Bontrager Adventure Series Clothing – GR2 Shoes: At The Finish – by Grannygear
Last time we debuted some new riding kit from Bontrager that is very applicable to gravel or light MTB riding. It is warmer weather gear, so once spring hit in So Cal, we suited up and got riding. This is what we learned.
Well, to sum up, this is good stuff. Let’s begin with the shoes.
Bontrager GR2 shoes: Work really well…smell really bad. These are the first lace-up cycling shoes I have used since….well, maybe the late 80s/early 90s? Dunno’, but it’s been a while. Yet laces have been making a comeback. Why? Well it seems to be two things: fit and simplicity. A better fit applies to everyone. And laces, if done well, can allow for much more tension adjustment across the entire foot. It’s more subtle than a two or three strap closure system, and even some Boa laces can be less adjustable as laces. Has this been an issue for me? I can’t say that it has been. Maybe I am less sensitive to this. That said, I had no comfort issues with the GR2s related to the closures.
Now then, simplicity is another thing. I have broken both buckles and dials on shoes while out riding. If you have the tools and a spare Boa dial with you, you can change it. If. Some straps can be changed but most are sewn to the shoe. ‘Broken’, in some backcountry situation, just might mean ‘broken till you get home‘. Got duct tape? A lace? Well those you can carry a dozen of and not be weighed down. So that is a big attraction for some folks.
Other than that, I did feel the need to add some Bontrager inner soles to get the foot support I needed. They are available in a range of support levels so you can get what you need. Once that was done, I just used them. I used them for both gravel and MTB riding. They are easy to walk in, not the stiffest shoe, and that is likely right for the application they are intended for. There is enough give in the forefoot of the shoe to make hike a bike a painless thing. The aggressive sole has held up well and does not show much wear at all. It is soft enough to be good on rocks without skittering away.
I don’t get quite the same quality of fit as from the 800g, $275.00 Giant Charge Elite shoes I also still use, and the Bonty GR2s weigh 905 grams. Not very light, if that matters to you, but these are not a racing focused shoe as far as I see and for $135.00, it’s a fair trade. And when you consider how Bontrager advertises these as “A dedicated off-road gravel shoe built for comfort and efficiency on any terrain”, I think they are that.
Now then…why do they smell so bad? You know the odor you get from a new set of tires? Times 10. That is the smell of these shoes, at least until they settle down. It takes a while. Keep them in the garage till then. Weird.
Now for the clothing and let’s start with the wool blend jersey. I have it in two sizes, LG and XL, just to see, as I am sometimes a ‘tweener’ size wise. The fit is slightly loose with the XL (shown in the pics) and the LG is just bit more snug, but still not race snug. It’s a good balance. The feel while wearing is very soft and comfy except for one part I will mention later. I could not get it to stink no matter what I did, like wearing it and not washing it. Wool blends are nice that way. It’s not hot to wear, and even on warm days, was quite good.
There are three back pockets and one zipped security pocket with some reflective bits here and there are on the back. There is a sticky, silicone strip on the long tail to keep the jersey from riding up. It’s a basic, well proven set of features that works. I have to say that it looks well made, with good stitching and some reinforcement at stress points.
At 120 bucks, it seems like the value is there, although I have not been in it over a long period of time or used it heavily enough to know durability. One really annoying thing: That ‘Bontrager Adventure’ label on the inside at the collar. It is not sewn in, but seems to be glued or something, which is fine, but the edges are rough and are free to lift off the surface of the jersey. Result? Itchy-scratchy right on the spine. I actually only noticed it when wearing it in the car driving to and back from rides. Perhaps it is not pressing hard enough while riding to have it annoy. Washing it takes some care. The tag says wash this jersey separately in cold water. So just tossing it into the wash with all the rest of the kit might not be such a great idea. I hung it dry. It’s something that will stay in my closet for now. Not all items do. But if I cannot come to terms with the itchy tag I might have to pass it on.
The shorts are a mixed bag as well. They are good looking and wearing them does not pin you down as a cyclist. They look good enough to wear into town and the multitude of pockets are functional, etc. I even noticed that the right rear pocket is rolled slightly to the front of the short at the hip, I assume to allow for riding with something in your back pocket. Other nice touches include the hidden reflective band sewn into the inside hem of the left leg. A simple flip up of the short leg gives you a bit of comfort for riding in dark places in traffic. The material is stretchy, so it gives well in a pinch.
Overall I was just lukewarm about them though. They do not breathe particularly well, something that would be true about most shorts like this, so they feel a bit hot in really warm days. I do wish the legs were longer as, when I had them riding high on the waist, they pulled up enough to be too tight on my thighs and I am muscular, but slim. I also seemed to notice them a lot when pedaling and that bothered me, like they were binding or pulling somewhere even if I could not completely pin down where.
I did sell a pair to a friend who saw me in them over a couple of days of gravel riding and liked them enough to order some when he got home. So there is that.
At $99.99, and with the ability to use them for casual, non-bikey use, the cost seems decent, but riding in them left me only sort of happy.
Note: Riding Gravel was sent the various apparel pieces by Bontrager at no charge for test and review. We were not paid,nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.