These Shoes Cook! Bont ctt-three Review

Guest poster Don Blount’s search for the perfect bike shoe took him to the Antipodes – in a manner of speaking.  He likes what he found.

I had never heard of Bont. Ever.

Now the company is like my new best friend.

I began searching for new cycling shoes for a simple reason – my feet began to hurt after rides. The Cannondale RS3100 cycling shoes I had worn for two years were great for getting me into biking but I was riding harder, longer and farther. The results I was getting were not the same. I figured the shoes, which were actually free with the discount I received from Performance Bike when I bought my bike in 2008, had just run their useful life.

So I began looking for replacement kicks.

From a fit issue I needed a shoe with a wide toe box and a narrower heel. And I wanted something better fitting and stiffer than my outgoing shoes.

I looked off and on for a few months. I was off the road for two months because of injuries from a fall, so I was not in a hurry. I also took time to get over the sticker shock of upgraded shoes.

Then on a late Saturday night someone in my bike club’s e-mail group excitedly mentioned Bont and how the shoe was being made available in the United States. I had never heard of this 36-year-old Australian company that outfits Thor Hushovd and the Cervelo Test Team among others.

The Bont ctt-three

I settled on the ctt-three. The deal with a Bont shoe is that it has a “fully heat moldable carbon monocoque fiberglass chassis.” Seriously, pop these babies in the oven at low temperature for a bit, put them on, stand in them for a few minutes and they will mold to your feet. In other words, it becomes a custom fit shoe. They were perfect for someone with my shoe-fitting issues.

Chef Don.

I have ridden about 950 miles in the Bonts, I think they are great. They are much stiffer than my old shoes, yet lighter at 295 grams. They flex little and transfer power well. And I really like the look too.

The downside? They took some breaking because the entire shoe – sole and upper were much stiffer than my old shoes.

I purchased my pair online in October for $207, a price comparable to other shoes that interested me. Since then I have found them online for as low as $150, including shipping. This is considered the company’s entry-level model. The top of the line shoe in this category, the ctt-one is a fully carbon shoe that costs about twice as much. I did not have to spend nearly that much and am quite pleased with the Bont ctt-three.

How Do Bike Trainers Generate Resistance?

Bike Noob took a look at trainers at about this time last year, and is revisiting the topic with a guest post from Ron Fritzke.  Ron describes himself as a “cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’.”  A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.

It doesn’t take too much time wading through the bike trainer world to get a good feel for the various features and benefits that a perspective buyer should keep their eye open for.  I’ve spent hours and hours writing indoor bike trainer reviews and have come to conclude that several factors are on most cyclist’s minds when they’re looking for a bike trainer.

Is It Quiet Enough?

Although the level of sound coming from the trainer doesn’t directly effect the workout, it sure effects the riders enthusiasm for getting onto it to begin with.  And that’s saying nothing about the lack of enthusiasm, or even open hostility the rider will face from members of the family who are subjected to a howling wind trainer.  It can get so loud that even residents living in the same apartment complex stop saying ‘Hello’ in the hallway, replacing the greeting with a scowl.

In general terms, the fluid trainers are the quietest, the magnetic (mag) trainers come in second place, and the wind trainers can create a sound similar to a living room hurricane.

Where’s The Resistance Coming From?

It’s not too hard to figure out where the resistance comes from in each of the three main trainer types.  The wind trainer creates resistance by spinning an impeller through the air, the fluid trainer does something similar by spinning an impeller through fluid (typically silicone), and the mag trainer creates resistance by spinning repelling magnets past each other as the flywheel spins.

Moving Air

Starting with the simplistic wind trainers, there isn’t too much mystery as to what’s going on with this type.  After all, everything’s exposed.  In case the word impeller isn’t in your knowledge base, it’s nothing more than a propeller with the blades safely inside the flywheel rather than pointing outward.  A true propeller might be interesting except for the possibility of the manufacturer’s legal department  having to  field a lot of ‘missing fingers and toes’ complaints.

An interesting version of wind trainer design is CycleOps’ vortex shaped impeller.  The claim is that it increases resistance while reducing noise.  That sounds like the best of both worlds in the wind trainer world.

