Northwave, as a brand, can sometimes feel like a sleeping giant. They have a large presence, going between bike, snow, and lifestyle items, but it sometimes feels like their presence isn't that pronounced on the mountain biking scene despite them sponsoring some top pros over the years, most notably some of the fastest enduro racers.
• Lightweight and trail orientated
• Five colorways available
• Sizes: US 4.5-15
• MSRP: $150 USD
Their high-end road shoes are a common site in the pro-peloton, though, and the size of their range truly does dwarf most brands with options covering gaiter-equipped snow boots to lightweight XC race shoes. In recent years, it seems the brand has been trying to branch out into more aggressive forms of off-road riding and even released a range of flat pedal shoes several years ago which reviewed fairly well.
Making a decent flat pedal shoe is something that eludes most brands that have their roots in different areas of cycling, but Northwave managed to make a sole that was sticky enough to be ridden hard. Maybe not Five Ten levels of grip, but probably close enough to be considered a good effort.
On test, we have their Corsair model, which is meant to be a mid-level clipless trail shoe that aims to blend lightweight, breathability, and comfort for those that aren't looking for the stiffest and lightest shoe, nor the most robust and armored.
The shoe use a natural rubber sole and an upper that features large mesh inserts. To secure your foot in place there is a velcro strap, which works very similar to a power strap on a ski boot, and then an SLW3 dial for you to index the fit. And index
is the right word, as this dial can do click-by-click or full releases to make sure you get the fit just so.Comfort & Fit
The shoes are very comfortable to wear. They're very light, and forgo a lot of the compromises of a more gravity-focused shoe. They breathe well, fit securely and go without a lot of the bulk and padding that you can find on some shoes - all while remaining pleasant and flexible to wear. This isn't a brittle or near-rigid upper like you might find with some mesh-paneled or vinyl-like lightweight shoes. There is a fair amount of give in the upper, which makes it very accommodating. There are also mesh panels on the shoe to help get some air to your feet on hot days.
It is worth using Northwave's size guide, though, including measuring your foot. I sized down after using the guide and the fit is pretty decent. It does feel as if the padding around the heel fits a little low. In a size down, my relatively narrow feet didn't find them too boxy, and the length was good too. I think if I had gone for my normal size, the toe room would have probably been passable but the toebox would have been far too large. As it stands, apart from a word of caution to potentially think about downsizing, the fit seems relatively middle of the road.Performance
So, this isn't an ultra-stiff shoe nor is it meant for park laps on the downhill bike. What is it then? Well, I think it's a shoe for the casual rider. Normally, while I would comment on the stiffness of a clipless shoe when reviewing it, it isn't something that bothers me massively. The Northwave is a departure from that, though. This shoe is very flexible and, while great for walking, it doesn't offer enough support for even moderately aggressive cornering. Your foot bends around the edge of the pedal creating quite a significant hot spot.
Another nod to the casual rider would be the cleat depth. Even with no shims under the cleat, and the thicker traction pads in my chosen Mallet E pedals, I never felt that secure in the pedals and would often feel myself rotating and pivoting on the cleat itself as I tried to drive through the bike. This does make unclipping very easy though - for the good and the bad. It was a similar story with Shimano's trail pedals.
The fit of the shoe is great though, and I love the low weight and high breathability. The looks have also grown on me. Initially, I wasn't so sure of the European-backpacking-through-Australia aesthetics, but in the flesh their goofy looks lessen and I actually think it's quite a good-looking shoe. They certainly manage to combine a lot of function and fit into their tech upper.
Comfortable and secure+
Not enough contact with pedal interface-
Not particularly armoured-
A very flexy sole
|I'm not sure we'll ever be in the realm of snow-sports, where shoe stiffness and style are recommended based on an individual's skill or experience, and I don't think we ever want to get there, but the Corsair is a good shoe for beginners. It's comfortable, casual, and lightweight, plus its lack of contact on the pedal makes it very easy to get your foot and out away from the bike. For more experienced riders though, even those on XC or light trail bikes, it ultimately doesn't have the stiffness that they will demand.— Henry Quinney|
With that said, usually my number is a consistent 200watts rider input . . . promise. :-)
Desire, passion & an absolute worth of heart & soul fills every fiber of his being as the box on top is indeed a size 10 1/2 US. Tears well in his eyes as he is stunned to see that even these works of soled art are indeed available in a Wide. Toe. Box!
Wheeling upon heel like an Olympic skater carving that final turn pushed onward by the roars of adulation of the crowd...this dad surges to the counter, purchasing power enabled VISA debit card clinched deftly betwixt his fingers like a dart meant to win the match. Strolling confidently toward the door, he calls out - "Come boy. To the trails!"
Son, humiliated, embarrassed & disgusted to see what this once prideful man had become slumps shoulders, turns toward the door desperate to escape this embarrassing event. He's greeted by a proud parent punching the "Handicap Access Automated Door" button, chest puffed out, paunchy gut tucked into his dress khakis.
Muddled, dark, down trodden & disgusted, we but hear the child grunt under his breath "Gross shoes dad! Not cool!"
...as the automated door slowly whooses closed upon the now emboldened father & poor son as they embark on yet another Wednesday night group ride.
It was very obvious.
"On the pedals, the Clan is extremely grippy and offers all of the traction I could ask for, as much as any of the other leading shoes."
From this article:
"Maybe not Five Ten levels of grip, but probably close enough to be considered a good effort."
Yes, I bought a pair of Clans based on that review. Yes, I have learnt my lesson..
Feel like a movie set for a thriller or sci-fi movie
- Easily unclips
- Easily unclips
+ Comfortable and secure
+ Easy unclips
Just like my waist fastened boxer shorts