Northwave’s Rockster has been designed to combine performance on the road with all-terrain comfort and durability.
Aimed specifically at the gravel sector, the Rockster has a synthetic upper perforated for breathability and with toe and heel protection. There are additional perforations in the tongue and insole, while the nylon composite sole has wide-spaced rubber lugs.
My usual size 46 shoe proved to be an easy fit without being oversized and the toe box has a generous amount of wiggle room. I often find that when I tighten shoes there can be some crinkling at the forefoot but there was none of that here – you pull it on smoothly for a snug but not tight fit.
I’m not a big fan of laces on cycling shoes because I find I always need to adjust them mid-ride, but they do add a casual air to the Rockster’s look.
The Rockster is not a shoe built around the pure transfer of power but it does have a solid enough platform for efficient pedalling, though when you’re off the bike it doesn’t offer the ruggedness I expect.
The widely spaced lugs shed mud quickly but they don’t provide the grip you might need in wet mud or on loose trails. If anything, the Rockster feels more like a slightly beefed-up road shoe rather than a style truly at home on all terrains.
It is comfortable enough for walking in, with no heel slippage and a pronounced toe spring that gives a natural roll. And if you’re walking around towns when touring or on social rides, the Rockster’s relative lack of rugged credentials won’t be an issue.
It’s a good-looking shoe with a casual vibe and it comes with two sets of coloured laces, so you can play around with various colour combinations too.
It works well on the bike, is comfortable enough for walking on pavements and the price is mid-range for gravel, but overall, Northwave’s Rockster doesn’t quite deliver the goods as an off-road and gravel shoe and, in my opinion, is best suited to touring.
How we tested
Gravel shoes need to balance stiffness and efficient power transfer, comfort for longer rides and walkability for rugged terrain or off-the-bike use.
Throw into the mix the special individuality of fit and it is easy to see why there is unlikely to be one perfect solution so the best place, as with everything bike, is to start by considering your own skills, fitness and preferred riding in order to understand whether you might want to trade off some walking ease for stiffness or if comfort is everything.
So, to help you choose what’s best for you, we’ve mixed up country lanes with dirt tracks, bridleways and forest roads on day-long routes. Nothing too extreme technically but all calling for dismounts to push up steep climbs, open gates and to hit the coffee queue.
Also on test:
- Bontrager GR2
- Fizik Terra X5
- Giro Sector
- Lake MX176
- Mavic Allroad Pro
- Rapha Explore
- Scott MTB Comp Mid
- Shimano XC501
- Specialized Recon 3.0