What is it?
A stylish, lightweight XC mountain bike shoe that offers excellent power transfer and reasonable walking stability. Quick, on-the-fly dial adjustment, a stiff sole, and snug fit culminate in an Italian kick for hard riding while looking good.
- It’s hard to beat camouflage for style points
- Easy to adjust dial closures
- Super stiff carbon fiber last
- Well-designed, reinforced upper
- Michelin lugs offer good traction but are too narrow for great off-bike stability
- Narrow fit won’t suit all feet
- If your tastes run towards low-key, look away
- $350 isn’t cheap, though the value can be argued
There are few people who add flair to function like the Italians. Northwave didn’t go the safe route when styling up its Extreme XC mountain bike shoes. Garish neon orange and gray-tone camo are hard to miss. But don’t let the looks distract you from the fact that these are really nice shoes with small details that really set the Extreme XC’s apart.
The fit is on the narrow side, typical of Italian cycling footwear. But the upper accommodates a wide range of insteps. Some of this is thanks to the way these sleek shoes are tightened to the foot. The Speed Lace Winch (S.L.W.2) dial closures are unique to Northwave with a large orange outer ring for tightening the shoes. A small button provides a single click release of the cable, loosening it just a touch. Pulling up on the edge of that same button disengages the ratchet and provides slack to take the shoe off. On all fronts, the function is great.
The upper is reinforced in critical areas to make it more resistant to abrasion. A bit of synthetic cat’s tongue material graces the inside of the heel cup to help retain the rider’s foot.
The Extreme XC’s are made with pedaling in mind. If you’re off the bike often, especially in rocky or wet conditions, look elsewhere. The Michelin lugs on these shoes offer good traction, but their shape is rounded and their size is minimal.
Bottom line, Northwave has delivered exactly what their marketing promises, a high performance XC mountain bike shoe. They’ll serve training and race duty for cross-country mountain biking and gravel racing. I wouldn’t recommend them for cyclocross racing, though, because of the limited traction.
Rating: 4 out of 5
More Info: www.northwave.com