If the shoe fits, wear it


For almost three years now I have ridden with Bont Vaypors. Aside from the bad spelling, they had some amazing qualities that led me to put them on my feet.

  1. They were free.
  2. They didn’t cost anything.
  3. Tensile strength of 130,000 MPa’s.

Of course there was a down side or two. As Alan Flores said, “Dude, when I got those things I took one look and put them on eBay. What a joke.”

Or as Joe Yule said, “I had a pair once, briefly.”

“How briefly?” I asked.

“As long as it took for me to look at them, put them back in the box, and put them on eBay.”

So here were the negatives:

  1. Hideously ugly.
  2. Incredibly painful.
  3. Tensile strength of 130,000 MPa’s.

Doing a cost benefit analysis ($0 cost versus 130,000 MPa benefit), I kept them, trained in them, and raced with them. Over the years they bruised my toes so badly that my nails all blackened, withered, and eventually fell off, but unlike the leaves of New England lovely maples, they never grew back.

How stiff were these shoes? It was like setting your foot in wet concrete, curing it for six months, and then trying to wiggle your toes. When you pushed on the pedals, the only energy transfer loss was from the tendons that snapped and the ligaments that tore as these flexless beasts conducted muscle directly to ball of foot to pedal.

I loved those Bonts because they had such a fearsome reputation for pain and discomfort that anyone who saw you still wearing a pair after more than forty miles became afraid, very afraid. There is no pain like foot pain and if you can endure the 138-mile BWR on Bont concrete specials you can endure anything, even accounting. Best of all, Josh A. always wore his while walking his two Chihuahuas, Stanley and Olive.

It’s an awesome shoe that lets you maintain an 2015 race winning percentage of 100% and clack around the neighborhood picking up mini-puppy poop.

After a while I think the Bonts actually bent the bones in my foot because my toes, which once were narrow, straight, slim and rather lovely, became twisted, blackened stumps that snaked over one another like a bad root system. I occasionally thought about replacing them, but not seriously because, hey, free.

Then one day I happened into Bike Effect and Steve Carre insisted on measuring my feet. I know, I know. “Well,” he said, “your right foot is a full size bigger than your left.”

“It is?”


“What does that mean?”

“It means that if your cycling shoe fits your left foot it’s probably horribly painful for your right, but if it fits your right foot then your left foot has enough extra space to open up a lemonade stand.”

That thought haunted me for a few months until, plagued by sneaky Internet algorithms that registered my ONE search for Shimano shoes and then showered every single page I visited for the next twelve weeks with ads for Shimano shoes (even http://www.skankytoe.com), I caved to the relentless marketing and bought a pair of fancy new Shimano R-somethings for $150.00. Stylish, sleek, lightweight, they looked comfortable in a way that the Bont torture chambers never had.

I was so excited when I went out for this morning’s ride with my new shoes. They didn’t hurt, but they didn’t fit worth a crap either. I wore them anyway because hey, paid for.




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13 thoughts on “If the shoe fits, wear it”

  1. Well, the shoes actually look decent enough! And I guess it’s much, much better than a pair that was probably created to extract information from your toes and feet. (Just riding with your “torture chamber” description!)

  2. A few years back I finally found a pair of shoes that fit my flippers. Then the manufacturer stopped making them, so I immediately bought two more pairs on clearance and a 3rd NOS pair on eBay a year ago. When something works, don’t mess with it.

  3. I’m a lifelong member of the club foot association of Brits with Bad teeth and have long endured poor fitting cycling shoes because apparently all cyclists have elegant narrow long feet that should be fitted with Cinderella style cycling footwear. Of course being the ugly step brother of the cycling fraternity I have to put up with shoe horning my over width pugs into these shoes. After nearly 4 years of wearing the same pair of Fiziks, which took a year to break into my feet I am really loathe to release another couple of Benjamins just so can ruin yet another pair of shoes. Guess they will have to last another four years. Anyone got a dead Kangaroo I can use to patch the leather?

  4. Wanky,

    Hijacking your post to give Coryn Rivera a huge shout out for her ride today.

    It looked like she was on “follow any break” duty and went way beyond the call driving the break a couple of different times. Classy ride. She should be very proud.

    An American got third with Armistead taking the win like a MF’n boss, leading the sprint out.

  5. funny, i just got a free pair of used sidis that I am going to keep for back up pair. i still love my normal road paid with the BOA fits but love the snap of the newer sidis too…

  6. I have always worn Giro because they fit my high arch feet like a glove and nothing else seems to. I got a “great deal” on a pair of shimano. I tried them out and while they didn’t fit “like a glove”, I figured they fit well enough for the price.

    I found myself only using them on short rides and going back to the old Giro for long rides. Finally I decided I had to switch to the new shoes, the old ones are falling apart! I used them for about a week and got horrible big toe pains. When I finally took a closer look one big toe nail had cracked at the base.

    I got a pedi to fix the problem and make my toes look pretty. When they took off the polish it turned out BOTH big toes had cracked toe nails. I realized this was the pain I was feeling from the shoes and caused by the shoes. I never wore them again. I’m waiting for my new Giro to get in stock to buy another pair. Until then, I’m wearing the raggedy old Giros.

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