The new Northwave Galaxy shoes are a very comfortable high-end option, and they're easy to adjust on the fly .
What makes them comfortable? Well, for a start there's what Northwave call the Adaptafit design. Rather than a tongue, you get what's effectively a mesh sock inside that runs the complete width of the shoe, so there are no ridges to cause any pressure points. There's plenty of padding around the ankle and heel too, as well as underneath the closure arrangement.
The upper is made from thin, lightweight microfibre with big mesh panels to provide loads of ventilation, especially in the forefoot. They're very effective at keeping your feet cool and they don't add any stretch to the uppers. There are a couple of vents in the sole too, so if you tend to get hot feet on summer rides, it's worth checking these shoes out.
Two Velcro straps and a dial take care of closure. The higher Velcro strap is offset to the outside of the shoe 'to follow the anatomy of the foot and reduce the pressure on the side area, because it's particularly sensitive'. I can't say that I noticed any difference from the norm here, the straps doing their job just fine, although I found both a little longer than they needed to be and would possibly cut them down.
The top strap uses Northwave's new SLW2 closure system, an evolution of the original SLW (Speed Lace Winch) design, you won't be surprised to learn. The dial is now thinner and more lightweight than before with a soft, grippy material around the edge, and the cable is thinner too. Tightening is simply a matter of turning the clicky dial while you have two options when it comes to loosening: either press the side button for micro-adjustment, or lift that side button and pull on the cable to open the shoe completely.
The microfibre section of the top strap is really just a cushioning channel for the cable to run through. It always stays central because it's attached to the middle of that 'mesh sock'. I found that you have to be careful when tightening the cable if you want the strap to sit completely flat, but it's a good system that's easy to finetune one handed from the saddle.
A solid heel counter holds the back of your foot in place securely while a cat's tongue fabric inside helps avoid heel lift. I found everything very stable back there. There's a reflective logo on the heel that's hardly noticeable in daylight, but it shines out brightly in car headlights.
The carbon-fibre sole is fairly low profile and very stiff –which is the case with most higher end shoes these days. I couldn't discern any flex or twist at all even when doing my best power moves! Bumpers front and rear protect the sole and add some grip although only the rear one is replaceable. As mentioned, little mesh vents in the midfoot add some cooling. The sole is moulded for three-bolt cleats and you can use Northwave's adapter system if you want to run Speedplays.
I found the Galaxy shoes to be true to size although with a little more room in the fairly round toebox than many rivals. If you need a bit of extra width across the forefoot and toes, these might be worth a go.
At 697g the pair (in a size 46), these are lightweight rather than superlight. If you want to save the grams, Northwave's Extreme Tech shoes are considerably lighter.
In terms of price, £200+ is clearly a lot to spend on bike shoes, but this is about the going rate for something of this level, made from materials of this quality, and with this level of comfort. Shop around and you can find them for less than list price, but that goes for other high end shoes too.
Airy, stiff-soled and very comfy shoes that are easy to adjust on the fly
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Galaxy road shoes
Size tested: 2 sent - size 45 and 46
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Northwave list these features:
SOLE: 3 Layers Full Carbon
UPPER: Biomap in microfiber
UPPER CONSTRUCTION: Multilayer Thermowelded construction + Adaptafit
CLOSING SYSTEM: SLW2 + Asymmetrical straps
HEEL: Integrated Heel System
FOOTBED: Performance Pro
That weight is for each shoe, giving a total of 590g. They don't say what size shoe that relates to. Our pair of size 46 weighed 697g.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Northwave give loads of info on all of the above features on their website.
This is what they say about the SLW2 closure system:
"The micrometric system S.L.W. 2 (Speed Lace Winch) represents the evolution of the closure system. Maximum precision and modularity. The innovative step by step closure means you can tighten and enlarge the fit in a few moments.
"The side button provides a dual function: by pressing, it features a micrometric release and lifting it allows a complete and immediate opening of the shoe. More lightweight and thinner. The dial has been completely redesigned in size and weight, resulting in being significantly lighter and thinner. The external covering in soft touch material also makes the grip more effective.
"The ergonomic shape of the S.L.W. 2 ratchet follows the anatomy of the foot to make it really comfortable. The S.L.W. 2 ratchet is easily replaceable. The cables come from the best technology derived from the world of sailing."
They're well made.
Despite being thin and supple, that micro fibre fabric is tough and it's easy to wipe clean.
Lightweight, but not superlight. Northwave have concentrated more on comfort here.
With few ridges on the inside and plenty of venting, these are a comfy option for summer conditions.
£200+ is a lot to spend on bike shoes but ever more now fall into that category. Considering the materials used, the price is about right.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're stiff soled and very comfy, especially if you need a bit of extra width up front.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The stiff soles and the ventilation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I had to be careful tightening the SLW2 system in order to get the strap to sit flat.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I wouldn't discount them.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
How did I arrive at the mark for these? Well 8 = Very good and they pretty much hit the bullseye in that respect
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.