Best Northwave Road Cycling Winter Shoes & Boots Review

Northwave Winter Cycling Shoes & Boots

Heading the wrong way from the summer months often brings a change in weather. Black ice, heavy rain, dark days and darker nights, cold biting winds, uncertain road surfaces, ever changing weather conditions, crosswinds, tailwinds and the dreaded headwind, all equate to challenging winter cycling conditions.

For some cyclists, winter weather is the primary reason for not cycling through these cold, dark months but before you pack your bike away for the winter and make like a hibernating bear, take a moment to read through our Winter Cycling Guide for some tips on how to prepare for winter cycling.

“Winter Cycling – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”

One of my cycling groups’ favourite weather related quotes is, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”, which is usually followed by a shopping spree. Last year, I was determined to cycle through the winter and as expected, the weather turned cold and on one memorable ride, I must have commented on having cold feet. One of my cycling buddies commented on his Northwave winter boots, which happened to be a pair of Flash GTX winter shoes and the life changing effect it had had on his cycling. I know that sounds quite dramatic but just wait until you wear a pair of these boots on a cold winter day and you’ll be convinced.

Winter cycling evolution tends to start with additional layers, full fingered winter gloves, windproof jackets, bib tights and eventually a winter bike. Whilst many of us layer-up each part of our body, we often forget the feet, and are then surprised when one of our extremities is frozen. No my cycling friends, this is not acceptable, it’s time you discovered the joys of winter cycling shoes and boots.

Why Buy Winter Cycling Shoes

Cyclists frequently will try a whole host of other options before buying a pair of winter boots; toe covers, winter socks, lightweight over-shoes, heavy duty neoprene over-shoes and even the weird and wonderful like wrapping feet in cling film or aluminium foil. Come on, be honest, you’ve either done one of these or at least thought about it.

Once the list has been exhausted, or one of your cycling buddies has convinced you, you’ll have jumped on Google, typed “winter cycling boots”, or something and found this page. My own journey to buying my first pair of winter shoes was very similar and having now ridden for many hours in my Northwave boots, I’m absolutely convinced it was the best decision I’ve made for my feet and without doubt enabled me to cycle through the winter months with warm toes.

Toes are in the same place (not literally) as fingers, ears, noses etc in that our extremities suffer the most. Our bodies are designed to protect the most vital organs when temperatures drop towards freezing. After all, we can function without fingers and toes but not hearts and lungs.

Summer cycling shoes are designed with breathability and air circulation in mind but this means their are mesh panels and holes in the shoes, none of which are good for keeping our feet warm and dry in winter. To keep rain out of the shoes, they are designed from waterproof materials and often have a neoprene ankle cuff around the top of the shoes. This is the first defence against the cold. It is also the first thing you’ll probably notice as being different from your summer shoes.

The ankle cuff can take a little getting used to when putting the shoes on, and off. Shoe fastenings are similar to summer cycling shoes, in that they can have dials, ratchets and Velcro. These options allow you to have the shoe as tight or as relaxed as you like. The tendency at first with winter shoes is to have them as tight as possible but this isn’t necessary as the boots are designed to prevent cold and water getting in, so just fasten them as you would any other cycling shoes.

The choice of base when buying a winter cycling shoe is the same as any other cycling footwear, nylon may be cheaper than carbon but the extra flex may not be worth saving a few ££s as a firm footing will give you greater power on-pedal and greater comfort over longer rides.

A few things to consider with winter shoes include choice of sole. Winter Café stops are likely to result in you walking on surfaces which may be slippery due to rain and/or snow so some form of grip may be useful. Another consideration is getting the shoes off with gloved or cold hands, so easy exit fastenings, like those on all the Northwave boots, are perfect for cold winter days.

You may want to consider sizing-up from your summer shoes to your winter boots, especially if you intend to wear winter cycling socks. However, it’s not always necessary to wear thicker socks, as better winter shoes will be sufficient, except for the really cold weather. My Northwave winter boots are one-size up from my summer shoes, and sometimes I wear normal socks and sometimes I grab my Woolie Boolie winter socks, which are awesome! But be careful on wearing really thick socks as they’ll reduce space in the boot, restricting air flow and actually making your feet quite uncomfortable. Merino wool socks are a good option for winter cycling.

Best Northwave Road Cycling Winter Shoes & Boots Review

Northwave started in the early 1980s by Italian, Gianni Piva, who first saw an opportunity to supply winter boots to snowboarders, which was a sport just beginning to capture the imagination of skiers and other extreme sports enthusiasts. Within a decade, Northwave had become involved with cycling, having seen success with some early test shoes, and decided to extend their interest further, manufacturing an extensive range of high-end cycling shoes.

Northwave has always put quality first and have been recognised as one of the leading producers of cycling shoes and boots since their launch. This quality isn’t limited to the base fabrics, it also extends to the design itself. Northwave shoes have been worn by some well-known cyclists, including Mario Cipollini, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Frank and Andy Schleck, Alejandro Valverde and Tom Dumoulin.

