Review: The new Bontrager Circuit road shoes emphasize comfort, performance and cost

Bontrager’s newly revamped Circuit road shoes strike a balance between value and performance while focusing on comfort.

At $185, the single-Boa shoe is made for riders who “want to tackle a variety of road rides without making their feet pay for it.” Designed with Bontrager’s inForm Race last shape, the shoe is a bit roomier than the company’s inForm Pro models.

Circuit features

The Circuit’ nylon composite “Bronze Series” plate is rated 7 out of 14 for stiffness on Bontrager’s scale. It works with standard three-bolt cleats but it also gives riders the option to buy an additional steel cleat insert to use it with two-bolt cleats.

The shoe’s reinforced heel counter works to provide heel lock to help optimize power transfer and, underneath, a textured heel lugs helps with traction when walking.

On top, the flexible synthetic mesh and TPU upper has some perforations for breathability, in addition to the very small vent under the toe. The Circuit road shoe has what Bontrager calls “relief cuts” along the edges of the eyestays which help with flexibility over the midfoot and are designed, along with zonal security flaps and webbing guides, to prevent pinch points.

Testing the Bontrager Circuit road shoes

When a company says it’s going for comfort, I’m going to be actively and specifically looking for a comfortable foot as I ride with the shoes. I was inadvertently extra primed to test these shoes by having recently gone for a long walk with inappropriate footwear which caused a massive blister to form on my big toe (in my defence, where else would I have worn my new shoes right now?)

Me and wide feet, enhanced by my oversized big toe, set out to test these shoes on the road. Putting them on, the toe box was wide enough without even having to readjust the velcro, which immediately told me that the shoes wouldn’t be too compressive. If you’re part of the high arch gang like me, you’ll also appreciate the flexible upper with little pinch-point-avoiding features.

For the price, I would say the shoe looks and feels like some slightly more expensive model. I tested the nautical navy/radioactive coral colourway—I liked the tasteful high-vis touch of bright coral on the heel.

In terms of breathability the Circuit road shoes held up nicely on a hotter spring ride (a balmy 12 degrees), but weren’t too cold on a chilly morning ride. At 224g per size 38 shoe, the weight of the shoes was pretty insignificant as I tested them.

One other feature I liked was the reinforced heel and toe lugs. The shoes felt good for walking around and I would be confident taking them on a light gravel ride with SPD style cleats.

An accommodating shoe

Overall I was happy with the Circuit road shoes, they did hold up to my hard-mode comfort testing. Feet come in a variety of shapes—not just a variety of sizes—and these unisex shoes (designed for all genders) do a pretty good job of accommodating that.

The unisex Bontrager Circuit road shoes come in size 36-48 and are offered in five colourways: black, white, radioactive red, radioactive yellow and nautical navy/radioactive coral.

The Bontrager Circuit Road shoes will be available in store at your local Trek retailer with select sizes/colours and available online at for $185.

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