The Northwave Mistral shoe has been designed around getting as much air in as possible, favoured by athletes in summer stage races apparently, or for indoor training use. I don't actually find them any cooler than the huge number of other road shoes in my collection, but I'll give the Mistrals this, they are very comfortable and offer plenty of stiffness.
The Mistrals have a stiffness index of 12, which doesn't mean much on its own – many brands quote their own stiffness levels, but it is by no means an industry standard. To give it some context, Northwave's goes up to 15 – that's found on its top-end performance shoes like the Extreme Pro, and believe me it's stiff!
The Mistrals aren't as outright stiff, but they're hardly what you'd call flexible. Full-on efforts don't feel spongy, but they don't transfer road buzz like those Extreme Pros do. If you're not competing and going for the final sprint, the Mistrals won't let you down.
The sole is carbon fibre, and you get an insert (which is very thin) added to the cleat area to increase stiffness (and to look cool).
Speaking of cleats, the Mistrals have the usual three-bolt pattern for the majority of road cleats but also come with holes specific to Speedplay's four-bolt system. This does away with the need for the adaptor that would usually fit between the metal cleat and the sole, keeping your foot closer to the pedal and the stack height low.
There are plenty of markings for alignment too.
The synthetic upper is soft and moulds well to the foot. Laces on road shoes have been superseded by Velcro, ratchets and Boa-style systems, but still have their place. True, you can't tweak how tight they are as easily while riding, but they do give an even pressure, and I think they look cool too.
To stop them getting sucked into the chain or wrapped around the cranks, Northwave has included an elasticated strap on the tongue to keep them out of harm's way.
Ventilation is taken care of by the large hexagonal mesh section that runs from the front to the back of each shoe, and over the tongue. Over the test period I had a couple of rides where the thermometer was nudging the high teens, but most of the time it's been in the single figures. Wearing normal cycling socks, I could feel the cold air funnelling through – good for summer use, but for cooler times you'll definitely need to invest in some thicker socks or overshoes.
When it comes to sizing, these are an EUR 45 which Northwave has down as a UK 11. I'm a UK 10 in my normal everyday shoes and the various running shoes that I own. Like running shoes, cycling shoes don't need a whole lot of room for your foot to move around in, so I'd definitely say err on the slightly larger side if you are buying online.
The overall quality is good. The join between the sole and the upper is neat, although the solid layer of the upper is obviously laid over the mesh fabric and on this review pair there are a couple of little wrinkles and imperfections. I may be being a little harsh here, but this is a pair of shoes costing just under £150.
With an rrp of £144.99 they are a touch more pricey than the Rivelo Penbarras, but you are getting a carbon sole rather than the nylon of the Rivelos.
The Northwaves are also cheaper than the lace-up Rapha Classic shoes at £180.
If the white is a bit bling for you (they are really easy to wipe clean), the Mistrals are also available in a gloss black finish, and if you'd prefer a Boa-style system using Northwave's SLW2 dials rather than laces, you could go for the Mistral Plus for £179.99.
But if you're keen on lace-ups, the Mistral is a good stiff road shoe with a comfortable and supple upper that contours to the shape of your foot.
Well-vented summer road shoes with a good balance of stiffness and comfort – just check the sizing
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Mistral White Road Shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Northwave says, "This newcomer to the Northwave family is an absolutely new proposal in the road shoes scene. The Mistral is like a breath of fresh air on the hottest days. Favoured by athletes in summer stage races, it's the ideal choice for cyclists forced to endure hot asphalt over long distances. Furthermore, the Mistral is the most comfortable solution for indoor training or to challenge friends on virtual software.
"The Mistral is a classically styled lace up road race shoe with an exceptionally well ventilated hexagonal 3D mesh upper construction. The sole features carbon fibre for superior power transmission with a stiffness index of 12 for responsive pedaling. Speedplay specific cleat holes, alongside the typical 3-bolt pattern, offer super low stack height on Speedplay pedals."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
– Excellent thermoregulation of the foot thanks to the use of a 3D mesh with hexagonal cells
– Reticular structure that guarantees resistance and lightness
– Light and ventilated upper structure combining comfort and mechanical strength
– Sole with carbon toe insert with stiffness index 12
– Perforated sole to ensure the passage of air from the tip to the heel
– Lace closure
I'd say jump up half a size from your usual, maybe a whole size.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The surface wipes clean very easily.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
An all-round good road shoe that delivers on stiffness, comfort and breathability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A good balance of stiffness and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Just a little rough around the edges in places.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For a laced shoe that comes with a carbon fibre sole, they are competitively priced.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A very capable pair of shoes that are a pleasure to wear. The sole balances stiffness and comfort while the laces provide an even spread of tension, although they aren't as easy to tweak on the fly as a Boa dial or equivalent.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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!