If you are close reader of this blog, you will have seen references to my winter riding shoes. This is akin to a grandmother pulling out the baby pictures at every excuse, except my winter riding shoes are neither precocious, darling or future disappointments. At least if their short life with me is an indication, they won't be a disappointment at all. Speaking of pulling out pictures, though . . .
|From Product Testing|
Aren't they adorable?
This is what my shoes looked like before the first ride. I would show you a picture of them now, but they are covered with mud, sweat and tears. I don't mean this metaphorically. I cried on them last week because our endless winter prevented me from going out to ride. That is not something of which you would want a picture. Speaking of pictures, here are some more pictures of my shoes.
|From Product Testing|
|From Product Testing|
Of course I'm proud of them. Just look at them. Yes, their my first.
Okay, enough of my granny imitation. Here is the low down on these shoes.
First, they retail for $179.99. I used to be a Sidi-only guy, so I had been looking at their winter shoe for about $400, so this seemed downright reasonable. The other upside is that I had been telling my wife for two years that I wanted a pair of winter shoes, so she was aware that I was preparing to drop four franklins on some secondary shoes. By picking up the Northwaves, I not only got the shoes I wanted, I looked like a sensible chap in my wife's eyes. No easy feat. For my feet. Anyway.
Second, these are strictly utilitarian shoes. They are not designed to replicate a racing shoe or anything like it. They are designed to be warm and water-proof. I picked the mountain-bike version since the little bit of traction on the shoes might be helpful for a time of year when snow and mud dominate the roads and the extra weight is meaningless. Also, I have mountain bike pedals on my winter/cyclo-cross/rain/commuter bike because I find walking around important and more frequent with all of these activities, so the pedal is compatible with my mountain bike so I can extend both of these riding seasons with this shoe.
A digression. Usually, I just digress and you, the kind reader, are taken along for a ride without forwarning or permission. In this case, I am clearly letting you know I am digressing, so if you dislike this non-linear progression or you are limited in time, skip to the next paragraph. On bikes: I have a reputation for having many, many bikes, but this is unfounded and besides I have good reasons for all of them. The sentence in the prior paragraph which describes one solitary bike as the one I use for winter riding, rainy weather riding, cyclo-cross racing (oh boy, there's a 60-minute plus one paragraph story waiting to be told) and commuting, should indicate to you that I am not overly biked. I do know people who have different bikes for some or all of these uses. To me, winter/rain/commuting all involved a stable and sturdy frame and wheels, a wider tire and room for small knobbies or even a studded tire, and fenders. Cyclo-cross racing, at MY level, involves crying and medical bills, but a sturdy mount, wider tires and canti-brakes are also nice. So, I take off the fenders and Bob's your uncle. How efficient of me. So that's enough smart-ass remarks about how many bikes I own.
The Northwave shoes have a simple internal fastening system with a single cord tightening the loops down the foot. Integral to the fit are also the two velcro straps. They are harder to see in the picture, but one covers the entire top of the foot and the other wraps around the lower ankle. The pull-string closure is not as solid feeling as I would like, but it certainly works and when combined with the large velcro areas, it is easy to get a secure fit. The ankle strap also would help limit the water down the leg issue I identified in a previous post. Any rain pant over the top of the shoe would also do the job.
The shoe is completely comfortable and adjustable. Unlike Mr. Millimeter, my feet are bigger than average but not too hard to fit, so I don't normally have shoe fit issues. For me, these were comfortable right away. The feeling of how loose or stiff this shoe feels is impacted quite a bit by the large straps, which really are a significant percentage of the shoe. So, they are also easy to adjust.
The biggest question for me ahead of my first ride was "How long until my toes are numb?" I didn't really expect that they would keep my toes from being numb, but I certainly expected a longer period of time than my shoe and neoprene booties combination had been giving me. I was therefore quite surprised to find that after my inaugural ride I made it through the entire ride without numb toes. That day was a bit warmer than than the rides just prior, so while I was pleased, I wasn't really sold on them yet. Now, however, I have taken a number of rides in these shoes ranging from soaking and miserable to cold and miserable. Throughout each of these rides, these shoes performed as well as I could have hoped. They kept my feet warm and, except for rain running down my leg for over an hour, dry.
I have an annoying but not otherwise problematic medical condition that causes what is basically an occasional overreaction to cold, wherein my fingers and toes become completely white from lack of blood flow. This is one of the reasons my wife was willing to let me strongly consider whatever winter shoes would help with the onset of this problem. While appreciating her understanding, I was hesitant to spend $400+ versus my occasional suffering, particularly when there were other cycling items on which I would prefer to spend the money. Having found a solution for under $200 (and this time of year most shops with inventory probably have them on sale), I can't believe I waited this long to get a pair.
Unlike Rider 1's forthcoming review of his D2 shoes, I am not going into details about weight, fastening, heel cups and stunning good looks. Instead, these Northwave Celsius GTX shoes are just solid workhorse shoes for anytime the weather is bad. They will keep your toes warm and dry, provide a secure and reasonably stiff (but not too stiff and adjustable by wrapping down the top tightly or not) and do all of it with a minimum of fuss and at a killer price. What more can you ask for in a winter shoe? Nothing of which I can think.