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Northwave's Sonic SRS shoes sit somewhere in the middle of their range yet look as stylish and eye-catching as the top end race models.
Built around the NRG Air sole the Sonics have a decent level of stiffness thanks to the nylon, fiberglass and carbon mix. There is a decent sized platform to allow the fitting of any three hole point cleats plus slots for SPDs. A thicker ribbed section runs from here to the heel acting as what looks like a form of torsion bar to stop the sole from twisting under load.
All of Northwave's road shoe range uses the 'AirFlow ventilation system' which is a collection of vents designed to take cool air in through the front, run it under the foot before expelling the warm air out of the rear in a bid to keep the sole of your feet cool. Obviously this was a bit difficult to test in a wet January but on a good note the vents are positioned far enough away from the cleat that overshoes will stop water from entering.
The heel and toe bumpers are non-replaceable but they're plenty deep enough to last a good few years of short walking distance.
The upper is made from polyurethane with mesh panels thermo-welded to it. This means the whole upper feels as though it's a one piece construction with no seams to cause any discomfort. There is a reinforced toe box stitched to the front for shrugging off scuffs and scrapes.
Northwave's closure buckle is called SRS which stands for Slim Ratchet System and it is rather small compared to a lot of other manufacturers' ratchets. That's most noticeable when you're trying to stretch tight overshoes around them. It's your usual pull the tab up to tighten the ratchet to tighten and flick a button to slacken. It's very smooth to use and tiny adjustments can be made while you ride. The straps are also asymmetric with the middle one positioned more over the centre of your foot to reduce pressure on the side of your foot.
In use the Sonics are very comfortable. The insole has enough padding without being too squidgy compromising power output while the straps and buckle keep your foot in place without any pressure points at all.
The sole is stiff enough up to a point. Sprint or climb out of the saddle and you'll feel a small amount of flex around the cleat area though prolonged efforts like time trialling will result in hot spots on the sole of your foot. For general fitness or recreational riding though the Sonics are perfectly up to the job and the lack of rigidity compared to a carbon fibre sole is a bonus to those after comfort over power output.
The upper seems pretty robust after a good month of abuse with plenty of soakings and they don't show any serious scuffs or marks. We've got the red/white version but they also come in white/fluoro green, fluoro yellow/black (my personal faves) and black/white.
The size marking is a bit unusual. I'm a UK 10 and I normally wear a Euro 45 (Giro, Bontrager, DHB, Fizik, Lake all fit spot on). The Sonics are a 45 but are marked up as UK 11. According to http://www.shoesizes.co/, 45 is actually a 10.5, so rounding up to 11 isn't wrong, but it's unusual. They are spot on to what I would usually wear so either try before you buy, or buy your Euro size not your UK size. While we're on the subject of sizes the Sonics come in quite an impressive range. Starting at Euro 34 all the way up to 50 with half sizes available from 39.5 to 45.5.
Overall the Sonic SRSs are a decent entry level shoe ideal for club or fitness riding, anything where you aren't stamping on the pedals really. The comfort is good, making them an ideal choice for long hours in the saddle. One hundred quid is quite top end for a nylon soled shoe but they do have enough technology to just about warrant it with the neat ratchet and the smart looks.
The quality is worthy of the price, the Sonics have a nice finish and show impressive signs of durability. Shop around and you should easily find at least a 10% discount on that rrp.
Comfortable shoes for the fitness rider; not cheap but just get away with it due to Italian styling and good build quality.
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Make and model: Northwave Sonic SRS shoes
Size tested: EU 11, White/Red
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?
What Northwave say:
"Perfect for the enthusiast, the Sonic is packed with professional technology to give you that extra edge"
I think that's pretty much spot on. The recreational, fitness rider will get a lot from them without sacrificing comfort in the name of overall stiffness.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
39 - 48 - HALF SIZES: 39,5 - 45,5
BLACK-WHITE (SIZE 36-50)
SOLE: NRG Air Carbon reinforced
UPPER: Ultralight PU
UPPER CONTRUCTION: Multilayer Thermowelded + Airflow System
CLOSING SYSTEM: S.R.S. + Asymmetrical straps
HEEL: Integrated Heel System
FOOTBED: Performance Advanced
TECH: SPD pedals compatible
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty good, the sole wasn't stiff enough for my style of riding (lots of sprinting & acceleration) but once you take things a little more sedately they are very comfortable and provide a decent ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and the comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The sole was a touch flexy.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 35 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Whatever needs testing or Genesis Flyer, fixed of course! My best bike is: Kinesis T2 with full Centaur Red
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!