Review: Northwave Clan Flat Pedal Shoes

When Italian company Northwave set out to develop a new flat pedal shoe, they knew they had to bring something really good to the table in order to get riders to consider stepping away from the more well-known options on the market.

By partnering with Michelin, Northwave believes they have the rubber compound – one of the most important parts of a flat pedal shoe – figured out. The Clan shoe is designed to be stiff but not overly clunky or difficult to move in, with ample padding and protection throughout.

The Clan is part of Northwave’s “Pro” line of shoes. It comes in black, blue, and orange colors and sells for $149.99 USD.

Northwave Clan Details
• Michelin rubber sole
• Internal adapted TPU shank
• Reinforced toe and heel
• Rubber sidewall arch support
• Tread on toe for walking traction
• Colors: black, blue, orange
• Weight: 484 grams per shoe, size 43
• $149.99 USD
• www.northwave.com

Michelin’s ‘Gravity Top’ flat sole system is designed to provide traction on the pedals, good grip when you’re on your feet, and plenty of support.
Reinforced toe and heel cups offer added support and, more importantly, protection.

Construction

The Clan is Northwave’s top of the line gravity flat pedal shoe. Northwave developed two different soles with Michelin, the “Gravity Top” used in the Clan and then the “Gravity” which is used for the more sport-level shoe, the Tribe. The Gravity Top sole has a few things that separate it from the lower-end Gravity sole, including its tread pattern, increased arch support, and EVA cushioning.

The tread compound on the shoe is inspired by Michelin’s Jet XCR tire. It’s made to offer a lot of traction on wet and slippery surfaces while still being durable enough to hold up to being repeatedly poked by pedal pins. The tread pattern on the toe and heel is designed to provide traction during hike-a-bike sections of a ride. In the middle of the shoe, where the shoes will sit on the pedals, there’s a smoother flat area with cuts and sipes for locking into the pins and keeping your feet securely in place.

There’s an internal shank that’s designed to keep the shoe stiff and firmly secured around the shape of the rider’s foot. Last but not least, an elastic lace trap is used to keep the shoelaces from becoming ensnared in your chain, or wrapped around a crankarm.

Reinforced toe and heel zones to abate the stray rock or other impacts.
Laces are kept neatly out of the way and retained by an easy-to-use elastic band on the tongue of the shoe.

Performance

Right out of the box, the Clan was noticeably well supported yet comfortable. My foot is a tad on the narrow side, and I found that I did have some extra room in the toe box, but I wasn’t slipping or sliding around in the shoe. The heel cup is stout and does an excellent job of keeping the foot supported, and there is ample arch support as well. The Clan laces up nicely and the laces stow out of the way with the elastic band. It also does a nice job of helping the shoes stay tied, something that can be a bit of an issue with lace-up shoes, especially if you’re riding jungly trails where branches tend to magically untie them.

On the pedals, the Clan is extremely grippy and offers all of the traction I could ask for, as much as any of the other leading shoes. Even with all that grip, I still found it especially easy to reposition it if my stance wasn’t exactly how I wanted. The middle of the sole being flatter and having more siping than raised tread helps with this. I had no trouble keeping my feet on the pedals when the terrain became rough, and the shoe doesn’t mute the feel of the pedals, something that’s crucial when riding on flats.

As far as walking around and traction off the bike is concerned, the Clan scores top marks for wet rocks and sketchy terrain. The shoe has traction enough for plenty of confidence in hike-a-bikes and isn’t so stiff that it’s not comfortable enough to hang out in post-ride.


Pros

+ Plenty of support for long rides
+ Comfortable & well constructed
+ Good traction on and off the bike

Cons

– May be a little roomy for riders with narrower feet.


Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.

Pinkbike’s Take

bigquotes There are a number of good options for a flat pedal shoe out there and the Clan is undoubtedly one of them. It offers plenty of traction on and off of the pedals, it has a supportive fit, and it has proven durable with use in some pretty poor conditions. For someone that’s looking for a well-engineered flat pedal shoe, the Clan is worth checking out.

 

[“source=pinkbike”]

Halston review – glitzy 70s designer all dressed up

Trendsetter … Halston with Liza Minnelli.

In the 70s, the American designer Halston was one of fashion’s biggest stars. But since his death from an Aids-related illness in 1990, his reputation has dimmed, despite attempts to revive his company (one of them involving Harvey Weinstein and Sarah Jessica Parker). Now comes this flattering, myth-inflating documentary by Frédéric Tcheng, who gives us the story of Roy Halston Frowick, a kid from Des Moines, Iowa, who reinvented himself in New York as a milliner to the super-rich and joined the big league by putting Jackie Kennedy in a pillbox hat at JFK’s inauguration. He became one-name famous by designing party dresses that one interviewee gigglingly describes as best worn without knickers.

