Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

Northwave Revolution 2

Who thought matte finish cycling shoes were a good idea?

I have used Northwave shoes for many years. A couple of years ago they rolled out a new sole plate that wraps further up the sides of the shoe; in both the all-carbon top-of-the-line shoes and the partially-carbon mid-line shoes. The idea is greater stiffness from the no-longer-flat sole plate.
I wanted some new commuting shoes. Usually I deprecate the old race shoes to the commuting duty at the same time as I introduce a brand new shoe to racing duty and retire the old commuting shoe. In this case, there was zero wrong with the racing shoes (not a lot of that going on lately!) but I wanted a new commuter shoe.
Revolution 2 in silver is a reflective finish grey shoe with virtually zero graphics on it - it is simply a slightly reflective material with this matte finish. The texture of the matte holds dirt like crazy. So every time I ride in the rain, I need to scrub the shoe to try to clean it, and it doesn't work so it gets slightly more grubby with each wet ride. The reflectivity is disappointing as well. My current race shoes are reflective camo print. Only portions of the pattern are reflective, but they are intensely reflective. Almost painfully so if you look at your feet in the dark when a car headlamp catches part of the shoe pointed at your eyes. The Revolution however, is dimly reflective. Maybe it's the matte finish? Not likely - it just isn't as shiny as other Northwave shoes have been.
The partial-carbon sole is really a misnomer. Actually I'd call it a lie. The sole is nylon like a cheap shoe, with a flat-ish disc of carbon where the cleat attaches. Even with the 3D shape, it is not stiff like the full carbon sole on my older Northwave shoes. And it has this odd squishy feeling like it has a thick and soft insole in it that compresses with each pedal stroke, except it has my custom orthotics inside and they are solid. The squish feeling comes from the shoe, somehow.
Being nylon, they get more flexible with age. I don't know that I've noticed it over the approximately two years I have been commuting in them, but I always notice how much less stiff they are than the shoes I race in when I wear them back-to-back.
I have a high instep. That gives me a large foot volume and makes shoes like Sidi a no-go option for my feet (even the Mega series shoes don't quite fit). In Shimano I get the best fit from the wide fit option shoes. But going back to the 90s, Northwave has fit me well. The Revolution is a little low in volume for my foot and I'm at the limit of comfort.
The final unwelcome aspect of these shoes was the fact that all the bolts (like BOA, but Northwaves on SLW adjusters) that hold the dial adjusters onto the shoe were loose out of the box. They didn't seem to be any Allen key size I own. Not 1.0mm. Not 1.5mm. Finally I was able to jam a very tiny Torx driver in there and tighten them sufficiently that they haven't come loose again. I contacted Northwave Australia and they couldn't tell me what size they were - only that replacement dials came with the tool.
The new version, the
Revolution 3, differs only in that it has the new version of the SLW on the shoe. The same matte grey reflective shoe is available. I won't be buying these. In fact, even though they are not worn out yet, I want to chuck these away and start using my race shoes to commute (I found a new-old-stock pair of the same shoes in a different colourway so I have a new pair to race in when I choose to introduce them to the shoe line-up in my closet).
For a $300 shoe (3/5 the price of the pro model), I don't think a plastic sole with a disc of carbon in the middle and faux reflectivity is good enough. Stiffness index is 12 where the pro is 14, but it feels more like a 7; literally about half as stiff.
If, however, you are lighter than me, have a lower volume foot than me and generally place fewer demands on your cycling shoes than me; this could be a great shoe for you. The dual dials give precise tightening during use and I prefer the SLW to BOA that I have used on other shoes. The build quality on the shoe is excellent. They appear as though they will last well beyond 2 years of daily use. They don't hold a lot of water on wet days, though they can be slow to dry out after.