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Quick Look: Northwave Extreme series shoes

Northwave’s new Extreme shoe line offers up impressively low weight, near-seamless uppers, multiple closure options and an innovative three and four-bolt-compatible sole. The Italian shoemakers, who are sponsoring RadioShack-Nissan-Trek this year, debuted two new models last year and they appear, at least at first glance, to offer competitive features at a price that falls in line with other brand’s top-end offerings.

Both the Extreme (pictured in white) and Extreme Tech (pictured in “fire feet” orange) models use largely the same construction, differing only in the method of closure. The regular Extreme gets three Velcro straps and is the lighter of the two. Our size 43 pair weighs only 426g, which is edging dangerously close to ultra-light offerings like the Mavic Huez and Bontrager RXXXL Limited Edition.

The Extreme Tech gets what Northwave calls a Step By Step (S.B.S.) ratchet system and the Speed Lace Winch (S.L.W.). Basically, you get a multi-step ratchet buckle for the upper foot, and a Boa-like lacing system for the lower. The S.B.S. ratchet system allows for easier mirco-adjustment, even while riding. The extra gadgetry adds weight, though, knocking our Extreme Techs up to 512 grams per pair.

Both models boast a light, thin carbon sole and breathable one-piece upper. Ventilation channels on both the sole and footbed allow for a bit of cooling and moisture transfer. The upper is built using Northwave’s bio-mapping technology, using single shell design with zero stitching. Northwave claims that this “results in a near perfect fit and excellent levels of comfort and foot positioning,” and sticking our feet in and walking around the office seems to corroborate their story. We’ll know more after a few long rides.

Good news for Speedplay users: both the Extreme and Extreme Tech use a proprietary sole drilling that allows for the use of both regular 3-hole cleats and Speedplay 4-hole cleats with the use of an innovative adapter system, which is both lighter and offers a lower stack height than the regular Speedplay adapter.

The Velcro-powered Extreme model has an MSRP of $300 and is available in a handful of colors, including a classy white and a RadioShack-Nissan-Trek theme. The Extreme Tech has an MSRP of $325 and is also available in multiple colors, including the RadioShack theme and the quite loud orange and yellow motif we have pictured. Check back for a full review after we get a few more miles on them.

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