After having bought (or tried) too many shoes that don't fit well, I'm considering
buying Bont shoes.
One question I have is about laces vs buckle: are the former OK to use for road riding
or are they only meant for track?
The road shoes with laces that I own have a cover on top of the laces (and two
velcro straps to hold it in place). Is there any noticeable effect of not having a cover?
Would using laces avoid the problem that has been described here about lengthening
Using laces might avoid the strap stretching issue, but of course, laces stretch too. The benefit I suppose is you can always buy new laces, but when you stretch out your straps (especially the buckle strap) you may eventually not be able to tighten them enough. There is also a 3 velcro strap version as well. I would think that the stretching issue would really apply more to the buckle, than the straps.
The disadvantage to the laces (track shoes) is it's lack of adjustability on the fly. There is only one velcro strap at the top of the shoe to cinch it close around your ankle. I don't think it provides quite as good support as the excellent design of the Bont buckle strap does. The cover is only for appearance and perhaps a small aero advantage, but without the cover you'd have a bit more ventilation, a common issue with prospective Bont buyers (I have worn these for over 5 hours on so many occasions in 40 C weather this summer and their ventilation never even crossed my mind... I was more concerned with how hot my jersey felt. I think is due to the breathability of the micro-fiber upper.)
For those who feel the shoes are too roomy, you can semi-custom order your shoes for "skinny" feet which basically have less upper material and therefore a lower shoe volume. If you don't have a lot of meat on the top of your feet or they're really boney, you may want to go this route. Unfortunately it's a bit difficult to tell, unless you've got a pair of stock Bonts in your size to try on before you order.
I have ridden my Bonts on many 200km rides with no foot pain (other than cramping of my toes which is only the result of dehydration) as well as enduros, elite road races, and crits. I and the other riders I know (except on the track) all use moldable insoles with Bonts to great effect. While keeping your foot as close to the pedal spindle is a benefit of Bonts, having a solid connection to the sole of the shoe is just as important. By removing the insole and replacing it with an ultra-thin custom moldable one (there are many great ones on the market) you can get the best fit, without sacrificing much of the benefits of the 3.6mm sole.
For best results, use a hot air gun to heat mold the shoes. You can get the best adjustment around the heel, arch, and toe box. Check the website for an instructional video.
Regarding them being water proof: The upper might well be, but the ventilation holes certainly aren't! They let plenty of water in. An unresolved issue is the lack of drainage for the shoes, but you can always drill them yourself;) I'm planning on doing so with mine in the near future, but maybe after winter