Scott and Bontrager Shoes AndrewM
Two Shoes Reviewed - 1 Winter 1 Summer

Bontrager JFW Winter Boots & Scott MTB Comp Shoes

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Feb 4, 2019

Same-Same But Different

I've been on the Scott MTB Comp Lace shoes since May 2018. They were becoming my go-to shoe but a dumb trail building injury in early summer put me on flats and delayed this review. I'm going to mention it about fifteen times in this review in the hopes that other shoe manufacturers are listening, but of all the great things about this shoe, there is one feature that is the absolute best-in-class, with that class being every clipless shoe on the market I've tried. 

It's the cleat pocket, baby. Is there a mountain biker alive that uses the forward 50% of the cleat adjustment on their shoes? I'm still running my cleats slammed back with the Scotts but they make me want to start cutting channels or drilling holes in all my other clip-in footwear. 

Scott and Bontrager Shoes AndrewM

The Scott MTB Comp Lace and Bontrager JFW. If I could change one thing on the JFW I'd orient the cleat pocket more rearward. 

Is this critique skewed by personal preference? Sure. But even if the average rider likes a cleat position forward of where I'd like to mount mine, can we still agree that the average position, call it the centre position, should be rearward of where most companies place it? Just once I'd like to try on a pair of clip-in shoes, mount the cleats fully rearward, and go - wait, nope, I need to move this cleat forward. 

I realize that's some pretty brutal foreshadowing of my number one issue with the JFW boot but, despite this, I still reach for the Bontrager mid-winter boot every time it's pissing rain or particularly cold. 

Scott and Bontrager Shoes AndrewM

Both shoes have very similar sole stiffness and fit (size 43) so I think they make a great one-two punch covering 12 months of riding. 

It may look like I'm trying to review a Trophy Truck against an Indy Car, but that's not how I look at it. To me, the combination of the MTB Comp Lace and Jack Frost Winter (JFW) complement each other well for year round riding conditions. Fit is very similar (EU 43) with the JFW's adjustable volume allowing for a greater range of sock thickness options while the Comp Lace's stiffer upper offers a racier feel hammering out of the saddle with summer fitness. 

Both shoes have essentially identical sole stiffness riding or hiking, with hiking being surprisingly comfortable for how XC-Race they show. I used the shoes with multiple pedal systems from Shimano, LOOK, Time, and Crankbrothers., some with massive platforms and others with none.

Jack Frost Winter

Bontrager's 'Radioactive Yellow' foul-weather shoe is listed at a range of 25 to 40F or -4 to +4.4C. For those with extra-cold tootsies or riding in sub 0°C conditions, Bontrager has their Old Man Winter (OMW) boot with a rating of 10F to 25F or -12 up to -4C. The volume is so adjustable I can comfortably pedal in anything from a bulky pair of Showers Pass H20 shocks to my thinnest pair of NSMB wool socks to further extend the temperature range. 

Bontrager JFW Boot AndrewM

I love laces, but the BOA is a great system especially when trying to manage a huge volume range (sock options). 

I mention the OMW as it claims a 100% waterproof upper and thus, combined with waterproof pants, brings forth the option of  a system that is virtually sealed with the only potential moisture being sweat soup. The JFW is not a completely waterproof shoe and doesn't claim to be. Generally, by the time my boots are wetted out so is the rest of my gear but it's worth noting that it isn't just a matter of water coming through the top. 

When it's really cold and pissing I'll sometimes wear my waterproof socks inside the JFW for a better wet weather combo but otherwise I find, as with most 'waterproof' clip-in boots, my feet are getting wet with sweat from inside if not rain from outside. 

Bontrager JFW Boot AndrewM

These beauties are as bright as they come. I've had multiple comments from pedestrians when commuting up to ride trails at night. If you can't ride from home... 

Bontrager JFW Boot AndrewM

The tall neoprene cuffs aren't waterproof but they're great for keeping crap out of my shoes. I always use these combined with my Race Face Agent Pants for overlap. 