Magnets That Hate Each Other

Heralding back to the days of primitive elementary school science experiments, mag trainers use the repelling force of similar poles of magnets to create resistance.  These trainers work by spinning the magnets on one part of the trainer past the magnets on another part of the mag trainer.  The repulsion as they get close to each other creates the resistance.

The big issue with mag trainers centers around how they increase or decrease the resistance levels.  On the least sophisticated models, the rider dismounts (getting a welcome relief from the tyranny of the workout) and changes the setting directly on the trainer.  The next level of complexity requires the rider  to merely change the setting using a lever that’s been attached to the handlebars.

A recent development in mag trainers is the system on the CycleOps Magneto.  It’s called progressive resistance and uses the power of centrifugal force to spin the magnets further and further away from center as the rider increases their intensity.  The engineering in this model is such that there’s more resistance the further the magnets move outward.

Fluid Trainers And Leakage

Fluid trainers have long been at the top of the heap when it comes to resistance.  On these trainers the harder you pedal, the more the trainer resists.  While that may seem obvious, what I mean is that the resistance increases exponentially.  If you were to look at the level of resistance as it relates to the speed of the turning wheel you wouldn’t see a straight line.  Instead you’d see an intimidating upward swooping line that almost approaches vertical at the upper end.  This type of resistance is particularly valuable for strength type workouts and may not be as necessary for trainer riding at a steady state.

In the past, it was almost certain that fluid trainers would begin leaking due to the friction and extreme heat generated during a workout.  The whole leakage problem was confronted head-on when the Kurt Kinetic company developed a design that is today featured in all of their fluid trainers, with the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine being the foundation of the line.

Kinetic trainers have a sealed chamber housing the impeller and the silicone.  Outside of the chamber is a flywheel with six strong magnets imbedded into it.  These are matched to six magnets in the impeller.  In this case, rather than repelling each other, these magnets are configured to form a magnetic bond to each other.  The result is a magnetic coupling with the impeller and the flywheel spinning in tandem without the sanctity of the fluid chamber being breached.

Not to be left behind by this design, the Cycleops Fluid 2 Trainer is the result of efforts on the part of CycleOps to beef up their fluid trainer products.  It’s not clear how they accomplished the improvement, but it’s very evident that something’s been done since customer dissatisfaction is markedly reduced among the ever present complainers on the internet.

Summing It Up

It’s been my intention to expose the reader to the implications of how each of the trainers generates resistance.  Each of the styles has its strengths and weakness…no one type suits every rider.  Casual riders may do well with the relative simplicity of a wind trainer, while more intense riders would be best suited to a fluid bike trainer.  There’s plenty of information on the internet, and my intention is that this short article will get you asking the right questions in your quest for a good bicycle trainer.

Do You Light Up After (or during) a Ride?

Even cycling great Mario Cipollini used to light up on the bike. This shot is easily found online, but I don't know what race he was in at the time.

I used to smoke.  Cycling had nothing to do with me stopping – I quit cold turkey years ago.  One of the nice things about cycling is that the people you ride with don’t smoke, either.  At a post-ride gabfest at the coffee shop, no one lights up.

Which makes it something of a shock to see a cyclist with a cigarette.  Back at the MS150 last year, I was taking it easy in the team tent at the finish, when one of the members of my team produced a cigarette and started to smoke.  A woman, also on the team, bummed one from him.  So now we had two cyclists dragging away – in team kit.  And our team was sponsored by a hospital(!).

Of course, smoking and cycling used to be common, back before the health link was proven.  I’ve used this old pic from the Tour de France before, with some of the leaders puffing away while riding through the countryside.  The French seem to be inseparable from their cigarettes, anyway.  Way back when, it was perfectly normal for the Michelin Man to smoke while riding. 

A guy I occasionally ride with always grabs a quick drag when he’s packing up his gear at the finish.  His Facebook picture pokes fun at his inability to completely kick the habit.

So how about you?  Are you a reformed smoker?  Or do you still indulge?  Do you avoid cyclists who smoke, and separate yourself from smoking riders?