.

Reply

chachmonkey
0
chachmonkey  - March 29, 2019, 10:25 a.m.

Thanks for reviewing these shoes! They look interesting, but after your review I think I'd prefer the more flexible GR7 (another super helpful review). When I first switched to flats I was wearing Vans, and I think I still prefer grip that comes from a flexible sole that wraps around the pedal rather than a stiff sole and super grippy rubber (Even on 4-hour rides with a ton of pedaling). Honestly, I'd still be wearing Vans if they were much wider and had some toe protection.

Reply

tallguyridesabike
0
tallguyridesabike  - March 30, 2019, 8:20 a.m.

I have a pair of these shoes and they fit well for my fairly narrow foot.  I can't ride with Five Tens because they're so damn wide, my foot slides back and fourth in them.  What I kinda like about Bontrager is you can find their stuff in a shop and try them on, and their prices are the same as they are online.  And their sizing is accurate. Vs basically every other shoe company right now.  Walk into the average bike shop and they have shoes from 2 seasons ago at MSRP and only infant or Yao Ming sizes.  I wear a 11.5 street shoe, and that's exactly what fit me perfectly with these Bontragers.  An 11.5 Five Ten feels like a 13 and my Shimano ME7s are a size 10.  Makes no sense.

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Kenny
0
Kenny  - March 30, 2019, 11:44 a.m.

I've been finding gr9s and DMR vaults to be a great combo. The DMR are pretty concave and the gr9 are pretty flexible. So the sorta "sink down" into the pedals which helps you feel connected to the bike, but not glued to it. 

The thing about the gr9s that I really like is the lace covers and the inside ankle bone protection. 

I'm also pretty interested in the ride concepts launch and giro riddance mid.

Reply

dan
0
Dan  - April 3, 2019, 7:13 p.m.

After seven seasons my Five Tens are finally ready for the big shoe pile in the sky. I will definitely give these a test. If the size 48 fits as well as I hope it does, I'll snatch up a pair. (And for those that don't know, Bonti's fit guarantee means I have 30 days to return 'em.)

It'd be fantastic if they also offered these with an SPD-compatible sole. Trek, if you're listening.... they'd go great with my Slash!

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