To be honest, my knees are not a fan of me wearing road shoes or road pedals when I go riding. Their pink scars tell the story of just one or two falls that were worthy of the best ‘funniest home videos’. So you can imagine the fear as my knees froze into submission when I mentioned that Northwave had asked me to review their Starlight SRS women’s road shoe.
I’ve been using Shimano Click’R pedals combined with MTB shoes for a while now, even on the road bike. You see, as a coach I tend to get on and off the bike many times during teaching sessions and I found my knees and ankles were ending up very sore at the end of the day. So I switched to the very easy to use Click’R pedal a while back, just to be a little kinder to the joints.
But there was one thing missing – transfer of power. The Click’R is a fabulous pedal for those wanting to get in and out of the pedal easily, but they do necessitate wearing SPD cleats on the shoes, which usually means a softer MTB shoe or spin shoe. With the softer formed sole of the shoe you just don’t get that transfer of power that a stiff, reinforced road shoe gives. The bonus is, they are easier to walk around in when you’re off the bike, and I need to be able to walk around in lessons.
So, with the road pedals back on the bike I clicked into the Starlight SRS for a few solo rides to check them out. After having become so familiar with the MTB shoes, it was seriously love at first pedal in the Starlights! I suddenly remembered what it was like to get that full transfer of energy from leg, to foot, to pedal to bike…speed! The difference was really quite extraordinary: the take off was so much faster (and easier) with the more solid, carbon reinforced sole of the shoe, plus the slimline ratchet system combined with the Velcro closures meant my foot felt really solidly, but comfortably strapped in position…unlike in my tired and sloppy MTB shoes which I have punished!
After the first ride I was hooked…I just had to keep getting out there and feel the comfort of having a stiff base on the foot! I already own a pair of road shoes with a plastic sole, plastic ratchet system and a lot less ventilation. They’re okay, but I’ve never really felt very comfortable in them…and i hit the deck in them every time I wear them because they are SO slippery. There is no question that the Starlight SRS are just a whole lot more serious on so many levels: metal ratchet clips with a tiny slim ratchet strap, and sensibly placed Velcro closures.
The ventilation I guess was the only downside, but that’s because I tested them in winter. Even with the shoe covers Northwave supplied with the shoes, I still felt a little cold. Mainly because the ventilation through the bottom of the foot is so good, I constantly had a cold draft entering the shoes: these would be a brilliant shoe in summer!
But on the plus side, unlike the plastic soled road shoes I already own, I didn’t feel like I would end up on my arse every time I got off the bike when wearing the Starlights. They have a little plastic ‘grippy bit’ (yes…technical description) stuck on the back of the heel to give just a little more stability off the bike, and there is another one under the toe as well to protect from wear and tear. The other part I loved about these was the really snug fit around my heel. It felt like the heel area was just so perfectly moulded to my foot it was like a custom shoe. Northwave use a ‘unibody’ construction which means they can get a firmer, closer fit around the heel without using too many extra pieces to construct the shoe shape.
The inside of the shoe felt good too – a nice soft inner and removable foot bed means that they can be taken out to air if you need to.
But what about the colour…well, what can I say. I LOVE them – pink and a hint of fluro green. These are just the coolest looking women’s road shoe I’ve seen for a while and when I spotted them last year at the Ausbike Expo, I was in love! I hadn’t seen a range of women’s cycling shoes that had taken this much care with the looks across the whole range, ever! The colours are great, the combo of fabrics and decals looks smart, feminine and ‘serious’.
These are by no means the top of the line in road shoes, retailing at around $150 – they make a great middle of the road shoe, not too technical, but serious enough to thrash it out on the hills or the long flats without causing any strain in the legs, or the budget.
Would I recommend them…yep! Despite being a little bit on the drafty side, I’ll be continuing to wear these hesitantly. Why? They are just SO damn pretty I don’t want to get them dirty or ruin them…they are definitely not going out in the rain!! Road shoes are tough to walk around in, but as a shoe for the open road, these would be my choice for sure…they match my bike and they match my clothes! What more does a women need.
And a PS. Northwave also sent me some socks to wear with the shoes…I dunno what it is about those socks or why they are different to other cycling socks I own, but they are seriously the best things EVER! I wear them on the bike, off the bike and slouching around the house! They feel really cosy and comfy and my feet don’t sweat in them…for some reason my feet just like them!