If there’s one thing I hate testing, it’s usually shoes… Not because there are not a host of good ones out there, but because they are all a little different, and like saddles, I might think one stinks, but the next guy might love it. You’re forced to look at the merits of the shoe’s build quality and materials and sometimes ignore the fit and just pass judgment on the features, and there are some that you can’t even do that with, because the fit is just too far off. That said, I slid these things on and just got a big smile.
The design of the shoe is such that plenty of adjustability wraps your feet in a way that feels kind of like a form fit. Northwave have been too narrow for me in the past, but this new upper seems to allow for more room. There is a huge amount of mesh that is supported by what Northwave call the “Web Power Cage”. It is a framework of very strong material spread out over the upper, but done so in a web pattern that spreads out the load. It works out pretty well, as most shoes use strap adjustments to find a fit, but you feel the straps on your up stroke because all the pressure gets forced to the strap area. On the Northwave’s, the Straps are there, but it feels more like the load is spread out across the upper a little better. It also means that when you snug down the straps that the web kinda wraps around your foot.
The Web Power Cage, plus the foot-wrapping tongue design & straps (rather than the traditional tongue where the shoe sides pull toward the middle) all work to create a really nice fit without a hint of binding.
The lower straps are standard Velcro and the new buckle system on the top strap works pretty easy. You just flip up the tab and turn the buckle tighter or looser as you desire and slide the buckle mech backwards to disengage it fully (it should not disengage unintentionally when snug).
The sole of the shoe is a pretty critical area. It has to be very strong and rigid (but not too rigid). It has to be thin so that your foot is as close to the pedal as possible. It has to be durable and abrasion resistant. And it has to do all that while being light. Northwave call their sole the TLS system. They say a lot about it but it’s pretty simple. It is a Thermoplastic sole with a Ti Plate. As the Ti is very thin, I would imagine that the Zytel sole does the brunt of the work and the Ti does a little but looks cool.
The Heel cup is nice and low on these shoes and is in a nice Biomechanical shape that doesn’t put pressure on the Achilles, but wraps around the heel nicely and holds very firm. Northwave call it the “Ultra Y super light heel retention system”. I call it functional and snug.
The installation of cleats was quick and easy. The hardware is well done and the cleats screwed into place with no binds or bad threads.
On the bike, these Ride well. The sole is on par with the other top range shoes I use from Carnac and Sidi.
The best feature that these will have, as the bitter cold weather we have here in Phoenix goes away (yeah, I am laughing at the northern PEZ-Contingent), is the super breathable uppers! Northwave were able to use a very thin mesh because the Web Power Cage bears the workload so the mesh doesn’t need to act as a support material. The result is that with standard socks on, I could feel the wind on my feet. That’s gonna be sweeter than sweet come summer (when the northern contingent at PEZ get to laugh right back…). I would imagine these are made well enough (and the inside is comfortable and finished well enough) to go sockless after they are broken in fully and will almost be like wearing sandals!
So there it is. Italian kicks made buy very good shoe guys that are still hand crafting in Italy and distributed by top notch folks at Trialtir. The New Speedsters are a little friendlier to people with wide feet than others from the line, and they are hot weather dreamboats. They come in a red and white pattern that I like a lot (and would have matched my personal bike Damn It!)
Get more info at:
The Trialtir website: Trialtir-USA.com
The NorthWave Website: