When Giro released the Empires, there was a lot of head scratching around the cycling world. Laces? On a 21st Century bike shoe? Surely not! But actually, it turned out that not only were the Empires good shoes, they were damn good shoes so it was almost inevitable that other companies would bring something similar to the market.
One brand that’s done just that is Bontrager. And they’ve gone even further than Giro, who made the Empires as a sort of cycling shoe pastiche, taking the smartest technologies from their latest shoes and coupling it with a blend of old school lace-up closure and wild, new school looks. But Bonty have gone full retro with the Classiques, making them using modern technologies but giving them a look that wouldn’t have been out of place on the feet of Eddy Merckx or Jacques Anquetil.
The basis of these shoes is Bontrager’s 12k weave carbon fibre sole, a platform that gets 12 out of 14 on Bonty’s own stiffness scale. The Classique uses Bontrager’s InForm Pro last, which is said to provide a ‘ergonomically optimised high-performance fit’ and the upper is a premium Clarino microfibre designed to both reduce weight and improve durability. We put these straight onto the scales of truth, and they came in at a creditable 235g per shoe for a size 45.
One lovely final touch is that you get four sets of laces with the shoes. The black set, which we stuck on for the pictures, and also red, white and blue laces, a nice little nod to France, and that matches the design on the insole.
As you might expect, grabbing yourself a set of the Classiques won’t be cheap, as they retail at £199.99, but that’s still £30 cheaper than the Empire ACCs, even if it can’t quite be described as a bargain…