Since launch, Northwave have extended their cycling range from making footwear to producing a wide range of cycling clothing, including jerseys, jackets, shorts, bib tights and a broad range of other products.

Northwave Extreme R GTX Winter Road Cycling Boot Review

Northwave seem to have an absolute focus on their craft, that is to make the best winter cycling shoes, and from my personal experience, as well as in this review, they’ve succeed. The Northwave Extreme R GTX is perhaps to be considered the flagship shoe in the Northwave range. The sole on this shoe is made from carbon fibre and Northwave say it has a stiffness rating of 10 on their scale, which extends to 15. To be honest, we’re not entirely sure what this means but the shoe felt solid and we liked how it felt.

Keeping feet dry and warm is important in any winter shoe and this Northwave Extreme shoe achieves this with a combination of Gore-Tex foot insoles and Gore-Tex Sierra membrane. The ankle cuff is made from neoprene, helping to keep feet dry as well as warm. There are handy loops to assist putting the boot on but there isn’t anything Northwave can add to help with removing any of their winter shoes, it’s simply a case of gentle pull and twist.

Northwave themselves rate this as strong for power transfer and thermo resistance, plus full marks for windproof and water resistance, none of which we’d disagree with. This is an excellent shoe, delivering all the essential aspects of a winter boot and is very comfortable to wear, even after several hours in very cold temperatures.

Northwave EXTREME RR Winter Road Bike Cycling Boot 2 GTX Reflective Size 41-46 43
  • Material: outer material: textile, other material, lining and insole: textile, outsole: other material.
  • Parts of animal origin: no.

Northwave Celsius R GTX Road Cycling Winter Shoes Review

There are two versions of the Celsius R road cycling shoe, Celsius R Arctic GTX and Celsius R GTX, both of which are excellent choices. Both shoes have a rigidity rating of 8, which is slightly less rigid than the Extreme R shoe, which has a rating of 10. Less rigid shoes are not worse, they’re simply less rigid and as such have a little extra flexibity, meaning they are more comfortable for cyclists not performing at pro level everyday, ie. most of us. The NRG Air Carbon Reinforced sole is excellent, and we found this to be a good option for several of us on review.

The Celsius R shoes are made from Pique Gore-Tex membranes which help to keep feet warm and insulated during cold winter months. The thermo resistance, water resistance and wind resistance are all comparable to the Extreme R shoe, making the only noticeable difference between these two shoes, the stiffness rating. Both are extremely comfortable boots and we’d have been happy owning either of them.

Northwave Raptor GTX Winter Shoes Review

The Northwave Raptor GTX looks great, as do most winter cycling shoes straight out of the box, but these shoes are designed to keep you cycling even in the coldest of winter road conditions. The high neoprene ankle cuff stops most of the rain but nothing is completely waterproof that requires entry and exit for toes, arms, fingers etc. However, these Raptor GTX shoes have a waterproof Gore-Tex Pique membrane, a GTX sole and an elastic membrane on the cuff called Gore-Tex Rattler that’s incorporated into the neoprene to breathe and keep your ankles warm, even when wet, and thus significantly helping to keep feet warm. I can vouch for this personally, after many hours cycling in wet weather.

Like all of the Northwave range, getting these boots on and off takes a little getting used to, nothing difficult, just different. Once acquainted with this style of footwear, slipping your foot into the shoe becomes quick and easy. Once inside, simply twist the dial until the wire tensions and your foot feels comfortable and secure. Over-tightening isn’t an issue as the quick release button allows for micro adjustments. Once you’re on the bike and pedalling, you can make additional adjustments for exact fitting and comfort.

The reflective flashes on the edge of the boots is a nice touch, especially for low-light conditions. However, for maximum visibility precautions, go for the bright yellow high visibility colour variant, hi-vis at its absolute best.

Northwave Raptor GTX Shoes Men Yellow Fluo/Black Shoe Size EU 41 2019 Bike Shoes
  • NORTHWAVE RAPTOR GTX road bike winter shoes YELLOW FLUO/BLACK
Northwave Raptor GTX Shoes Men Reflective/Orange Lobster Shoe Size EU 42 2019 Bike Shoes
  • NORTHWAVE RAPTOR GTX Road Bike Winter Shoes REFLECTIVE / ORANGE LOBSTER

Northwave Flash Arctic GTX Winter Road Shoes Review

As with the Celsius and Raptor, the Northwave Flash GTX and Flash Arctic, winter cycling shoes feature a NRG Air Carbon Reinforced sole, with a stiffness rating of 8, making the Extreme R the only shoe with a rating different to this.

The Flash Arctic GTX winter boots feature a waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex Koala membrane as well as having additional protection on the toes and around the ankle cuff, all of which help to keep out the rain and cold, leaving toes and feet warm and dry. Northwave claim the Flash GTX shoes can be comfortably worn in temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees but I think I’ll take their word for it.

So if you’re like me and don’t want anything getting in your way of cycling through the winter months, hesitate no longer and get yourself a pair of Northwave winter shoes, you won’t regret it.

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