The Flatlines are Bontrager’s first stab at proper flat-pedal shoes, and use a slightly-curved Vibram outsole. I found this took a few rides to bed in, but once my pedal pins started to bite into the rubber properly, the traction was impressive.
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Five Ten still takes top honours when it comes to steadfast, almost immovable grip on the pedal, but the Flatlines come close to my current go-to shoes, Specialized’s 2FO 2.0s, when it comes to offering loads of traction without making it feel like your feet are stuck in place.
A large-block pattern is used across most of the outsole for better pedal interaction, but the toe and heel get a directional tread to help off the bike. This works pretty well but isn’t as grippy as others out there.
Because the sole is quite shallow, it doesn’t offer masses of cushioning, but there’s loads of feel and feedback, which lets you know exactly where your shoes are on the pedals.
At 708g (UK 43), the Flatlines are light. They take puddle splashes without getting soaked and dry really quickly too. The upper isn’t as padded or supportive as on the likes of the 2FOs and feels closer to that of a regular trainer.
Some testers appreciated the comfort and flexibility this offered, while others (with old ankle injuries) wanted them to feel a little more secure.
The lace bungee is a nice touch and needs to be used, unless you trim the seriously long laces down.