I run hot, and highly recommend the JFW for similarly sweaty riders. If the issues I have with cold hands stretched to my feet I'd be looking to the OMW for those North Shore days and nights when the wet seems to penetrate all barriers like a phantom through walls.

Bontrager JFW Boot AndrewM

Aside from dancing across slimy logs, the sole of the JFW is surprisingly hike-a-bike friendly. 

Bontrager JFW Boot AndrewM

I seem to get rocks stuck in the same place on both feet almost every ride. 


I let the shoe out of the box on my one big criticism of the Jack Frost Winter. I should qualify my comments here because the JFW cleat pocket is by no means Euro-forward XC-oriented. In fact, it matches shoes from Lake, Mavic, and Shimano that I've  said very positive things so, while it may seem I'm singling out the JFW, this critique applies to many shoes currently on the market. I mainly notice the more-forward-than-I'd-prefer cleat position while descending. I've been riding flats a lot lately and the Scott shoes put me in a position where I can drop my front heel a touch, raise my rear heel a touch, and shred. It's simply more fun. Until my feet get cold...

If Bontrager would shift the cleat pocket rearward 25% I'd have nothing to complain about. I should probably also mention that a number of folks who've asked me about the shoes were turned off by the single bright colour option but I do enough road miles that I appreciate it. 

Despite my one criticism, for winter riding on the North Shore I haven't come across a shoe I like better, after riding Shimano, North Wave, Specialized, and Mavic boots. They have an intelligent balance of hiking versus riding stiffness, they're surprisingly grippy and comfy shoes for long off the bike adventures, and they've proven very durable even considering how often I rub the inside on my crankarms. For locals hanging the bikes up in the winter and those living in balmier locales, it's a hard expense to justify, but even with our relatively dry winter I've been regularly appreciating them. 

They're available in full sizes from 36 to 48.  


Then I remind myself I'm only racing to my next coffee or beer and I'll probably run out of gas or courage at some point and do some walking.

Scott MTB Comp Lace

Have I mentioned how good the rearward oriented cleat pocket on the Scott MTB Comp Lace shoes is?

Other excellent features include offset laces that magically negate all hot spots that my weird feet sometimes get in other shoes (lace, ratchet, BOA, etc), wicked durability of the sole given how much hiking I've done in them and the fact that the rubber is soft enough to traipse across greasy logs I'm too chicken to ride. 

Scott MTB Comp Shoes AndrewM

Offset laces are like oval chainrings. You either love them or don't care, so they might as well come on everything. 

Scott MTB Comp meets Time Speciale AndrewM

Are they 'Sticki' enough? I've had clip-in shoes with grippier rubber but the hiking grip vs. wear factor is excellent. 

I have a strong preference for lace-up shoes, although my hands appreciate the JFW's BOA when they're cold and an adjustment is needed, and Scott does a great job with a very adaptive fit. It's not surprising really since the MTB Comp Lace shares a pattern with their deluxe MTB RC lace shoe. 

Occasionally when I'm riding strong and tackling a mean climb out of the saddle I wish I was riding the MTB RC's to which Scott assigns a rating of '9' on their stiffness index compared to the MTB Comp's rating of '6'. Then I remind myself I'm only racing to my next coffee or beer and I'll probably run out of gas or courage at some point and do some walking. 

Descending stiffness is never an issue because that aforementioned cleat position positions me perfectly over the pedals. 

Scott MTB Comp Shoes AndrewM

*cough* nothing to see here *cough* 

Like the vast majority of cycling shoes that are not Specialized, the Scotts come with a really crappy basic insole. With some shoes, it doesn't really seem to matter - Mavic's Deemax or the Bontrager JFN for example - but for me inserting my regular insoles made a big difference to all-day comfort. 

