The Northwave Clan Flat Pedal MTB Shoes are Sticky and Secure

Photos: Matt Miller

On benefit to the growth of mountain biking as a sport is that there are more options in every department. There are more trails, more bikes, more bike brands, more people to ride with, and more choices everywhere.

Flat pedal shoes are an obvious segment where having more choices around is an advantage. Shoe brands like Afton, Ride Concepts, Pearl iZUMi, and Giro have made the market stronger than ever in the past couple of years. Now, Northwave brings in the Clan as a serious contender.

Specs

  • Flat pedal MTB shoe
  • Michelin NW compound tread
  • EVA Midsole for shock absorption
  • Abrasion resistant welded upper
  • 860g per pair (size 41)
  • MSRP: $150 (compare styles and prices)

Performance

The Clan starts with an abrasion-resistant upper and a helping of breathable mesh. The mesh extends down to a padded tongue for more breathability, and feet stay pretty fresh after long rides.

I usually ride clipless pedals, so it took some re-learning to get used to wearing flats. Although I started mountain biking wearing flat pedals, after wearing clipless for so long, I really had to be conscious about my foot placement. This was certainly my problem, rather than the Northwaves, but I was thankful to have the stiff, TPU-reinforced toe box (thermoplastic polyurethane) since my toes roamed into some big rocks a few times. An EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) midsole also helps cushion hard foot placements.

The sole itself is made of a compound developed by Michelin and Northwave. The tread protrudes around the toes and heel for better traction when hike-a-biking, but it is smooth with very small grooves on the mid-foot.

What became apparent while testing the Northwaves is how important a good compound is on the bottom of a shoe, rather than the pattern of the sole. It’s hard to tell where the pins actually stick into other than the rubber itself, but once the rider’s weight is on the shoes and the shoes are on the pedals, it’s difficult to move them.

The Clans also have a stiffer-than-expected shank, which brings out a more efficient pedaling stroke. They aren’t as stiff as most clipless shoes, but I think the Clan benefits from the rigidity, and it is still comfortable to wear off the bike.

Final word

For a flat pedal mountain bike shoe, the Clans hit every mark I can think of. They’re not too heavy at 860g for the pair, about a pound per foot. With the tight lacing and reinforced toe, the Northwaves feel light and secure.

Lastly, I believe that the aesthetics are pretty dang nice, especially since it’s from a brand more known for their clipless XC shoes. I’ll be hanging on to these shoes for a while, for practicing skills, riding dirt jumps, or when I occasionally want to get back to my roots.

Thanks to Northwave for providing the shoes for review.

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