In the same way that the BikeBox stand was covered in Schwalbe-blue, the GKA Sports stand was dressed head to toe in Vittoria-green. Best known in the Australian cycling industry for their distribution of Vittoria & Geax tyres and tubes, GKA Sports also sell a wide range of road and mountain bike product including Motorex lubes, oils & degreasers, Genuine Innovations pumps & accessories, SuperB tools, BOA bottles, Control Tech components, Slime tubes and even Dosh silicone wallets (well-cool). There were two products in their booth that interested us in particular, Bont shoes and FOSS superlight tubes.
For those who don’t know, Bont is a shoe-specific brand based up in Sydney, and specialises in high-end carbon fiber, heat mouldable shoes. While Bont is better known in the road cycling world, they actually have their roots in Ice-Skating, where they founded their first fiber-glass reinforced skate booth in 1975. Only coming onto the cycling scene in 2007, Bont quickly established a reputation for their quality product after claiming 8 gold models at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – not a bad start at all!
The Bont Vaypour XC is their high performance shoe for mountain biking and cyclocross racing. It features a full carbon sole, and a pair tips the scales at just 340 grams each side (claimed). They use a single adjustable buckle at the top of the shoe, and an offset velcro strap over the forefoot. The tread on the outer sole is replaceable. The Vaypour XC retails for a reasonable $299, though Bont also make a cheaper and more flexible ‘Commuter-One’ shoe that should serve the purpose of the all-round cyclist, and will only set you back $189.
Bont construct the carbon sole to create a “Fully Heat Moldable Chassis utilizing Epoxy Thermoset Resin”. That simply means that when you leave the shoes in the oven at 70-degrees Celcius for 20 minutes and place your feet in them, the shell actually moulds around your feet as the carbon cools and the Epoxy returns to a hardened state. In the above photo, you can see how far up the side of your feet the mouldable carbon extends.
The concept is based around providing a more comfortable fit, as well as better lateral support to the shoe. In addition to the heat moulding process, Bont also offer their shoes in a regular width as well as narrow and wide versions. Some of their shoes also come in half sizes from a European size 36 through to 50. However, if your feet are fussier than that, you can always go fully custom too.
So you’re probably looking at that FOSS tube and wondering; what the hell is that? It’s true that many of us kissed inner tubes goodbye a long time ago, but for many riders out there, the mess and inconsistencies associated with tubeless conversions are not always worth the benefits.
FOSS tubes aren’t just any old tube however, as they’re constructed from a super thin “highly polymerized un-vulcanized rubber composite”, which uses thermoplastic elastomer compounds to create a flexible and stretchy inner tube. Aside from making them about 30% lighter than a regular inner tube, it also makes them self-healing to an extent, so that they’re much more resistant to intrusions from thorns and such. Or at least so we’re told. We’d be keen on trying out the $22.50 tubes, but as a lightweight and much cleaner alternative to running tubeless rim strips, valves and sealant, they could be the ticket for those that like to change their tyres for different conditions.