My encounter with automatic pedals
It's been some time now since I purchased them, so I thought it is high time to write a review as initially planned...
The acquisition of the Qbikes in 2009 was also my first encounter with automatic pedals. I had used so far only footrests, on the various hardtails I rode. Besides the improved ergonomy of the traction and propulsion pedaling movement, hqving a sussie is another good reason to have attached boots, in order to better jump. It became very obvious to me since the automatic pedals went to the Tomac and the QBikes is rebuilt with footrests.
The pedals system I have are not Shimano like most people have, but TIME Atac. I have no element of comparison so I cannot tell if it is better than Shimano or the likes, but it is often said that the clipping system is heavier but also more robust, and performs better in muddy condition. I cannot contradict this statement, I never experienced any muddy moment when the TIME Atac refused to clip because of dirt.
Since the QBikes had these TIME Atac, my father looked consequently for some old pair of cycling boots that could go on it, and gave me his old Nike pair: "That's all I could find Eric, they have holes in it so find another pair as soon as you can !".
However I'm not a fan of Mountainbiking in the rain and rarely experienced any situation when the non-waterproofness of these Nikes disturbed me, except perhaps when stepping down in marshy terrain. But that's part of the fun.
The inconvenients that annoyed me the most with these boots were rather the prominence of the attach system under the soles, which made the walk very uncomfortable, even few meters. What's more, which could potentially damage the system, when walking on rocks. This added to the softness of the sole, uncomfortable also during pedaling.
This is how I entered into a stage of passive search for new boots, every time I was looking for something different in a bike shop. So far all the models I had seen, and matching my requirements: good cycling boots, but also easy to hike with, were rather expensive and out of budget.
The Nortwave Mission
But one day, by some coincidence, the occasion came. My friend Consuelo who lived during that time in Wroclaw, had a work colleague who just purchased a pair of boots, and wasn't satisfied with their size, and eventually color (he's got a girlfriend that cycles too !). Grzegorz, this guy, eventually became also my cycling friend, we did for example the Bike Marathon together.
Grzegorz's boots are Northwave brand, model "Mission", "Bike'n Walk": exactly the kind of boots I was looking for. It turned out that Grzegorz's pair were 44, my size, and by another lucky coincidence, he lives 500m far from me. He purchased them in the US, which explains the cheaper price of acquisition, and sale price too. That's how I came back home with the Northwave on my feet, to test how comfortable I was in it.
My first feeling was not too positive: the heels were quite stiffs and the only 500m back home made me a beginning of blister ! The first rides provided me also the same feeling, and curiously only on the right shoe. I started to wonder if he did not sell them for this reason. But I found a trick: with two pairs of thin socks, all was OK and I rode like this several times. Some time after, probably when they took the shape of my feet, the blister feeling disappeared and I now feel as comfi as slippers in it.
Another positive thing I can underline is while walking on flat terrain, the TIME Atac system does not touch the ground and feels totally absent. We realize it is there only on a prominent rock. I hiked a bit with them a couple of times when pushing the bike, and with a Vibram system in the soles, they are worth beeing called true hiking boots.
While cycling, I also don't have the unpleasant feeling I had with the old Nike pair that the sole is all soft, and that the automatic pedals are pushing the only middle of my footprint.
And a last pledge of quality: Grzegorz bought another pair of Northwave Mission in the US for himself, larger size and black. Since they are not sold in Poland, I suspect we are the only two owners of them in the city !