This profile has a pretentious – and pointless – framing device in which fashion writer Tavi Gevinson plays a fictional archivist who turns detective to investigate his life. As well as understanding the fashion mood of the 70s, Halston savvily realised that dressing his beautiful celebrity pals Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston and Bianca Jagger was the best possible advertisement. He also increased diversity on the runway, promoting African American models, and his muse was Pat Ast, the frizzy-haired size-20 actor who had worked with Andy Warhol.

His secretary pinpoints the beginning of the end for Halston as the opening of the Studio 54 nightclub, where he picked up a $1,000-a-week cocaine habit. He spent money like crazy, once sending a private plane to fetch his dinner. Then there were the business decisions. In 1983, he signed a disastrous $1bn deal with the US high-street chain JC Penney – appalling his elite fanbase. By 1984, Halston lost the rights to his name and company.

The archive clips suggest Halston is a role Richard E Grant was born to play: the designer had a long-limbed loucheness, grandiose affectations and put-on accent, along with a fierce perfectionism.

[“source=theguardian”]

Aldous Harding: Designer review – cryptic charm and shimmering psychedelic pop

‘Captivating and indecipherable’ ... Aldous Harding.

Comebacks come no more enigmatic than The Barrel, the first single to be taken from Aldous Harding’s third album, and its accompanying video. It featured the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter performing stylised dance moves and giving knowing looks to camera while variously wearing a tall white hat, a white ruff and enormous platform boots; a grotesque blue mask and a T-shirt and white underpants accessorised with a pair of maracas. The lyrics were as puzzling as the video: “I know you have the dove, I’m not getting wet … show the ferret to the egg, I’m not getting led along.”

Aldous Harding: Designer album artwork
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 Aldous Harding: Designer album artwork

Perhaps understandably, what the whole thing was supposed to be about was the subject of considerable online debate. Depending on whose interpretation you plumped for, the video was either a homage to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal 1973 film The Holy Mountain, a nod to the national dress of Wales (where Designer was partly recorded and where Harding currently resides), analogous to the faintly disturbing vision of pregnancy found in Sylvia Plath’s 1960 poem Metaphors, inspired by postmodernist poet Susan Howe’s book Singularities, which surveys the 17th-century First Nation wars in New England, somehow related to menstruation or – a more cynical view – a canny artist doing a load of self-consciously weird stuff on screen with one eye on the end result being GIF-able and meme-worthy. Whatever it was, Harding wasn’t letting on: “I feel we’re expected to be able to explain ourselves after we’ve worked the space and have purpose, you know, in a little bag that you carry around everywhere,” she told NPR. “But I don’t necessarily have that in me.”

Long-term observers of Harding’s rise might note that this is all par for the course. After attracting attention for a pared-down, folky debut, things in Harding’s world got weird fast. On 2017’s Party, the lyrics became more oblique, her videos more inscrutable, her interviews more vague and her live performances more mannered and strange, as evidenced by the divisive explosion of bug-eyed gurning that accompanied her appearance on Later With Jools Holland. For everyone moved to purple prose by her stagecraft, there was someone expressing their displeasure in more earthy terms: “She looks like she’s escaped from the nut house,” protested one YouTube commenter.

For anyone braced for a further explosion of oddness, the strangest thing about Designer might be how disarmingly pretty it is. The staginess of Harding’s vocals has been slightly toned down, although she is still wont to sing with a curious enunciation, as if she’s invented her own accent. The tunes are sweetly charming. The music, meanwhile, is drawn in soft, warm tones: piano, Mellotron, fingerpicked nylon-strung acoustic guitar, subtle shadings of woodwind and brass, gently pattering congas. It occasionally sounds like a lost Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter album from the immediately post-psychedelic era – there’s a faintly lysergic shimmer to the tempo shifts and pregnant pauses of the title track – and occasionally like the work of Leslie Feist. The emotional temperature seems to drop midway through, with Damn’s hushed six and a half minutes ushering in a shadowy, twilit mood that lingers to the album’s conclusion, but even then the songs are draped with graceful, inviting melodies: driven by the muffled tick-tock of an ancient-sounding drum machine playing a vaguely Latin pattern, Weight of the Planets is particularly lovely.

