Gear round-up: Bont a-three road shoes

Plus Shimano, Vredestein and 'Gold' by Chris Cleave

Bont produce some of the best – but priciest – road shoes out there. So it will be interesting to see how their new budget shoe, the a-three, works out.

When we say budget, it's still £125, but when you compare it to their £440 Crono, that's peanuts. The a-three has a fibreglass sole, hand laid and painted with resin, which Bont reckon adds up to one of the stiffest on the market. They weigh just 590g a pair (size 10 UK, 10.5 US), have a microfibre upper and use three Velcro straps and a replaceable ratchet system for fastening.

Sole guards on the front and back of the soles are replaceable, to protect the structure of the fibreglass. A flatter, anatomical forefoot shape is said to prevent constriction and allow the foot to function in its best position. They are available in silver/black only from Saddleback.

Shimano

Definitely not budget is Shimano's new race shoe, the £249.99 SH-R241B. Heat mouldable material in the heel and insoles can be shaped to suit your foot, while a carbon sole helps keep weight down to a reasonable 666g (size 11 UK, 11.5 US). 

The shoes are built with a synthetic leather upper with stacks of ventilation on the front, along with added holes in the sole. They're compatible with SPD-SL or Look cleats and come in sizes from 6.5 to 14 (7-14.5 in the US). See Madison for more details. 

Vredestein

Vredestein's Fortezza TriComp tyre (£40) is part of their Competition line and is designed for all weather conditions. With an extremely low rolling resistance and thin casing (120 threads per inch), it's ideally suited to racing and sportives

It now comes in this 700x25c size to accompany the existing 700x23c, and is available in nine colours – black, yellow, grey, pink, green, orange, white, blue and red. Available from Saddleback

Gold, by Chris Cleave

Cycling books are going through something of a golden age at the moment, but the vast majority are biographies. Novels are much thinner on the ground, but Chris Cleave, author of international bestseller The Other Hand, is changing that with his latest book, Gold

It tells the story of two international track cyclists, Kate and Zoe, who met at 19 on their national training programme and struck up a friendship. Now 32, they are preparing to face off against each other in one final race, the 2012 London Olympics. Kate, the more naturally gifted, is fighting another battle in her personal life with the serious illness of her eight-year-old daughter.

Zoe, an intense individual with a compulsive need to win, must decide how far she's willing to go to beat her friend and rival, and whether winning is more important than friendship.

The book, out now priced £16.99 and published by Hodder, is said to "examine the values that lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships, and the choices we make when lives are at stake and everything is on the line".

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