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THROUGH THE GRINDER

We’ve had biblical rain, pea-souper fog, snow, freezing rain and occasionally, the bluest of blue sky days. Throughout all of this, the Grinder test team has been riding at all hours to bring you this issue’s collection of rubber and metal on test. Enjoy it while we go for a bit of a lie-down.

BONTRAGER: RHYTHM SHOES

Price: £139.00

From: Trek Bikes, trekbikes.com

Tested: Three months

By: Wil

One of the best trends of the past few years has been the ruggedisation of clipless mountain bike shoes. Contrary to yesteryear’s delicate tap-dancing slippers and their fake tread blocks made from hard plastic, modern clipless shoes are burlier, more protective, and sensibly adorned with grippy rubber soles. Case in point; the Bontrager Rhythm shoe.

Bontrager recently relaunched the Rhythm shoe with a ground-up redesign. It’s still billed as a comfortable trail shoe, but it’s been amped up with a few more bells and whistles.

The Rhythm is designed for use with clipless pedals, and so it’s built with a carbon-reinforced nylon shank for stiff pedalling performance. There’s a BOA IP1 dial for making quick adjustments while in the saddle, and the upper is reinforced with the sweet-sounding GnarGuard to protect your tootsies when it all goes tits-up.

The Rhythm shoe is available in Orange/Black and Black/Gum colours, and you can have it in whole sizes from 39 through to 48. There’s even a low volume women’s version called the Tario.

As a shoe brand, Bontrager doesn’t really do the skate style. Instead, the Rhythm takes its inspiration from cross-country race shoes like the Cambion. The result is a firm-feeling shoe with a relatively slim profile overall, which means you can wear overshoes if needed. And thanks to the BOA dial, I could still adjust the tension even with a waterproof overshoe on top. As a result, the Rhythms have copped a hiding over the winter season.

In terms of sizing, Bontrager shoes sit on the wider side of the spectrum alongside Specialized. They feature a blunt toe box that offers plenty of wiggle room, and overall they’re a touch wider than a Shimano or Giro equivalent. For our medium-footed testers, the Rhythm fitted like the proverbial glove. For my narrow feet, however, I found them to be a two-sock affair. Fine in the colder seasons, but less than ideal in summer.

In use, the Rhythm delivers excellent power transfer whether you’re running tiny, lightweight cross-country pedals or broad platform clip pedals. Although they’re only rated as 7/14 on the stiffness index (who governs this shoe-stiffness board anyway?), the Rhythm is damn stiff in the real world, even after being broken in. In fact, some added flex would be appreciated for off-the-bike excursions, as the rubber lugs are plenty grippy when tackling wet stiles and uphill scrambles.

Although some may be put off by the fetishist pimpled look, the GnarGuard provides excellent protection around the toe box and the outside of the forefoot. The reinforced heel cup is sturdy, and there’s loads of protection there too. I also really like the added ankle protection, which is comfortable and effective, but low profile enough to avoid crank rub.

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About Singletrack

Editorial The publishing world is changing (again) and we’re going to be changing with it. Here’s how. UK Adventure: The Breakfast Club Sanny discovers that apple pie and custard for breakfast tastes better on the side of a hill you rode up the night before. Trail Hunter: Fremington Edge Tom Fenton earns his descents in the Yorkshire Dales. Build It And You Will Ride Many riders dream of building their own, perfect bike. Chipps takes on a TIG welding, frame building course. Room 101 Mark presides over your submissions - will you persuade him to put anything into Room 101? Interview: Katy Winton It’s not been an easy road to the top. Pete Scullion finds out how this cheerful Scot nearly gave up on bikes for good. Classic Ride: Dead Breconing Barney finds the Brecon Beacons offers a bigger day out than might be expected. With bigger nettles too. Grouptest: Trail Pumps Every rider should carry a reliable pump. Chipps checks out ten to determine which should be in your pack for that ‘last minutes of light, in the sleet’ puncture. Bike Test: Wagon Wheelers. Plus. Barney put three huge-wheeled 29+ bikes to the test. Is bigger better, or just different? Through The Grinder What has survived a winter on the test bikes of the Grinder Team? We bring you some not so shiny goods. Grinder Bike: Whyte T-130 A British bike designed for British conditions. What will our resident Australian make of it? International Adventure: Mount Elbert, Colorado EWS rider Jérôme Clementz takes a day off by getting up at 4am to ride up Colorado’s highest peak. Last Word The vortexes of Sedona make Hannah come over all flowery as she escapes the daily school run.
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