The Bontrager GR2 has been designed for day-long riding on mixed or more rugged terrain.
Its synthetic upper is perforated and comes with protective toe and heel bumpers, while the nylon composite sole has an aggressive lugged rubber outsole with placements for additional studs.
It features a classic lace fastening and heel loop for hanging to dry or airing after riding.
If you like a shoe that doesn’t obviously shout ‘bike!’, the GR2 has the look and feel of an approach shoe. It has padding where you need it on the tongue and around the ankle, and a roomier, more casual fit.
That fit, together with a relatively high collar, caused some initial concern about how well they would actually work for my feet, which usually suit slim profiles better, but this turned out not to be an issue, with the BR2 giving me the win-win of a good fit with room to breathe.
Laces aren’t my favourite fastening because I always find I have to re-tighten them during a ride, but they are a good alternative to a single-Boa setup when it comes to creating an adaptable fit, and they suit the GR2’s casual styling.
The nylon composite sole doesn’t compete with the full-carbon soles of more expensive shoes if you really want to put the power down – but Bontrager’s GR2 is not a shoe designed for that purpose. And when it comes to longer, more mellow rides over mixed surfaces and more social cycling, it works well.
The rugged rubber outsole makes the GR2 solid underfoot, and only in the most extreme conditions would I think of bothering to add the studs.
The sole is more flexible than most, which makes it better for walking and the protective heel and toe bumpers mean it shrugs off knocks too.
The GR2’s upper is stiff when new and it does take more than a few rides to mould to your foot, but at this attractive price point it’s far from being a dealbreaker.
Bontrager’s GR2 is a durable shoe with a good overall specification, delivering no-nonsense performance at an accessible price.
How we tested
Gravel shoes need to balance stiffness and efficient power transfer, comfort for longer rides and walkability for rugged terrain or off-the-bike use.
Throw into the mix the special individuality of fit and it is easy to see why there is unlikely to be one perfect solution so the best place, as with everything bike, is to start by considering your own skills, fitness and preferred riding in order to understand whether you might want to trade off some walking ease for stiffness or if comfort is everything.
So, to help you choose what’s best for you, we’ve mixed up country lanes with dirt tracks, bridleways and forest roads on day-long routes. Nothing too extreme technically but all calling for dismounts to push up steep climbs, open gates and to hit the coffee queue.
Also on test:
- Fizik Terra X5
- Giro Sector
- Lake MX176
- Mavic Allroad Pro
- Northwave Rockster
- Rapha Explore
- Scott MTB Comp Mid
- Shimano XC501
- Specialized Recon 3.0