I've been running the same old Specialized BG ++ Blue insoles (their medium in terms of support) for years and they worked great in the Scotts. Apparently, these things are supposed to wear out and I haven't compared them to freshies but they seem to have lots of life left to me. Pretty solid return on investment. I've also run the SQLab 215 insole, which is their medium, and it's great as well. Both Specialized and SQLab have folks in place that can help choose the amount of support you need if your feet are looking for an upgrade. 

Scott MTB Comp meets Time Speciale AndrewM

I've run the MTB Comp Lace and Bontrager JFW with pedals from Crankbrothers, Shimano, Time, and LOOK. Yes, that is a lot of cleat swapping. 

Scott's top-end shoes, like the MTB RC Lace, include the adjustable arch support Ergologic insole. I haven't tried the system, but given Scott's cost to equip it up front versus buying an ergonomic insole aftermarket I'd love to pay a some more bucks up front and give it a shot.

With the shrewdly universal cleat pocket, offset laces, balanced sole stiffness, fairly grippy sole, and quality construction, the 120 USD price for the Scott MTB Comp Lace is a bargain - even with an extra $30 for insoles. They are available in whole sizes from 38 to 48. 

Comments

maxc
+1 Andrew Major
maxc  - Feb. 4, 2019, 12:11 a.m.

Seeing as you asked: I run the cleats under the ball of my foot, comfortably into the forward 50% of the cleat slot of my Shimano shoes

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 4, 2019, 5:15 a.m.

Ha! I knew this would be the first comment - strokes for folks and all.

What’s your shoe size and application if you don’t mind me asking? Does your MTB have a relatively slack effective seat angle?

Lucky, most shoes on the market have a perfect position for you.

Reply

maxc
+1 Andrew Major
maxc  - Feb. 4, 2019, 2:42 p.m.

Haha happy to oblige! Ask and you shall receive. In order then: EU45; mountain biking both up and down, generally as steeply as I’m able; 74deg.

I like how you’ve introduced it as a discussion point. It’s got me thinking about foot position vs seat angle for sure.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 maxc
Andrew Major  - Feb. 4, 2019, 6:18 p.m.

Thank you!

I think as a general rule I get more out of the comments than anyone. Many a good idea for an editorial has been spawned from comments on gear reviews.

Reply

legbacon
+1 Andrew Major
legbacon  - Feb. 4, 2019, 7:11 a.m.

I used to, but slammed it back 5 years ago and felt much better.  Pedaling was not impacted, but I feel much more stable on the bike, and descending is far more comfortable.  My Specialized Cliplite Lace shoes have just enough space to get the cleats far enough back.  Cleat pockets really do need to be moved rearward.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 4, 2019, 7:36 a.m.

I wonder how much of it is the change to relatively steeper effective seat tube angles and cleat position not evolving along with bike geo?

To be fair to Bontrager, I’m sure the JFW is also being used for commuting and ‘cross and for those applications there are likely many riders using the front range of the cleat pocket.

Reply

mhaager2
0
Moritz Haager  - Feb. 4, 2019, 7:06 a.m.

-4 rating. Hahahahaha. I love the coast. It's -28 here in Edmonton

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 4, 2019, 7:26 a.m.

As I noted, that’s where the OMW boot comes in (along with 45NRTH, Lake, etc). Bontrager is based in Wisconsin so I’d say the folks there know a few things about riding bikes in cold.

I’ve also ridden the river valley on a cold November day and I think there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s harder to dress for a winters day on the Shore.

For one, the need for dexterity for braking prevents the use of really heavy gloves here.

With the largely adjustable volume the JFW is also quite variable based on what socks I wear although I haven’t had an opportunity to ride them below -1/-2.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
0
Tjaard Breeuwer  - March 25, 2019, 2:36 p.m.

Do you find the the JFW fairly true to size? I ask because you mention wearing different socks.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - March 25, 2019, 10:18 p.m.

I usually wear a 43 - and I'm wearing a 43 with the FJW. I do tend to wear a thicker sock in them but I certainly couldn't go down a size with a thinner sock. 

Hope that helps!

Reply

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