Northwave was one of the first cycling shoe companies to really get behind the idea of keeping your feet comfortable year round when they put Gore-Tex liners into their cycling boots back in 2004. But after almost a decade and a half they’ve come around to the idea that keeping our feet warm & dry isn’t the only concern for serious cyclists riding through the winter. So Northwave is ditching the stiff winter boot concept and moving over to a new flexible design that pairs a flexible Climaflex Collar to a performance low-cut shoe. The result is comfortable full range of motion at the ankle, combined with full weather protection.
Now with an eleven shoe range containing eight shoes that get their asymmetric dial adjustable uppers, and six with the new Climaflex cuff, Northwave has every type of cold weather rider covered.
The Extreme GTX is the new top of the line winter cycling shoe and pretty much starts its life with the same construction as the Extreme RR or new Ghost XC. That means that the fit & feel of the shoe is analogous to a top-level road or cross country shoe, with Northwave’s asymmetric XFrame dial lacing system with its Dyneema cable, a supple synthetic upper, and a light & stiff carbon outsole.
But instead of just extending the cuff up to offer ankle coverage, the Extreme GTX shoes get the new Climaflex Collar. Designed as a flexible neoprene cuff lined with a GoreTex membrane, it is easy to get onto the foot, yet closes relatively snugly against your leg. That waterproof liner is also some interesting tech as it looks to be the first use of GoreTex’s Kelvin membrane in cycling shoes. Duratherm Kelvein laminates the waterproof, breathable membrane to hollow fibers for more insulation rating the shoes for use down to -15°C (5°F) & up to 5°C (41°F).
The idea is that it allows a complete range of ankle motion so your pedaling stroke isn’t impacted just because the temperature drops. We tried the shoes on and they are easy to slip into, and fit close to the leg of most of the people we saw wear them. Full flexibility is indeed there, but the cuff is not tight enough to eliminate all gaps at extreme ankling angles. Instead, the extended cuff is designed to be worn under the cuff of a pair of tights to create a full seal while still allowing range of motion.
Besides the XFrame lacing, ClimaFlex cuff, GoreTex Kelvin, the road going RR and off-road XCM get their own carbon soles with tread optimized for cold weather use. They also get Arctic footbeds that mix layers of fleece and aluminum to reflect heat back into the foot to keep your toes warm.
Both shoes come in a 39-48 size range (half sizes from 39.5-45.5) and are available only in black for 280€. The road RR should weigh around 365g per shoe, while the mountain XCM tips the scales at 448g. Both versions are heading out through distribution channels as we type, so should be available within a week or two from now.
Northwave Flash & Raptor Arctic GTX & GTX
Coming down from the top end Extreme GTX shoes, Northwave continues a broad range of the new ‘winter shoes, not winter boots’ concept. Also using Northwave’s SLW2 dial closure (with no plastic internal parts, and fine adjustment) & same Dyneema cable, the road Flash and off-road Raptor names get more options.
Flash/Raptor Arctic GTX combine the new flexible ClimaFlex cuff with Arctic level insulation and a GoreTex membrane, with a slightly more affordable upper and simple cable loop (middle above) still rated down to -10°C (14°F). If you don’t need so much insulation, the Flash/Raptor GTX (rear above, camo) drop the extra insulation while keeping the ClimaFlex cuff and GoreTex membrane for comfortable riding in the cold & wet down to -3°C (27°F)
Northwave Flash & Raptor TH
Again you get the exact same lower construction of the Flash & Raptor GTX shoes, but ditch the GoreTex liner and extended cuff. The Flash & Raptor TH then use 200g Thinsultae insulation to keep your feel cozy for late fall & early spring riding when wet roads & trails are less of a concern, rated for 0-15°C (32-59°F) riding.
Available for 160€ in either the road Flash TH or mountain Raptor TH, the shoes get the same reinforced construction, mid-level carbon reinforced soles & SLW2 dial closure of the high top shoes. The Flash TH weighs 293g and the Raptor TH 378g, with the broader 37-48 size range (half sizes from 39.5-45.5) range as the Flash/Raptors with the extended cuff.
X-Cross GTX, Outcross Plus GTX & Yeti
Not to be left out, Northwave does carry over a few actual winter boots, even as they push the shoes over boots ideal. The X-Cross GTX (front above) is the latest update to their long running winter mountain bike boot, keeping things simple with the more rigid upper. The Yeti then is the shoe if your winter riding is even more extreme. With ratings down to -20°C (-4°F) Northwave themselves said they don’t expect a lot of riders to be looking for this kind of deep winter boot. But for those who ride in the coldest of winters, a proper expedition-level winter mountain bike boot is a must.
The last of the new winter shoes is a lower cost Outcross Plus GTX which pairs a more flexible reinforce nylon mountain bike sole with a 2-velcro strap, 1 dial closure and a GoreTex liner.