Northwave isn’t shy about its “Born to challenge the fearless, the most extreme and reckless users” aspirations, but the details are less spectacular. The main changes to the NW race shoes are additional ‘Super Shield’ thermaweld bumpers around the toe and outside forefoot, plus a reinforced heel. The SLW2 (that's Speed Lace Winch) tensioning dial on the side uses a manual release catch rather than a Boa dial. That makes it a slow double-handed pain to undo but stops accidental release if it gets a knock from a passing rock.
The carbon reinforced nylon sole has toe and heel tread and a hard plastic sole centre. It’s thinner, to get you closer to the pedal for decent bike feedback, but still stiff. The mostly seamless upper keeps things light and Northwave’s Biomechanical Mapping fit is supportively snug.
Go steady before a sprint, because pulling the toe straps or winch too tight cuts off blood flow remarkably quickly. Large amounts of venting on the upper and vents in the sole mean this is a warm weather shoe, but it dries fast if it does get wet.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.