Bontrager’s shoe lineup is looking pretty dialed these days with something for almost everyone. Their Foray shoes are their mid-level, do-it-all clipless mountain bike shoe that falls more on the XC end of the spectrum. Designed to be truly versatile Trek says that they’re ideal for mountain biking, cyclocross, and gravel riding. I put them to the test in a bunch of different riding scenarios. Priced at $164.99 USD (available at Trek and REI), the Foray sits roughly in the middle of their lineup, with a couple of more basic cross-country shoes below it, a couple of enduro-style shoes around the same price including the Rally, and a couple of stiffer, high-performance XC shoes topping out the range.
Features and construction
The Foray has some smart features built in with little you don’t need. Representing the middle of the lineup they forego some higher-end features such as carbon soles and focus more on being versatile and useable. Instead of carbon, Bontrager uses a nylon composite sole which, while heavier, is still stiff enough for most people.
The upper shoe is made from a perforated and tough synthetic leather-type material which seems to have held up well so far and keeps those who don’t like using animal products happy. The outsole uses a Tachyon rubber compound and has removable nylon toe spikes. In the middle of the sole is the cleat plate which takes traditional 2-bolt, SPD-style cleats. Wrapping around the toe and heel of the shoe is Bontrager’s Gnarguard rubberized coating which helps fend off scuffs and abrasions and adds a little extra rider protection – these shoes feel pretty solid with a decent level of protection around the toes.
Other features include a single Boa dial on each shoe for fastening and a single hook and loop strap to cinch up the toe area. The Foray comes in four different color options including plain old Black, Royal Blue, Quicksilver/Black, and Olive Grey/Radioactive Orange seen here.
I come in at a size 45 in most shoes, and the Foray is pretty much true to fit. The Boa dials make it super easy to get the shoes on and off as they open up quickly and easily and make it a cinch to get them nice and snug. The hook and loop strap however makes little difference to the fit as there isn’t a whole lot of movement in it. I found the toe box to be a little wide for my feet and so there’s a little more movement at the toe end of the shoe than I would like. However, these would likely be a good choice for anyone with wide feet.
On the trail
Overall the Foray is a comfortable shoe and feels well connected to the pedals due to the stiff sole and snug fit made possible by the Boa dials. As far as mountain bike shoes go, they’re certainly on the XC side of things with a little toe protection but very little around the sides of the shoe, meaning my ankles could take a bit of a beating on more technical trails where the bike is moving around a little more underneath me. While not especially light, they feel stiff and power transfer into the pedals is good, though not on the level of an XC race shoe. This means they’re not impossible to wear while walking around off the bike, pushing up a trail, or running on a CX course with the bike on one shoulder, nor are they unbearably stiff on longer rides. The knobs on the sole are relatively grippy, but there’s still not as much grip as say a flat-soled shoe like the Rally for pushing up trails. For a shoe this XC-oriented though, the cleat channel works better than most at guiding cleats into the pedals.
I found that the Foray was ideal for big rides that are more about efficiency than sending gnarly features, and even for trail riding, I might want something with a little more protection. That said, people that don’t tend to hit their ankles much and like to power up the climbs might like them more. As far as versatility goes though, these toe the line between a mountain bike and road shoe pretty well, and I’ve found myself grabbing these for my gravel bike every single time. With just enough grip and mud clearance and a nice stiff sole with good power transfer, they’re ideal for those dirt road and singletrack exploration rides on a drop bar bike.
As far as longevity goes, the nylon toe studs wore down pretty quickly and realistically are probably only good for a race situation. The rest of the shoe held up pretty well however with just some scuffs on the sole, some heel rub from the cranks, and a couple of spots that have rubbed through the rubber coating on the toes, most likely due to some poor line choice on my part.
The Foray is a great shoe for anyone who wants a mid-range XC/trail riding shoe and values comfort and efficiency over either race-level stiffness or sending gnarly trails. They’re a great price point shoe for the value-conscious rider or the XC racer on a tight budget. They would also make a great crossover shoe for anyone who rides XC/trails and gravel/road and doesn’t want to buy two pairs of shoes, and better suits those with wider feet.