Northwave have overhauled their shoe range, updating 80 per cent of the collection and introducing the new top-of-the-range Extreme Tech Plus road shoe.
We took a trip to Northwave’s UK distributor, i-ride, to take a look at the new road range, which for 2014 includes ten models.
There are two new closure devices which feature across many of the shoes. First, the Speed Lace Winch 2 is, you guessed it, an evolution of the Speed Lace Winch, which is Northwave’s take on the rotating micro-adjustment closure found on many high-end shoes.
The system uses a small dial to tighten a wire (heat-treated wax nylon, in Northwave’s case) which runs around the shoe, designed to offer an even fit with no pressure points. The new soft-touch dial is smaller, thinner and lighter than its predecessor, with an ergonomic base which is designed to be more comfortable to use.
The key update, however, is that the SLW2 now offers two ways to loosen the wire: you can either turn the dial backwards to release it one notch at a time, ideal for small on-the-fly adjustments, or press a quick release button to free up a lot of wire, when taking the shoe off, for example. SLW2 is also completely replaceable.
There’s also an updated ratchet, called the Slim Ratchet System. No prizes for guessing the key improvement over the previous design, but Northwave say it also has an improved ergonomic design and a lighter construction, as well as being slimmer.
Let’s take a closer look at seven of the 2014 models which caught our eye.
Extreme Tech Plus
The Extreme Tech Plus tops Northwave’s 2014 road collection. While the old Extreme Tech shoe used the original SLW dial in conjunction with a ratchet, the updated Extreme Tech Plus uses two SLW2 dials to secure the shoe.
The upper of the shoe is made from a lightweight unibody microfibre (so there are no seams), with welded mesh vents which are part of the structure of the shoe, as opposed to being stitched in.
The thin sole, meanwhile, is made from an “ultra-light” carbon fibre, with a generous number of mesh vents (we counted seven) to help keep your feet cool. Like many (but not all) of Northwave’s shoes, the Extreme Tech Plus has a Speedplay-compatible sole (when used with Northwave’s patented Speedplay adapter).
The Extreme Tech Plus weighs 235g per shoe and retail price has been set at £299.99.
The Galaxy is a completely new model, replacing the Evolution shoe and designed with comfort at the top of the agenda. The Galaxy is tongue-less – the upper of the shoe is one piece, like a sock – which Northwave say eliminates any pressure points which may develop around the top of the shoe.
The Galaxy uses a SLW2 dial and the wire runs through a self-adjusting strap where there would otherwise be the tongue. There are also two asymmetric velcro straps, which sit slightly off-centre, again to relieve pressure points and improve fit.
Otherwise, the sole has a full carbon fibre construction, and claimed weight is 295g per shoe. Yours for £209.99.
The Torpedo is, like the Galaxy, a completely new shoe for 2014. Two Torpedo models will be sold in the UK: the Torpedo Plus and the Torpedo 3S.
The Torpedo range is designed to offer many of the features of Northwave’s high-end shoes but at a more affordable price: £164.99 for the Torpedo Plus and £139.99 for the Torpedo 3S.
The aggressively-styled Torpedo Plus caught our eye. It has a unibody upper, welded mesh vents, one SLW2 dial and one velcro strap, and a lightweight carbon composite sole which is compatible with both Speedplay and three-bolt pedal systems.
Claimed weight for the Torpedo Plus is 260g per shoe, so they’re light too . Otherwise, the Torpedo 3S has three velcro straps and claimed weight is 265g per shoe.
Continue to move down the range and you’ll find the Sonic. The Sonic S.R.S. (claimed weight 283g, £99.99) has a ratchet and two velcro straps and the Sonic 3S (claimed weight 260g per shoe, £89.99) has three velcro straps. The carbon reinforced sole is well vented and is compatible with three-bolt and SPD (although the SPD fitting is not recessed) pedal systems.
Moving on and the Hammer CX is a particularly intriguing model as it’s one of the few shoes on the market designed specifically for cyclo-cross. They’ll sell for £149.99 and claimed weight is 347g per shoe.
The Hammer CX is a descendant of the Hammer, part of Northwave’s mountain bike range, and has CX-specific unibody upper, with an high, internal sock made from a water resistant neoprene material. The shoe has plenty of welded vents, to help keep your feet cool in the heat of a cyclo-cross race, but those vents have been treated to stop water getting in.
The shoe is tightened with three velcro straps, while the sole has a fibreglass-filled nylon construction. There’s also plenty of grip on the sole, as well as two toe studs. As you’d expect from a cyclo-cross shoe, the sole accepts a recessed SPD cleat.
While the Hammer CX is designed with off-road use in mind, it looks like a good winter option for road riders and commuters who use mountain bike pedals. However, Northwave do offer a range of road-specific winter boots…
Fahreinheit GTX and Arctic Commuter R GTX
That brings us neatly to the Fahreinheit GTX and Arctic Commuter R GTX shoes. Both are road-specific winter boots which essentially combine an overshoe and shoe in one hit.
They’re designed to be warmer and more water resistant than overshoes thanks to the use of a Gore-Tex membrane, insulated lining and neoprene ankle cuff. They’re also easier to get on and off than overshoes (the time it takes to get dressed is one of the drawbacks of winter cycling), and, according to Northwave, are also more durable. There is, however, the risk of water running down your leg and inside the neoprene ankle cuff.
The Fahreinheit GTX uses a mid-weight Gore-Tex Pique membrane and is therefore designed for temperatures between -10 and +15 degrees celsius, while the Arctic Commuter R GTX is for even colder conditions, thanks to the use of Gore-Tex’s top-of-the-range Koala membrane, with a recommended temperature range of -25 to +5 degrees, according to Northwave.
Both have a carbon-reinforced nylon sole and while the Fahreinheit GTX comes in all-black, the Arctic Commuter R GTX (not available to photograph on our visit) comes in high-vis yellow.
Northwave’s winter boots are done up using a Speed Lace System: pull the cord and push the mechanism downwards to lock the lacing in place. The laces are then covered by neoprene velcro straps.
At £149.99 for the Fahreinheit GTX and £169.99 for the Arctic Commuter R GTX, both represent a significant investment but if you’re serious about winter riding in all weathers, whether it be commuter or training, they look, on the face of it, a promising solution to cold and wet feet. We’ve put our name on the list for a pair to test and are ‘looking forward’ to trying them out.