Bontrager is known for making excellent cycling shoes for both road and mountain biking. This year, they launched three new Boa-equipped road shoes with the Specter being the high-value, entry-level model in the line.

Bontrager Specter Road Shoes Features:

  • InForm race last — high-performance, but roomier fit
  • Boa IP1 lacing system
  • Nylon composite sole with PowerTruss bridge
  • Compatible with 3-hole or 2-hole cleat designs
  • Available in three colors: Black, White/Black and Visibility Yellow (tested)
  • Weight: 275 grams (size 44 each, weighed)
Bontrager Specter Road Shoes Review - Visibility Yellow

Those aren’t Easter eggs in the grass.

The affordable, visible Specter road shoes

This year, Bontrager has spent considerable effort pushing their latest shoe technologies down the line and the $159 Specter is a perfect example of those Trickle Down Economics. With the crowd-pleasing Boa IP1 lacing system, InForm fit, breathability and a capable nylon sole, these shoes come in high on the value scale.

Aside from packing as many features as possible into these shoes, I’m particularly grateful for the Visibility Yellow color. While it may not always be easy to sport hyper-visible colors with every kit in my closet, it’s nice having a pair of shoes that do that job for me. With 360-degree visibility, these shoes give me extra confidence that I’ll be seen at every turn.

Visibility Yellow means business. Check out how bright these are in low light conditions.

Visibility Yellow means business. Check out how bright these are in low light conditions.

For starters, I’m a huge fan of the Boa IP1 dial system. Frankly, I don’t know that any other closure system is even worth a second look. The benefits of the Boa closure are plenty, but my absolute favorite is the intuitive opposing ratcheting system with the left and right foot. Reaching down mid-stroke, the dial is easily tightened or loosened. I find myself tweaking the fit throughout my ride as my feet swell or if I want a more responsive or looser fit. One click is noticeable in either direction.

Another huge benefit is the ability to adjust fit while wearing shoe covers — yeah, Boa pretty much kills it. My feet are instantly locked into place and never slipped or loosened over time.

The Specter is intended for the enthusiast who wants all the features and solid comfort to boot. Speaking of comfort, these are my first pair of InForm road shoes and my feet have been instantly happy. Keep in mind that the Specter does have a little bit of a generous fit. So, for normal width feet, you’ll end up with plenty of wiggle room in the toe box. If you have wide feet, these should be a fantastic match.

Bontrager Specter Shoe Review - Visibility Yellow

The Specter’s are really great shoes for the money.

While the PowerTruss nylon soles are admirably stiff, there’s no getting around the fact that a carbon sole is much stiffer and responsive. If you don’t know the wiser, these are plenty stiff, but if you are serious about performance, it’s worth looking into Bontrager’s upgraded models with stiffer, carbon soles.

I’ve appreciated the breathability on long rides and while I have more breathable shoes, these are still pretty good. On another note, I have had only minimal toe numbness here-and-there. I will add that since these do have a bit of a wider last, I did have to move my Speedplay cleats inward as far as possible to give me more crankset clearance. It actually puts me in a natural position and delivers just the right amount of clearance to boot.

The uppers clean up nicely and have been durable thus far. If you are going to just use the 3-bolt cleat holes, do yourself a favor and stuff electrical tape or something to keep the 2-bolt plate from jingle jangling around with every pedal stroke.

The Good

  • Love the Visibility Yellow color
  • Nylon composite sole is admirably stiff for the price
  • Flexible cleat mounting for road or MTB cleats
  • Good breathability
  • Boa IP1 — it’s the best closure system money can buy

The Bad

  • No replaceable treads
  • 2-hole cleat plate jingles with every pedal stroke
  • Plastic sole lacks punch

Bottom Line: Bontrager Specter Road Shoes

Highly-visible, comfortable and affordable — those are some of the highlights of Bontrager’s new Specter road shoes. Getting a Boa IP1 lacing system at this price is astounding. If you need a stiffer sole or more snug fit, have a look up the line, but these will suit the majority of riders who will appreciate saving some Benjamin’s.

Buy Now: Visit or Your Local Trek Dealer

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


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