This review will remind you of the recent review of Northwave’s Speedsters, and it should. Northwave use a few of the same features, but do it with upgraded materials and a little more flair. The New Aerators combine with the Speedster model to provide Northwave with a very good one-two punch in the shoe wars…
Looking at a preview of the ad that Northwave just put together for their new top of the line shoe, I was noticing the Legs on Marty Nothstein and thinking “how in the hell do shoes hold together when he and people like him (which consist of only a handful of guys on the planet) start to put the power through them?” Then I looked a little closer and noticed how large the ventilation area was and that made the “how do shoes hold together” question even more complicated… I guess all I need to know is that they look nice and work well enough for me, but it’s nice to know that if I did double my power output, I wouldn’t have to buy new shoes…
With the uppers looking so slick, the sole might not catch your attention while on the road, but out of the box it was the first thing to grab my eyes. Sure it looks cool and flashy (for all those times when you crash and people get to see the bottom of your feet…) but more important is that it’s functional.
As Flash goes, it has the standard (or standard for high end) Carbon weave pattern, but also has little holes so you can see that it is reinforced with Titanium. I also like the steel rails that run down the sole, placed in just the right spot to keep wayward (clumsyassmissed) clip-ins from raking the carbon. Northwave call them “Harmonic” rails, and say that they disperse road vibration, although I don’t notice vibration being less in these shoes than in the Speedsters. But vibration killing or not, the steel bars are good where they are.
A very cool feature on these shoes are the adjustable cleat mounting holes. What a great idea to have a shoe that will line up with wayward 3-hole cleats, but also allow for more side-to-side adjustment than most cleats have built in.
I like to have my feet a little closer together, but a few ride mates use pedal spacers to push their pedals further out. I think they could do without the added weight and fuss of pedal spacers with these shoes.
The fastening system is made up of two Velcro straps and the same Micro-Tech system found on the Speedsters. After lots of miles on the Speedsters and a few on the Aerators, the adjustments are positive and secure. I do find that getting a hold on the little tab on the Micro-Tech buckle system takes some effort when done on the fly though. Northwave should make the tab that flips up more prominent (longer, larger than it is, or with a small bump) than the tab that stays put, so that flipping it up takes less effort (and no looking) for the more clumsy folks (like me).
What I do like more than my Carnac and Sidi shoes (both are great) is the ventilation in both the new pairs from Northwave. What’s kinda funny is that the ventilation is better on the Speedster shoe that on the Aerator. Don’t get me wrong, on a scale of 1 to 10, the Aerator is a 10 for ventilation, it’s just that the Speedsters are an 11… They got the design right for both shoes, but I think they got the names backwards.
The upper is also noticeably wider on the Aerators than anything else Northwave has made, and that is a good thing. Northwave are known to be a bit narrow and the Speedster’s addressed this with a more flexible upper, but the Aerators go one better and add a wider platform to the similar and comfortable “Web Power Cage” design found on the speedster. These also feature the same fold over tongue that, combined with the web power cage system works very well at dispersing the duties of holding your foot in place across the entire upper. There is also just enough flexibility in the upper to allow for comfort without sacrificing performance.
The Aerators also feature the “Ultra Y Super Light Heel Retention System”. That’s 10 pounds worth of name for a pretty small piece of gear… But it works well. Your feet stay secure, but there is no pinch or bind and the heel cup moves “with” you more than simply grabbing your foot. I guess Bicycle Marketing peole have a rule that when a part works well, the name has to get bigger (which is why we have about 600 names for Aluminum…), but the point is the heel cup works well…
All of the above is evidence that these are top of the range shoes. But if none of the above were readily visible, the $350.00 retail would be a quick reminder too. Big dollar shoes are pretty normal now, so laying out thirty five thousand pennies shouldn’t be too hard for most of you super wealthy-types that read PEZ. Just be sure you’re getting this much shoe for that much money!
Best features are Ventilation (second only to the Speedsters), the adjustable cleat mounting on a very rigid sole and the super cool looks (you have to like the little toe vent in front). The Low spot would be that not everyone will be able to afford these, and adjustment on the go is a little more tricky than some other shoes. But these things are extremely well made and comfortable straight out of the box. Northwave’s have a fairly flat sole, so for those of you that need some tilt, check out the Lewedge from Lemond (they used to be “Big Meat”).
Have a gander at the entire Northwave range at Trialtir. They have at least one or two other cool things to look at also…
And as always, if you have experience, good or bad with anything we review here, drop us a line!