Bontrager Flatline - flat pedal shoe (REVIEW)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bontrager Flatline - flat pedal shoe (REVIEW)

    My first impressions of the Flatline flat pedal shoe offered by Bontrager

    It is finally time to retire my old running shoes as MTB shoes.

    I tried this whole bike specific shoe scenario a year ago with the purchase of 510 Freerider Elements from an online retailer for a great price.

    Sadly, I had to honor their return policy for a 'used' shoe and send the shoe back for credit.

    First I ordered a pair of size 10.0 but my feet swam in them. They were exchanged for a 9.5.
    The 9.5 fit as a shoe should. I rode the shoes 9 different times over 80 miles of climbing, descending and hike-a-biking.

    I tried several lacing patterns and different lacing snugness. Both feet would go numb during each ride.

    The above information is meant for a size comparison and is in no way a review on the 510 product.


    The running store classifies my feet as wide. I wear a size 10.5w Brooks running shoe which fits amazingly. I've got daily shoes ranging from 9.5 or 10.

    A year later, with torn up shoes and soles that were becoming less and less grippy, I once again began the search for the next perfect shoe.

    For no reason other than a few magazine reviews rating the Bontrager Flatline shoe fairy highly (comparing to the 510's) I decided to seek out a pair. My local shop had a size 11 in stock (or EU size 44). They seemed a bit too large, the toe box had more than enough room and my toe was a bit far from the end.
    The Flatline shoe is offered in half-sizes. A few days later the 43.5 (10.5) shoe arrived in stock at the LBS. It had a much better fit.

    I bought them on a Saturday morning before heading out for a ride.
    Essentially I bought the shoes and headed out with no adjustments.

    The sole of the shoes is somewhat hard, but not uncomfortable. The uppers are constructed of a soft leather material that conforms nicely to the foot and offer adequate flex with foot movement.


    Both my bikes have Race Face Chester pedals. The Flatline shoe had no problem gripping the pedal. At first the sole seemed a tad too 'hard' for the pins but once I started riding there was no denying they were going to hook up nicely. I honestly do not remember how a 510 felt when wearing those so I cannot compare. One thing I do recall, however, is that it was difficult to reposition my foot on a pedal.
    This same scenario is evident with the Flatline shoe. You must make a thoughtful effort to reposition your foot.
    I do not feel the pins, nor the axle through the sole.
    The shoe is not at all bulky or clumsy feeling.
    It is easy to walk in them too.


    The first ride consisted of the first 1/2 mile of rolling terrain with a stair stepped root downhill that has you sitting over the rear wheel. Next was a short, mostly flat or slight downhill section that lead to a downhill chunky rock garden. Shoes didn't flinch so far -straight out of the box.
    Later in that ride they walked through some greasy mud. Hiked over rocks at a waterfall feature (see my photo in a Friday Revival thread for rock picture). Climbed a lot.

    I've since climbed a 30 minute moderate grade. Descended a 5 minute flow/pedaly section. Five minutes is a very respectable Strava time for the trail. I've gone through water crossings with rocky climbs behind it. And had a hike-a-bike section up a steep shale surface.

    The shoes have not let me down.

    The laces are extremely long which I can't understand. However there is a nice elastic hold down that works flawlessly.


    Day one ride was 12 miles, no issues.
    Day two ride was about 10 miles (climbing and flow descent). I did get hints of numbing feet.
    Day three ride was 12 miles over various terrain including a 12 minute climb, and 8 minute descent. And a few miles of technical obstacles (rocks, roots, side hill, steep down, small jumps, rocks).

    There was no evidence on day one, or day 3 of numbing feet. This is obviously a personal thing, not shoe dependent, as I do not have this problem in my clipless road shoes (SPD) and I have never in years had numb feet in retired running shoes.

    I haven't yet ridden them on the full suspension (2-degree different seat tube angle) aside from doing wheelies down the street. I did have to work at moving my foot around on the pedal as well as with the hard tail.

    I'm looking forward to the shoes breaking in a bit more (reviews say they take a few rides for them to be at their best).

    At first I was a little concerned with the uppers not being as hearty as a 510, however I've been riding in a running shoe for 8+ years -the least of 'my' concern is a weak upper. I've had my share of rocks hit my feet, etc -yet I've always survived.

    Without having another shoe to compare against, I would so far recommend the Bontrager Flatline shoe to those looking for their first flat pedal shoe, or a replacement shoe not sold by 510.

    They are a little cheaper than some of the 510 options, and Bontrager has a comfort fit guarantee. My local shop will return my shoe as the guarantee, for store credit if they do not work out for me.




    I'm sure I missed a key point or two so please let me know if you have questions and I'll let ya know what I can find out.

  2. #2
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    I scored a few pairs to try on. I found they ran a half to full size too small. I wear an 11 in Adidas flat shoes and 11.5 in Nike. Ultimately the size 45 US 12 was the ticket. I've been wearing them around the house TIGHT and did a bit of indoor cycling with them. Weather is back to shit here. But so far so good. Loosening up nicely! The freeriders would have had my feet numb by now! Can't wait to ride them!

  3. #3
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    I had to upsize also.

    They fit my wide feet very well.

    Just found this ... https://www.bikegallery.com/product/...xoCJSoQAvD_BwE

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