Apparel & Accessories

Tested: Northwave Razer MTB shoes

Singletrack.com's tech editor Zack Vestal tested Northwave's Razer MTB shoe. Does the shoe fit?

NORTHWAVE RAZER
• $250
• Carbon fiber sole
Weight: Size 44 (tested) 450 grams per shoe
www.northwave.com/

Northwave’s Razer mountain bike shoes are the flagship off-road kicks from this Italian company. As you’d expect, they’re suitably flashy for the brand that once sponsored the likes of Paola Pezzo.

These days, it’s Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flecha and Jose Antonio Hermida flying the colorful Northwave flag. In any case, the 2010 Razer shoes have plenty of performance to back up their star-studded lineage and outsized image. After almost a full summer of riding and racing, I’d say they’re very fine mountain bike shoes. They’re comfortable and durable, but they’d be even better if they lost a little weight.

Attention to Detail

As you’d expect for a racing shoe, Northwave starts with a carbon fiber sole. The tread lugs are made from natural rubber, which gives them exceptional grip on all surfaces. There are threaded inserts at the toes for spikes.

Northwave Razer
Northwave's Razer's lugs offer great grip. Photo by Zack Vestal

For 2010, the Razer sole has been given a much lower profile compared to years past. Northwave says it allows for a lower overall weight due to less material used and also results in an easier, more intuitive pedal interface. The rubber in the sole now has two separate densities. One is a softer durometer for sure grip on all surfaces, while the other is a firmer rubber that gives excellent support and greater durability.

This outer sole is supported by carbon layer that gives the shoe its overall stiffness, but at the same time is thinner than ones used in the past giving it a closer foot-to-pedal stack height. The all-new upper uses more supple materials and ample ventilation through Northwave’s Aerator System. According to Northwave, there are no overlapping materials and the mesh is placed in key areas for maximum foot comfort.

There is also the new Omega heel cup that gives the Razer superior heel stability and allows for cooling via rear air vents. Northwave continues to use its ASR2 instep closing system including the S.B.S. buckle. There’s a button on the buckle to release it in one-ratchet increments for fine tuning tension, or it can be released completely with another button.

Happy Feet

I had zero complaints with the Razer shoes in almost every regard. They’re very comfortable and very supportive. The fit was perfect for me, with a relatively wide toe box and snug heel counter.  The soles were plenty stiff and didn’t cause any hot spots on long rides. Ventilation is fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s quite as amazing as Northwave’s claims might lead you to believe.  The tread on the soles is amazing — very grippy and comfortable for walking. However, the tread under the heel is rounded at the edges, which diminished stability.

The ratchet buckle didn’t give me any trouble, but it’s not the smoothest in the world to operate. Personally I think the one-ratchet release is not necessary and makes the mechanism more complicated.

But if you appreciate that feature, you’ll love the buckle on the Razers. In a perfect world, the Northwave Razers would be lighter. In size 44, my testers weighed 450 grams per shoe. That compares to 350 grams per shoe for Mavic Fury shoes, which I have tested and are admittedly much less supportive and sturdy for heavy duty trail rides. But weight matters and these guys feel hefty.

At the end of the day, I’d prefer the Razers for high-end trail riding and epic racing. I don’t think they’re light enough for serious cross-country use, but they’re sturdy and comfortable to go the distance.