Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sugru + Bike shoes = something

Last week I did some (slight) bemoaning of what I felt were some downgrades Bont made with the Zero+ over the older Zero, mainly the inclusion of the toe bumper/bash guard. On a practical level I understand how it made it's way onto the shoe (nobody wants to jack up their $400+ Bont's.) but from an aero eyeball standpoint it looks like a clear step backwards.

Comparing it to my DMT P1's (which, I planned to test last weekend but unfortunately it was far too windy to tease out something like this) you can just see how much more "junk" is plastered onto the Bont's. After sulking a bit at the bad fortune of weather I convinced myself that the Bont's were just not on the same playing field regardless, but I figured I could do some slight modifications to try to even up the playing field.

The first thing to go was the toe pad on the bottom of the shoe. Since these are going to be track and/or TT shoes exclusively, there isn't going to be much walking around in them going on. The bulky toe pad just adds some frontal area and realistically with most cleat setups the very front of your shoe is going to be floating in air regardless. I decided to leave the heel pad on as I figured it was much more likely to be a "necessity" than the front. It looked like a simple removal, just one phillips head screw holding it on... in practice though it is also loctite'd on, which along with the previous owners sweat/dirt/road spray/pee(?)/etc they were quite the bear to remove. With enough prying (and disregard for the pads themselves shape after removal) I got them both off in about half an hour, could have been a little faster if I had less concern for the carbon sole.

Unfortunately the front bumper was a little more troubling. It's just loctite'd on, and at least from my inspection looks to be a moderately integral part of the shoe's upper. Being unable to find any pictures of it removed (I guess most people are unwilling to experiment/destroy their high end shoes) I concluded that it's not coming off. So, on to plan B... smooth it out. There were a couple of ways (each with scaling levels of permanency/damage to the shoes) to do it, but honestly I was kind of excited to find a good use for something Heath Dotson turned me onto... Sugru.


Sure, it looks like a late night infomercial product, but I figured I'd give it a go regardless, so after a quick trip to the local Target (and nearly scratching the idea after balking at the price tag on 3 little packs! $11... it had better work!) I was ready to see what kind of mess I could make.

Using Sugru is about as natural as it gets. You rip the little pack open and are greeted with what seems to be a very small amount of Play-doh. Feel is the same as well. There is certainly no indication that you are actually using a moldable glue, that's for sure. It took me roughly a pack for each shoe to cover and smooth out the bumpers. I had enough left over in the second pack that I went back and also smoothed over the little holes in the carbon sole left where the toe pad used to be. I was a bit dubious, as even after 20 minutes or so of messing with it, nothing seemed to be getting any harder. (That's what she said...badabump)

before (back) and after

The next morning they had "cured" and it certainly was no longer Play-doh. Even my (half hearted, I didn't really want to break it off) attempts at chiseling it didn't phase the hardened Sugru.  It certainly seems strong enough to continue it's life as a toe bumper on the shoe, and now it's nice and smooth.

Don't laugh at my molding skills

The question is really did any of this help? If it did help, was it enough for it to actually show up/matter, and even then, is it better than the already very smooth DMT's (or even Specialized Sub6's) My gut still tells me no way, but I'm willing to be wrong, maybe even slightly hopeful since the Bont's actually FEEL a lot nicer than the Specialized or the DMT's. Hopefully I'll get a little nicer weather in the coming week or two and I can get out and test them and finally have the answers.

So, back to Sugru. I used the final pack to fix a couple of things around the house (mostly little bits of my 3D printer that I wanted to semi-permanently - Sugru IS removable - bond.) and it has actually converted me to being a fan. It's slightly expensive for what is primarily "cool" with the side benefit of occasionally being handy, but there are some real uses for it out there in the cycling world. (Heath had mentioned filling in the gap of non-aero speedplay cleats with Sugru... seemed like a good use to me)

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