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Aldous Harding: The Barrel – video

The lyrics are cryptic almost to the point of impenetrability and are clearly going to keep Harding’s army of online interpreters busy for some time: relatable everyday incidents are swallowed up by bizarre imagery. If it’s hard to say what Treasure or Zoo Eyes are actually about – “I made it again to the Amazon, I’ve got to erase the same as the others” opens the former, while the latter concludes with repeated demands to know “what am I doing in Dubai?” – a distinct sense of disquiet and darkness seeps through the splintered imagery, scraping unsettlingly against the music. She alludes to something grim and bloody in the lyrics of Treasure, completely at odds with its breezy musical setting; the honeyed vocals and beautiful harmonies of opener Fixture Picture conceal a bleak worldview: “You can’t be pure and in love.” Even if you don’t feel like spending hours trying to unpick what she’s on about, there’s something oddly compelling about the contrasts.

Making an album that’s both captivating and indecipherable is no mean feat. What seems like the work of an unbiddable artist, operating according to her own baffling internal logic, turns out to be something rather more finely wrought: the fractured and confusing weighed out against the straightforwardly appealing, the darkness balanced by airy light. It’s a strange world that Harding has created, but it’s also an inviting one.

This week Alexis listened to

Four Tet: Teenage Birdsong
Kieran Hebden continues to wend his way down a beautifully idiosyncratic path: sunlit pastoral electronica, devoid of indulgence, thick with melodies.

[“source=theguardian”]

Review: Ion Raid Amp II – Flat Pedal Shoes With Plenty of Grip

Ion Rascal II

Ion released the original Raid Amp flat pedal shoe a few seasons ago, and while they were light and comfortable, there was one problem – the soles just weren’t sticky enough. Time to go back to the drawing board. The latest version is called the Raid Amp II, and uses a new rubber compound and a softer midsole that’s designed to allow the shoes to really latch on to the pins of a flat pedal.

The shoes still have the same look and basic design elements of the original – the uppers are ventilated and designed to be quick drying, and the asymmetric cuff provides a little extra ankle protection. There’s also a molded rubber toecap to help prevent a rider’s toes from getting bruised and battered.

Ion Raid Amp II Details
• Pin Tonic sole design
• Molded rubber toe cap
• Elastic lace holder
• Asymmetric padded ankle cuff
• Weight: 470 grams (size 45, per shoe)
• Colors: black, grey, pink
• Sizes: 37-47
• $139.95 USD
• www.ion-products.com

The tongue isn’t gusseted, but there is an elastic strap sewn into the middle that helps keep the laces tucked out of the way. The Raid Amp II shoes are available in sizes 37-47, with three different color options: black, grey, or pink.

Ion Rascal II
Ion call their new sole design ‘Pin Tonic’.
Ion Rascal II
The asymmetric cuff and extra padding help dull the blow from crank and frame impacts.

Performance

Good news – the Raid Amp II shoes are actually grippy, and not in the usual “almost like a 5.10, but not quite” way. In fact, I’d put the stickiness level right on par with that of 5.10’s S1 rubber, the stuff that’s used on their Freerider Pro shoes. I’ve used the Raid Amp II’s on a very wide range of pedals – Shimano XT, Anvl Tilt, Kona Wah Wah, Burgtec Mk4 Composite, and found that there was plenty of traction in every instance. The shoes are stiff and supportive enough to wear on long rides without needing to worry about foot pain, but there’s still enough flex to make walking around off the bike feel very natural.

The shoes have a snug, foot-hugging fit, closer to what you’d expect from a pair of well-broken-in climbing shoes as opposed to a super-roomy skate shoe. That means these may not be the best option for riders with wide feet, but it does give them a very high degree of sensitivity, which makes it easy to tell exactly where your foot is on the pedal. How precise a shoe feels isn’t something that’s discussed very much, but it makes a difference when it comes to making those foot position micro-adjustments that flat pedal riding often requires.

The Raid Amp II’s aren’t going to keep your feet from getting soaked in a rainstorm, but they don’t turn into lead weights once they’re fully saturated either. The upper material doesn’t retain much water, and it didn’t take long to get them dry and ready for another dousing after wet rides. I haven’t tested them in any really scorching temperatures, but they do seem to breathe well, and the lack of any extra-thick padding in the uppers should help prevent any overheated feet once summer time arrives.

Ion Rascal II
Ion Rascal II
 The soles are going strong, but some of the stitching has started to come undone.

Durability

The soles of the shoes have held up very well over the last few months of use, without any unexpected wear or delamination, but I did run into some stitching related issues with the uppers. The stitching that holds one of the pull-straps on has begun to come apart, and while the last few stitches are holding strong, I’m not sure how long that will last. Some of the stitching just past where the front of the laces end has begun to give up as well, which is a little more worrying than losing the use of a pull-strap.

[“source=pinkbike”]