16 best Northwave cycling shoes

Based on reviews from 21 experts and 255 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to Northwave cycling shoes. Updated Jul 2020.

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Northwave is one of the top Italian cycling brands in the world. And just like most Italy-born footwear manufacturers, Northwave, too, takes shoe crafting very seriously. Each pair is meticulously assembled and usually displays a one-of-a-kind aesthetic to complement the functionality.

The brand’s cycling shoes have been worn in national and world championships plenty of times. Their footwear has been admired for its durability, efficiency, customizable fit, and unique materials. Read on and dive into the world of Northwave cycling shoes.

Classification of men’s and women’s Northwave cycling shoes

Best Northwave cycling shoes

Best Northwave cycling shoes - April 2020

Northwave groups its shoes into four categories: road, XC/trail, all-mountain, and after-race. Each section houses several cycling shoes designed with varying features to meet every type of rider’s cycling needs.

Road

In this section, Northwave offers models that come in the traditional cycling aesthetic - sleek, compact, and narrower shape compared to casual shoes. The brand’s road shoes have either of the following for its closure systems: Velcro strap, single or double SLW2 dials, or a combination of the two. All of these fastening types aim to provide the rider with easy and quick adjustments while on the saddle.

XC/Trail

Northwave’s XC/Trail department caters to cyclists who need footwear for MTB races. Shoes included in this category feature a heavier and bulkier aesthetic as they are equipped with additional components for impact protection, durability, or water blocking capabilities. 

Fastening systems vary from Velcro to laces and SLW2 dials. As for the outsoles, aggressive rubber lugs bedeck the bottom of the shoe. Some clipless models could also be used as a flat MTB shoe as the cleats are recessed into the sole.

All mountain

Designs under this category are meant for hike-a-biking in the hills. These Northwave MTB cycling shoes closely resemble sneakers or hiking shoes. Their soles are generally more flexible than shoes from other sections to allow the cyclist to walk and hike comfortably. Moreover, all of them can be used as a flat shoe, although some can double as a clipless shoe due to recessed cleats.

After race

The brand’s after race collection comprises of footwear meant for leisurely rides. These shoes are meant for cyclists who commute and prefer comfort over technical features. The current designs included in the after race section display a casual sneaker aesthetic but with touches of cycling elements such as SLW2 closure and grippy outsoles.

Technologies applied to Northwave cycling shoes

Part of what sets a brand apart from its competitors is the technology they incorporate in their designs. Consumers are intrigued by how a new innovation is marketed and, in turn, feel compelled to try it out. Once they feel like the feature is efficient and matches their preferences, this is when a specific cycling shoe’s (or in a broader sense the company’s) popularity ensues. 

Northwave, in particular, employs at least 6 leading-edge footwear features. They are discussed below.

Xframe construction

This technology is utilized in the shoe’s upper. It employs cutting edge materials that are ultrasoft and measure only 0.5 mm in thickness. 360-degree reinforcements are placed throughout the top, connecting the sole to the upper, allowing a snug fit with no pressure points. 

The Xframe tech also works in conjunction with the SLW2 closure system to provide a pull that is even around the foot. The result is a comfortable fit that is secure and transfers every watt of energy to the bike. The Ghost XCM employs this innovation.

Climaflex collar

The Climaflex collar is commonly employed in Northwave winter cycling shoes. This technology consists of a sock-like collar that extends past the wearer’s ankle. It is crafted from a combination of soft, highly-insulating Neoprene material and the Gore-Tex Rattler elastic in crucial areas. 

It is designed to provide extreme mobility to give the sensation of the collar as an extension of the legs while pedaling. But its primary purpose is its wind- and waterproof features to keep the foot warm and cozy while speeding through the colder weather. An example of a shoe that employs this tech is the Northwave Flash GTX Winter Boot.

SLW2 closing system

The SLW2 is Northwave’s proprietary version of the BOA dials. The brand claims that this system is the first of its kind to feature increment adjusting in both tightening and loosening motions as well as an instant release with just one button. It is said to be ultra-light and it fine-tunes in only 0.72 mm increments. 

