The Northwave Sonic 2 SRS is a good mid-level choice for road riding that allows you to fit either three-bolt or two-bolt cleats.
What Northwave calls its NRG Air Carbon Reinforced soles are reasonably stiff, made from 'a new blend of nylon reinforced with fibreglass and enriched with carbon'. You can detect a little flex during flat-out sprinting and out-of-the-saddle climbing but not while you're seated.
The sole features five gauze-covered vents that are positioned under the toes, in the mid foot and at the heel, and you can definitely feel the cooling effect on your feet as you ride.
The Sonic 2 shoes take standard three-bolt cleats (Look, Time, SPD-SL etc) but the soles are moulded to take two-bolt cleats (SPD etc) too. Understandably, the two-bolt cleat plates aren't included because most people want to use three-bolt cleats, but you can fit them if you like. Obviously, the cleat won't be recessed like it is on a mountain bike shoe, but the heel and toe grips will provide some purchase when you walk. You wouldn't want to walk far, but if you prefer SPD pedals for any reason, this would make a good shoe choice.
The upper is made from a light microfibre material with large mesh inserts thermowelded in all areas of the foot. These mesh panels let loads of cool air in and humid air out. Combined with those sole vents I mentioned, the construction of the upper means it's very unlikely that your feet will overheat in these.
You get a three-strap closure here. The lower two are Velcro and the upper strap uses Northwave's SRS design. SRS stands for Slim Ratchet System and that pretty much sums it up. You flick an aluminium lever to ratchet the strap in, you push a button to let it out. It's simple to use and micro adjustments while you're riding could hardly be easier.
The broad section of that top strap is Velcro backed so you can shorten it if you have narrow feet, or let it out if your feet are particularly broad. Along with the flexibility of the uppers, this means the Sonic 2s are suitable for quite a range of different foot shapes.
The middle strap is positioned over the central line of your foot, Northwave claiming that this reduces the pressure on the side area. Maybe it does. I certainly didn't feel any particular pressure anywhere so the positioning isn't doing any harm.
An internal heel cup helps keep everything firm back there. There's no clever fabric inside to hold your foot in place but I didn't experience any heel lift at all. I think that's as much to do with the fit as anything. If you get a good fit, everything tends to stay where it should.
All in all, these shoes put in a solid performance. They're comfortable and highly breathable, the one shortfall being that the soles aren't quite as stiff as those you can get if you pay the extra for carbon fibre, but that's only really an issue when you're stomping hard out of the saddle. They're well made too and look more high-end than they actually are.
Good road shoes that offer plenty of comfort and excellent breathability
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Sonic 2 SRS
Size tested: 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?
These are road shoes that'll take either three-bolt or (if you fit the cleat plate) two-bolt cleats.
Northwave says: "NRG Air provides increased stiffness thanks to the new blend of nylon reinforced with fiberglass and enriched with carbon. As with the whole road soles collection, it features the AirFlow ventilation system. Vents favour an optimal air flow in and out. Compatible with SPD pedals."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Northwave lists these features:
* NRG Air Carbon Reinforced sole combines great stiffness with 5 vents for perfect airflow
* SPD pedals compatible. Cleat plate not included
* Thermowelded Layer Construction combines multiple layers without overlaps reducing weight
* SRS micrometric buckle with ultra-thin profile and ergonomically shaped combined with 2
* Integrated heel system provides efficient retention
* Weight: 283 g
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
These aren't quite as easy to keep clean as some smooth surfaced shoes, but it takes very little time with a damp cloth to get them looking good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well. I'd have preferred a stiffer sole, I must say, but that's the only real negative here.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
You get plenty of breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I prefer a stiffer sole.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not for me, simply because of the sole flex.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are good shoes. They don't offer the performance of top end shoes, notably in terms of sole stiffness, but you wouldn't expect that; £100 is a lot of money but it's not going to get you everything. For the price, these put in a solid performance and, to my mind, have the looks of more pricey options.
About the tester
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.