Bontrager’s OMW Winter Bike Shoe is a nearly-perfect cold-weather superstar.
I have cold feet. I don’t mean this figuratively as I’ve never hesitated to make a significant life decision, even if I am not sure about my choice—much to the dismay of the significant people in my life.
Literally, I have cold feet. My body has always performed better in extremely-hot conditions than it does in extremely-cold conditions. When the temperatures reach the high double digits, I’m fine with going out for a strenuous ride, yet when it’s cold, my body complains and refuses to work well.
Ed note: that was my last ride, very cold.
Living in the Northeast, this presents a problem, as the weather turns unseasonably cold for most people around November, yet for me, “unseasonable” can be any time where the temps drop below 50 degrees. I start to use shoe covers and toe warmers in the ’40s, and I’ve stopped in the middle of many winter rides to duck into a pizza place and bum a few sheets of aluminum foil from them to wrap around my toes.
Bontrager’s OMW Winter Bike Shoe is a game-changer for me. Designed for “fat bike” and commuter riders, the shoe claims to keep feet warm down to 10 degrees Farenheight (-4C), while the Vibram rubber outsole and weatherproof uppers keep the shoes dry even in a N’oreaster.
The Old Man Winter’s closure system is controlled by an oversized Boa dial, which is large enough to be operated even with gloved hands.
Inside the shoe is a removable insulated bootie, which is the key to keeping feet dry and warm.
While we’ve had some unseasonably warm temperatures here in New York, we’ve still had a share of brutally wet and cold days, and the Bontrager OMW makes riding in these conditions not only possible but enjoyable.
Many cycling boots are too cumbersome for comfortable riding, and these shoes look no different, yet they provide a remarkably stiff-yet-flexible platform for riding. I’ve mostly used them with my gravel bike while bumping over trails and on some extended hill climbs, and they don’t feel like a cement shoe, as do most of the winter boots I’ve used.
Bontrager recommends a size larger than your regular shoe size, and that’s good advice. My feet are particularly wide, and even at the full-size step up from my regular Euro 43 sizing, the fit is tight. It takes a bit of stomping and cursing to get my left—and slightly bigger—foot into the boot.
The burly Vibram-rubber sole makes for excellent traction in slippery conditions. While you can’t use this shoe with a three-hole Look cleat, it’s perfectly set up to run my favorite bad-weather road pedals, the discontinued Crank Brothers Quattro. I popped out the teeny cleats from the Quatro’s road-cleat set, and screwed them into place, and was off. (There’s also a nice rubberized cover for the cleat area if you’d prefer to use these boots as, well, boots.
A combination of the Boa dial and a velcro strap top closure makes for a very comfortable fit and keeps out the elements, which brings us to the one “miss” in this shoe. There is no way to adjust the heel cup’s tightness, and that left my foot pulling up from the footbed on most climbs. To be fair, this is not a feature on many other cold weather boots either, so it’s not like Bontrager is behind the pack. However, with a full-size bigger shoe to accommodate winter socks, the heel area feels a bit too oversized. Perhaps if I had narrow feet and so started with a 42 Euro sizing (which better matches my foot length), this wouldn’t be so noticeable, but I have to size up already because of wide feet.
I also can’t think of a mechanical way to allow for the waterproof design of the shoe, yet still make the heel cup externally adjustable, so I’d definitely vote for dry over perfectly-fit.
The only other issue I have with the boots is the lack of color choices. For a shoe designed for bike commuters, it would be nice to have some safety-yellow or hunter-orange colorway choices. Again, I’m not sure that the weatherproof uppers can be made from non-black rubberized material, but I’d love it if the front and rear of these boots had some visibility or reflectivity.
With a retail price of $324.99 (and a current sale price of $274.99), these shoes aren’t exactly for the budget-conscious, which is why I think Bontrager calls out fat bike riders and commuters. If you’ve got the disposable income to buy a bike to use primarily in the snow, or you’re riding every-single-work day, these shoes are a bargain.…