The brand offers this technology as a replaceable component of their shoes. Check out the Core Plus shoe as an example.

Gore-Tex 

Northwave claims to be the first cycling brand to use Gore-Tex technology in cycling shoes. According to them, the partnership started in 2004, and today there are at least 8 of their designs that possess this tech. Here are the specific Gore-Tex innovations the brand uses in their shoes.

Duratherm Kelvin

  • Used for maximum thermal insulation
  • Waterproof and windproof 
  • Breathable
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Superior moisture management

Koala

  • Provides excellent thermal insulation
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Breathable

Pique

  • Offers good thermal insulation
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Breathable

The Northwave Extreme RR 2 GTX is a shoe that combines Climaflex and Gore-Tex leading-edge features.

Michelin

Michelin’s rubber compound has been heralded in several industries for years now. From cars to bikes and shoes, the rubber company has partnered with numerous companies, and one of them is Northwave. Some of the brand’s mountain bike shoes are the subjects for this innovation. All lug outsole designs are exclusive and original.

Check out the Northwave Enduro Mid shoe for an example of Michelin-equipped soles.

Anatomical Arch Support (AAS)

The company designed this technology to give a solution to one of the most significant issues for riders - the correct level of arch support. Since every foot is shaped differently, finding that ideal arch support right out the box is challenging. If a rider doesn’t wear the correct support, the possibility of developing Plantar Fasciitis and Tendinitis is high.

Northwave designed the AAS to provide the most ideal support. It is TPU-crafted and is externally integrated between the sole and the upper. The TPU material is more pliable than the shoe’s sole, which allows it to adapt after the wearer’s foot. One of the models that utilize this tech is the Northwave Extreme GT.

Frequently asked questions

Are Northwave cycling shoes a good investment?

Generally, Northwave cycling shoes are known for their excellent quality, efficient features, latest technologies, and eyecatching designs. Just for these reasons, it is safe to say that Northwave shoes could be a worthy investment. However, there are other factors to consider if an individual would perceive a pair as worth their money.

Factors such as fit and sizing and how every shoe is constructed and designed differently could be significant influences that could make or break a consumer’s decision. To help you in deciding, you can check out the detailed shoe reviews on our site.

How do Northwave shoes fit?

According to most forum answers, Northwave cycling shoes fit true to size. But don’t take their word as the ultimate truth. Why? Because every foot is shaped differently and every model is constructed differently as well. This means that you could have a completely different experience compared to the person sitting next to you.

For a more accurate decision, here are a few steps you can try.

  • Measure your foot in centimeters then check out Northwave’s size chart. It should show their available sizes and their corresponding centimeter measurement. Match your numbers with the correct shoe size.
  • Type your prospective Northwave model’s name in our site’s search bar, and thorough research about the shoe should be displayed. From sizing to technologies and colorways available - it’s all there.

Which cycling shoe replacement parts does the brand provide?

Knowing which shoe components are replaceable is essential as it could extend the usage you will get out of your pair. Here are Northwave’s available cycling shoe spare parts:

  •  SLW2 closure system
  • Studs for Northwave MTB shoes
  • Heel rubber pads
  • Northwave Explorer series cleat covers
  • Ratchet systems
  • Speed Lace closure

How to clean my Northwave cycling shoes?

Keeping your bike shoes clean not only optimizes your pair’s performance but also helps in lengthening its lifespan. Here are some tips to keep your Northwave shoes adventure-ready.

  • To take out dirt just wipe the area with a damp cloth. 
  • For dried mud and stubborn stains, get a toothbrush or shoe brush and dip it in a shoe cleaner solution or a water and dishwashing solution. Then scrub everything out. Be mindful of buckles and other hardware components. If they get soaked for an extended period, it might accelerate rusting.

Does the company manufacture their footwear in wide options?

Yes, Northwave provides some of its models in a broader construction. Of course, the lineup list always changes as new designs are being released and old ones being discontinued.