Northwave's top-of-the-line Aerlite S.B.S. shoes offer comfort and rigidity with plenty of ventilation for hot-weather riding. Clever design features, including a wooden insole, make for all-day comfort.
The main improvement of the Aerlite S.B.S. shoes over Northwave's previous top model, the Aerator, is a five layer carbon fiber sole which replaces the previous titanium and carbon sole. This gives excellent power transfer and its thickness – or thinness – keeps your feet as close to the pedals as possible.
We rode these shoes in the heat of an Australian summer and found that the ventilation system works well, even climbing on 30+ C days (over 85 F).
The thermoformed and bonded wooden insole seems to help too. Northwave claims it offers better heat regulation and power transfer. You certainly don't often hear of Dutch people in their wooden clogs complaining about sore feet.
But a stiff sole is no good if your feet aren't properly attached to it and the Aerlite S.B.S.'s uppers do a great job of keeping your heels in place.
The top strap has an adjustable buckle and EVA padding. With the Web Power Cage upper it pulls your foot back into the firm but not uncomfortably solid heel cup. Even with the straps loose we got very little heel lift.
There are two Velcro straps and the ratchet for the top strap is totally adjustable; a handy button lets you adjust it just one ratchet at a time. The combination secured our foot nicely with little need for any on the fly adjustment.
The shape of the Aerlite S.B.S. shoes is hard to fault. Ample toe room and a wide foot bed made for a comfortable fit.
The adjustable buckle provides a multitude of fit options and even those with odd shaped feet should be able to get comfortable with this system. Riders with narrow feet might find it a bit roomy though.
The ample ventilation comes from an intake duct on the toe, with two exhaust ports aft of the cleat mounting area dispel bad air. Internal channels actually ensure some proper airflow, unlike some other systems which consist of little more than a couple of holes.
I'm a big fan of white shoes, so it's good to see Northwave following the dominant bike shoe style trend. They're available with red highlights – as you see here – or blue.
Without regular maintenance the white did get dirty, but if you want to be stylin' you have to make an effort.
Overall these shoes were a delight to wear and performed well for the duration of the test. These are solidly built shoes that will stand up to whatever is thrown at them, while looking cool to boot.