Northwave's latest Striker SBS mountain bike shoe offers up a slightly revised fit relative to the Aerlite and Rebel models. The overall width and roomy toebox are still there but the volume around the middle and rear of the foot has been reduced by just a hair so the shoe is now far more accommodating for anyone with a less-than-sky-high arch.
The Striker does without the semi-rigid ankle cage of the Aerlite but it provides an admirably secure hold on your foot nonetheless thanks to a deep, molded heel cup and the ratcheting buckle-plus-dual-Velcro forefoot strap layout – not to mention the refined last that wraps snugly around your foot with no pressure points to speak of.
The well padded main strap is still adjustable for length, and we're happy to report that we no longer have to set it to the shortest position and ratchet the strap all the way to the last click. Just as before, the buckle boasts both full-release and single-click-release buttons for easier on-the-fly adjustments, and it's highly resistant to clogging with either mud or debris.
Ventilation is fantastic, mostly due to the gaping toe vent prominently positioned front and center where it's most able to suck in cooling air. There's plenty of mesh on the upper to help hot air get out like with most other shoes but that forward vent is much more effective at bringing cooling air in. At anything other than crawling speeds, you can feel air blowing in between your toes – a fantastic feature for hot weather riding but something to keep in mind if you plan on using these during the colder months, too.
Northwave have built the upper upon a reinforced nylon sole to keep the price in check. Though definitely not as stiff as carbon, it's perfectly acceptable for general trail riding and the increased flex is really only noticeable on longer riders – say, four hours or so. Arch support is also pretty minimal – we ended up subbing the flimsy stock insole with a custom-molded one from Fi'zi:k.
Cleat position has turned out to be somewhat variable. One tester had no problem getting his cleats properly placed on his size 43.5 shoes but the slots were placed way too far forward on another tester's size 45s. Down below is a unique dual-density soccer-inspired tread design. Though the blocks are minimal in number, their tapered shape does a good job of digging into softer ground and they're virtually impossible to clog with mud. Optional toe spikes add even more traction when needed.
That all being said, the dual-density tread can occasionally be a little tricky on slippery rocks, roots, or other hard surfaces – the softer bits offer plenty of grip but there are a few edges where the harder material won't deliver as much purchase as you might be expecting. Northwave also use that harder material in the arch area so exercise care if you miss a pedal.
Overall durability has been very good during our six-week test period, which has included plenty of scrambling on unforgiving rocks. The tread blocks are proving admirably tough – a good thing since they're not replaceable – and the molded toe vent is also working wonders at keeping the front of the shoe from tearing to shreds.
Overall, Northwave's Striker SBS has proven to be a well fitting, highly durable and comfortable shoe for the money. They're a tad chunky at 810g a pair (size 43.5) and you'll want to double-check the cleat adjustment range relative to your current shoes but otherwise, if you're constantly on the hunt for wider options, these are a good pick.