Andi slips on a pair of the new Northwave Clan flat shoes featuring a tread and rubber collab from the rubber wizards at Michelin.
We first spotted the Northwave Clan shoe way back at Eurobike in 2018. There the shoe was shown alongside the Northwave Tribe, to make up the Northwave flat shoe lineup covering 2 price points. Of the two, the Clan is the more expensive and offers features unique to it including a custom designed sole developed with help from Michelin.
Looking at the official Northwave website, it’s clear that the Clan is designed to offer ultimate flat pedal grip, and unlike shoes from the likes of Five Ten, the Clan looks more like a motorsport shoe, especially with that highly visible Michelin logo. It’s clearly a less bulky shoe to that Impact Pro I reviewed recently, and that lack of bulk and more tailored design are what makes this shoe stand out, well that and the grip.
Northwave Clan Design
Let’s start with that co-developed sole. Northwave has worked closely with Michelin to create an exclusive Flat Specific Sole System, that is only available on the Clan shoe. The system was designed in order to give riders the type of grip and control on the bike usually only found on an SPD/clipped in pedal system.
The Flat Specific Sole system is made up of 3 parts. Internally there’s a lightweight and shock-absorbing EVA midsole. Beneath that sits a TPU shank engineered for stiffness and ensuring increased support, and control. While stiff, the shank features cutouts and horizontal openings so that the foot can still flex naturally both on and off the bike. It’s a tough balancing act, but from my time wearing the Northwave Clan I feel that the balance has been achieved.
The third and final part of the Flat Specific Sole System is sole featuring the MICHELIN-NW compound tread design and manufactured from a sticky compound called Gecko+. Gecko+ took 2 years of research and development to come up with and Michelin/Northwave are pretty confident it’s the stickiest compound on the market.
Mentioned above is the compound tread using a delta design. The middle area of the sole, where your pedal should be, is very flat with narrow groves made into the surface for pins to nestle and hold in.
The tread shape remains triangular at the toe and heel, but there’s a much deeper tread pattern available here for digging into the ground when climbing or descending off the bike, but even with the deeper tread I would expect most riders to choose the Northwave Clan as a dry weather/Summer riding shoe.
Other qualities that make the Clan more suitable to warmer climates are the large breathable mesh inserts and mesh tongue that aid comfort and airflow when the mercury begins to rise.
The tread design wraps around the sides of the shoe to meet black abrasion resistant panels around the toe box and heel. These
patches are welded to the upper to ensure long life and add just enough impact protection to keep your tootsies safe and sound. Mesh panels and synthetic leather makes up the rest of the Clan’s upper, all double stitched and welded for added longevity.
Ensuring the Northwave Clan remains on your foot is a simple set of laces. Excess lace and loops can be kept in check with an elastic hoop attached to the padded tongue.
Northwave Clan Performance
As soon as the Clan hit my Burgtec pedals I knew I was going to be in safe hands. I recently tested the Pace RC529 hardtail and you’ll see in that review that I wore the Northwave Clan and never once lost my footing or was bounced off the pedal, impressive since I managed to really haul that bike through some nasty, rock-strewn terrain.
The Northwave Clan is an F1 car in comparison.
Oh and that level of control that Michelin and Northwave talks about? Well, it’s not marketing hype, it really is there. I feel more in touch with what the bike is doing and where it’s going. I’m Scandi-flicking through corners without even thinking about it because I can now guide my bike around with more precision and trust I’m not going to get flicked off.
But hold on, didn’t I test the Five Ten Impact Pro recently and say how good they are? Yes, I did, but that was before I’d tried the Clan. If both shoes were cars, the Five Ten would be an old U.S muscle car, plenty of grunt for top end speed but not so great in the bends. The Northwave Clan is an F1 car in comparison.
Northwave Clan Durability
As we’ve been blessed with pretty decent weather the Northwave Clan hasn’t actually seen rain or mud yet, and in all honesty, they likely won’t because that’s not the environment they’re designed for.
On our dusty trails, the Clan has lasted well with just a few cosmetic scuffs and marks from rock and root strikes. The sole is showing damage where the pins of my Burgtec Penthouse pedals have sat, but it is mostly surface damage and I don’t see many deep gashes or gaps in the tread.
One piece of damage I have noticed is wear on the inner edge of the shoe close to the heel. This is where the Clan has rubbed against the wider than average rear end of the Commencal Meta AM 29er that I am testing. I’ve noticed similar marks on my Five Ten from the same bike too.
Northwave Clan flat shoe overall
Is Gecko+ stickier than Five Tens Stealth rubber? It’s a close call, but it certainly not worse in any way. What is noticeably better is the added control you feel you have over your footing and bike position with the Clan on. The fit is more tailored than the bulkier Five Ten, and the added support from that stiff sole gives you a level of connectivity normally associated with an SPD set up, just as Northwave had hoped for.
For every ride that I’m not required to test a new shoe, I’ll reach for the Northwave Clan and I have a feeling that’s not going to change until winter sets back in.
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 2 months|