The Flash TH is built like a standard cycling shoe but with watertight uppers and plenty of insulation built in
Cycling footwear for winter conditions is a bit tricky, but the Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes provide a good option for cold, dry conditions.
The standard option for winter riding is a pair of summer shoes with an overshoe. This gives protection from cold and wet, but overshoes are fragile, wear quickly and are not cheap. Often the bases or the zips give up, so it’s unusual to get more than a couple of seasons’ use from a pair.
Another choice is winter boots with an ankle cuff. They are more robust than overshoes. But we’ve tested quite a few different makes here at Cycling Weekly and struggled to find a pair which were comfortable and fitted well.
The Northwave Flash TH is some £70 cheaper than Northwave’s equivalent Flash Arctic GTX winter boot (which we’ll be testing in the next few weeks).
So the Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes offer an interesting third option. Built like a normal three bolt cycling shoe, their uppers are completely enclosed and they are lined with a quilted layer of Thinsulate insulation. There’s extra insulation in the toe area.
The uppers of the Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes are also waterproof and breathable, so they shrug off surface spray. They have a wrap-over design which also helps keep out wet and a reinforced, anti-abrasion toe. Northwave includes reflective elements in the rear and sides of the shoe to improve visibility.
The Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes are closed with one of Northwave’s SLW2 dials. I didn’t find it quite as intuitive as Boa’s best dials and it was slightly tricky to turn when wearing thick winter gloves, but coupled with the zig-zag nylon cable it does allow you to adjust the shoe’s upper for a comfortable fit. You can also loosen the upper one click at a time and it’s easy to unlock the dial to quickly fully open the upper once you get home.
The Northwave Flash TH shoes feel a bit short and narrow for their size, particularly if you want to wear thicker winter socks. There’s actually enough insulation in the upper that I could use a standard, thin cycling sock in typical UK winter conditions without feeling cold, but I sized up to get a good fit. It isn’t a bad idea to give your feet a bit more room in cold conditions anyway, so that your toes can move around and keep warmer.
The Northwave Flash TH is available in sizes between 34 and 50, with half sizes between 39.5 and 45.5, so there are plenty of fit options. Sensibly for a shoe likely to see dirt, the Northwave Flash TH comes in black only.
The brand quotes a stiffness of 8 for the Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes’ soles. That’s less than a summer race shoe – Northwave rates its Extreme RR shoe at 15 – but even so there’s minimal flex. The Arctic GTX sole is made of carbon-reinforced plastic. Northwave says that it has four layers with a built-in membrane, insulation and a thick insole. There are ventilation holes built in, covered with aluminium mesh, to ensure air circulation.
The cleat is fixed with three non-sliding bolts. These don’t allow you quite as much adjustment of cleat position as most summer shoes, so I found that the cleat was a bit further back than I would normally have it, even when pushed as far forward as possible.
Pedalling efficiency feels good and the uppers of the Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes are fit comfortably. There’s no tendency to heel-lift due to a grippy lining to the heel cup. You get a pedalling feel much like a summer shoe, but the warmth is more than adequate for use through the majority of the UK winter.
The Northwave Flash TH cycling shoes will take you through the majority of your winter rides in comfort. They feel like a normal road shoe, are well insulated and have a reasonably stiff sole. They cope well with damp road conditions, but adjustment is a bit harder than with a Boa dial.