Northwave mountain cycling shoes

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Northwave’s footwear is known for their eye-catching designs. From bold colors to textures and contrasting accents, NW’s cycling shoes are not for the meek. The brand’s mountain bike shoes are even flashier than their road shoes with the former’s aggressive lug outsoles and burlier silhouettes.

If you’ve come to learn more about Northwave MTB shoes, you’re in the right place. Just read on for all the scoop.

What makes a Northwave mountain cycling shoe

best Northwave mountain cycling shoes

Best Northwave cycling shoes - April 2020

As with any cycling brand, Northwave also offers a unique set of features to set itself apart from the rest of the crowd. The company groups their mountain shoes into two sections: XC/Trail and All-mountain. Below is the detailed information about NW MTB shoes.

Upper features

Apart from bold designs, the majority of the brand’s MTB shoes employ a unibody construction using synthetic fiber with mesh inserts or perforation holes. This upper design prevents pressure points and enhances ventilation. Plenty of models also feature reinforcements on the toe, heel, or both to keep toes protected from rock strikes and impact.

Almost all models in the XC/Trail category have a low profile, while the majority of the mid to high-profiled mountain bike shoes are placed under the All-mountain department. Northwave also offers designs treated with water-repellent film to keep the feet dry as it starts to drizzle in the mountains.

Closure systems

Northwave MTB shoes provide a variety of fastening systems to cater to every rider’s preferences. The company uses three main methods for their shoes: straps, lace-up, and SLW2 dials. Several designs employ a combination of two of them at a time. Examples of shoes that apply a fusion of closures are Northwave Origin and Northwave Spider 2.

As the first two closures are self-explanatory, we can go ahead with their pros and cons. In Northwave’s MTB models, the Velcro straps are the most used out of all the fastening systems. Apart from being utilized by itself, they are also used in combination with either laces or SLW dials. They are preferred for their lightweight and easy adjusting design.

The lace-up system is loved for its tried-and-tested efficiency and lightweight fit. Moreover, a lot of cyclists applaud its indestructible design apt the rugged nature of mountain biking. On the flip side, several riders get turned off by the laces’ unadjustable design while on the bike.

Last but not least is the SLW2 dials. They are Northwave’s proprietary closure system. The brand basically made their own version of the BOA dials, but what sets it apart is its function. The dial could be tightened in increments while an added button serves a dual purpose: step-by-step loosening when pushed and instant full release when pulled.

Sole designs

Almost all MTB shoes’ soles look the same, but the differences are in the details. What sets Northwave’s mountain bike shoes from the rest is their exclusive stiffness meter. The company measures its shoes’ sole rigidity from 1 to 15.

Apart from the degree of stiffness, sole traction is brought by aggressive lugged outsole designs. Some feature the world-renowned Michelin rubber, while others employ regular rubbers. Moreover, several provide the option to attach toe spikes for added grip.

Fit and sizing

Northwave’s shoes are generally offered in EU measurements. According to their chart, sizes run from EU 34 to 50. Once converted, NW shoes are available from US men’s 3 to 15 or US women’s 5 to 16.

Although all models can be converted to women’s sizing, Northwave has released multiple women’s exclusive mountain bike shoes, such as the Northwave Elisir 2. These models are crafted on women-specific lasts that mimic the ladies’ narrower foot shape. Moreover, some existing footwear models have been reinterpreted to employ a women’s fit. Some examples are the Corsair Woman and Escape WMN Evo.

Northwave MTB shoe categories

With the abundance of mountain cycling activities, most brands have broken down their models into groups to provide their clients with a more organized and concise lineup. Below are Northwave’s mountain bike shoe sections:


Due to the nature of Cyclocross races and trail biking, this category mostly houses clipless MTB shoes with walkable cleat designs. This specific type of sole design is employed to provide essential features such as excellent power transfer and comfortable off-bike experience.

NW MTB shoes that fall under this category are available in both regular and wide fit. Aesthetic-wise, these shoes display very technical looks.


Shoes that belong in this section are less technical in both design and features compared to the previous category. Their aesthetic resembles that of either skate shoes or hiking shoes. Northwave’s all-mountain footwear is also usually crafted with rubber midsoles with TPU shank for greater flexibility and enough rigidity. 

However, protective features don’t falter as they come fully-equipped with excellent impact resistance.

Frequently asked questions

What is Northwave’s sizing in their mountain bike models?

The brand’s official sizes and conversions are discussed above. However, if we are to base the sizing on Northwave mountain cycling shoe reviews and feedback, most have claimed that they generally fit true to size. 

But keep in mind that each model is constructed and designed differently. For a more detailed and accurate review of a specific model, just click on any shoe above or input the shoe name you’re looking for into our search bar.

Can I road bike in Northwave MTB shoes?

If you are going on a road cycling adventure on your own with the aim of leisure, then yes, you can. There are a lot of road cyclists who prefer using MTB shoes with MTB pedals on their road bikes due to the footwear’s recessed cleat design. This cleat type allows the cyclist to walk comfortably.

But if you will be participating in any competition, road-specific cycling shoes are recommended as they are equipped with appropriate features to aid in your optimum performance.

Can I do spinning classes using my Northwave mountain cycling shoes?

Spinning classes, in particular, uses 2-bolt pedals, so yes, you can wear any of NW’s MTB shoes. But since the term “spinning” also generally applies to indoor cycling, you have to ask your studio which type of pedals they have on their stationary bikes. Once you confirm, know that 2-bolt pedals pair with mountain cycling shoes and 3-bolt pedals are suitable with road cycling shoes.

How to take care of my NW MTB shoes?

Just like any pair of shoes, knowing how to properly care for your footwear could lengthen its life and provide its best service while you do your thing on the bike. Here are a couple of tips for your next cleaning session:

  • First, make a solution of a mix of water and dishwashing soap. Then get an old toothbrush that presumably has soft bristles and dip it in the solution. Brush the areas in the shoes that need cleaning.
  • Insert a newspaper before cleaning so it can absorb all liquid and moisture. Then renew that newspaper after washing and before storing to ensure all moisture will be absorbed.
  • Let your pair air dry somewhere where the sunlight doesn’t reach it to prevent discoloration. Also, never machine-wash your shoes if you want it to last longer.
  • Store your footwear in a cool, dry place that is also away from the UV rays.

What are the various Michelin sole technologies applied to Northwave mountain shoes?

Michelin is known worldwide for its excellently grippy rubbers. Their product has been applied to several types of footwear in which grip plays a significant role. From skate sneakers to cycling shoes, Michelin has lent their hand in producing different proprietary rubber sole models for various shoe companies. 

For Northwave, Michelin has created at least five sole designs: Hyperlight XC, Explorer, X-Fire Michelin, Rock’r Michelin, and X-Crossbow Michelin. The Hyperlight XC sole is engineered to provide very low weight without compromising rigidity. The Explorer soles were developed via the two companies’ partnership. Its main features ate combining walkable traction with enough stiffness and a tread outsole that resembles Michelin tires.

The X-Fire is constructed with softer rubber on the inside part of the soles for enhanced grip and tougher and rougher rubber designs on the outer portions for abrasion-resistance. The Rock’r Michelin is designed after the popular Wild Rock’R 2 Tire. It is engineered to have varying stiffness and grip at the same time.

Lastly, X-Crossbow. This sole design is inspired by MTB tires. It is engineered for traction and self-cleaning abilities. Moreover, it features the X-Crossbow double crossbow midsole for shock absorption, while the footbed molds after the foot for enhanced comfort.