Northwave Enduro Mid Cédric Gracia shoe review

Stiff but walkable kicks with durable sole and protection for toes and ankles

Shoes
The Northwave Enduro Mid have served as solid companion for a summer's worth Colorado high country adventures.

The Northwave Enduro Mid have served as solid companion for a summer’s worth Colorado high country adventures.

Lowdown: Northwave Enduro Mid Cédric Gracia Signature Shoe

Slap the enduro tag on a pair of mountain bike shoes and you’re essentially claiming that they offer the best of all worlds. They must have stiff but walkable soles, bombproof foot and ankle protection, good venting, easy and variable fit adjustment, solid heel security, durability, and of course good looks. So how do the Cédric Gracia signature model Northwave Enduro Mid SPD compatible shoes measure up? Read on to find out.

Stat Box
Weight: 481 grams per shoe (size 43 tested) Available sizes: 38-46
Upper: Multilayer thermowelded Colors: Camo/white/black, blue/yellow, black/red
Sole: Dual compound X-Fire by Michelin Price: $189
Closure: Speed Lace Winch 2 w/ protect cover Rating: 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 3.5 out of 5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Stiff soles
  • Wonky protective covers
  • Durable tread
  • Some delaminating
  • Durable upper
  • Poor stock insoles
  • Semi-micro adjust
  • Some dial looseness
  • Secure fit
  • Some stitch fraying
  • Ample space for cleat adjustment
  • Not super light
  • Easy full release
  • Comfy heel cushioning
  • Solid ankle protection
  • Secure heel hold
  • Reinforced toe box
  • Low profile dial
  • Good looks
  • Two-way dial operation (sort of)
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Comfortable to walk in
  • Great off-bike trail grip
  • Wide platform when out of pedals

Review: Northwave Enduro Mid Cédric Gracia Shoes

There is much to love, and a bit to loathe, when it come to evaluating the Cédric Gracia signature model Enduro Mid shoe from Northwave. The black/white camo design makes a statement without making too big a statement. Like Gracia himself, style and flair are backed by substance. In this case, protection is the name of the game.

Heel security is firm and there's extra cushion for those unexpected flat landings.

Heel security is firm and there’s extra cushion for those unexpected flat landings.

The Enduro Mid shoes have a reinforced toe box and taller inner cuff, which conspire to protect your feet from the inevitable rock smash or crank scrape. And during a summer’s worth of testing in Crested Butte, Hartman Rocks, Lunch Loops, and Moab, there was plenty of smashing and scraping, but no blood, bruises, or bone breaks.

The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can’t quite find your cleat.

The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can’t quite find your cleat.

It’s a similarly positive story for the Michelin made rubber sole (dubbed X-Fire), which utilizes a dual compound design and a tread pattern borrowed from some of its mountain bike tires. The inner area is softer for better grip, but harder and more wear resistant toward the outside. The sole also has varying degrees of stiffness front to back, so the shoe pedals well, but is also reasonably comfortable to walk in. It’s proven exceptionally durable, which is particularly impressive considering the amount of time during this test that I spent riding/walking on slickrock, which is essentially 24 grit sandpaper. Here’s Cédric himself talking about the design process.

The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can’t quite find your cleat. Additionally, the recessed cleat mounting area is larger than on many similar shoes, availing more cleat placement options both laterally and fore/aft.

Our test session included time in Moab and Colorado's rough and rowdy Western Slope.

Our test session included time in Moab and Colorado’s rough and rowdy Western Slope.

Security and closure are also well done. Rather than laces or oversized flaps, the Enduro Mid uses Northwave’s Speed Lace Winch 2 system, where a thin dial tightens the tension on a cable lace. There’s also a Velcro strap that runs across the top of the foot to help assure no unwanted foot slippage. It’s basically a poor man’s Boa dial set-up, which I say because unlike the newest Boa dials that spin/micro-adjust in both directions, the SLW2 does not spin backwards to loosens. Instead you have to press a button above the dial. Click it and tension is released in micro steps. Lift the button and pull the tongue and the closure loosens completely. Here’s a video demo of the process on one of Northwave’s XC shoes:

At this point you’re probably wondering why these shoes didn’t score better than a 3.5 out of 5. Well, No. 1 is that the included insole just didn’t cut it. The material is soft and flimsy with almost no arch support. I wore these shoes once with the stock insoles before tossing them in the trash and borrowing a better pair from an old pair of Pearl Izumi shoes I had kicking around.

The shoes ship with protective dial covers, but we ditched them after just a few uses.

The shoes ship with protective dial covers, but we ditched them after just a few uses.

I also had little use for the included protective dial covers (pictured above), which were finicky to install and didn’t always stay in place. They too were ditched after a just a handful of rides.

After three hard months of use there's delamination occurring in several places.

After three hard months of use there’s delamination occurring in several places.

The other issue, as it often is with mountain bike shoes, was durability. After a hard summer’s worth of riding (and some nasty rock strikes) the upper started to peel away from the lower in several spots. The worst offender is the site of one particularly hard hit during a Hartman Rocks session, which all by itself could be forgiven. But peel back is happening in at least one other spot, too, which is definitely a durability red flag.

The sole is stiff enough to max out the watts, but not so stiff that the occasional off-bike excursion is painful.

The sole is stiff enough to max out the watts, but not so stiff that the occasional off-bike excursion is painful.

The good news is that rest of the shoe material (upper, dials, straps, sole) are all still in good shape. So it’s a safe bet that with monitoring and some carefully placed Shoe Goo, I’ll get at least one more season out of these kicks, which for a pair of enduro shoes is about all you can ask for. Finally it’s worth mentioning that while MSRP is $189, a recent Google search turned up price tags in the $140 range, which is a pretty good deal when you consider you’ll pay three times that for pair of high end cross-country race shoes.

For more info please visit www.northwave.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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  • Bikeorski4me says:

    I bought a pair of these shoes in June of this year and ride 2-3 times per week in the Rocky Mountains…I agree with most everything reported by Jason, insole is far from good and I did the same replacing with a set I had in a pair of Scott shoes, the dial covers are frankly a pain in the a%$ but do help protect the dials. My strategy was to use them until lost and then not worry about it after that.

    There is one very big durability issue that I encountered and the shoe is back for warranty replacement…the loop that holds the D-Ring for the Velcro strap snapped/broke on one shoe and shows considerable wear on the other, it too will eventually break. The immediate thought would be that this is caused by crank rub but it definitely is not, I have never had a problem with crank rub and there is zero indication this has been happening when inspecting the crank. I think it is just underweight material that is prone to wear when walking, I can only attribute this to the design of the upper part of the shoe which is quite thick/wide and it appears this area contacts the other shoe when walking.

    This could easily be fixed with heavier material for the loop fastener, otherwise it is a very good, comfortable and solid shoe.

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