Northwave unveiled their X-Frame concept in 2016 with the Extreme RR road shoe, then added it to the Ghost XC shoe in 2017. The idea was to have a very lightweight, soft and flexible upper that could conform to your foot, but not stretch so it remained snug for the duration of the ride…and the life of the shoes. To do this, they eliminated any rigid or semi-rigid materials and used a lightweight microfiber upper bonded to a mesh inner layer with the appropriate reinforcements placed between them as straps of fabric. A single dial closure pulled it all together, and we found them to be all-day comfortable when we reviewed the Extreme RR.
These new shoes get new uppers with a lighter, softer microfiber upper (still with no stretch), and a dual SLW2 dial closure system. The design is called XFrame 2, and it’s their new top of the line. The original XFrame used a single dial with the Dyneema cord snaking through multiple loops all the way down to the bottom to wrap the upper around your foot.
XFrame 2 came about become some of their pro racers asked if there was a way to let them customize the fit by using different levels of tension across the whole foot. By adding a second dial, they made it so riders could adjust the tightness of the upper independently across two main zones. It still wraps your foot completely and comfortably, with no hot spots or pressure points, but now you can adjust the tightness a little more finely. That’s XFrame 2, and you’ll find it on the new Extreme Pro road bike shoe shown here, along with another new feature: PowerShape.
PowerShape is their new outsole, which adds just a bit of arch support. After testing with their athletes, they found that they could create a small amount of arch support without adversely affecting those who have flat feet. In fact, they way the additional support benefits all riders by making it feel like you have better power transfer and less fatigue after a few hours in the saddle.
The shoes use their “cat tongue” material inside the heel cup to prevent your foot from slipping out. Claimed weight is 260g for a size 42 men’s (women’s versions are also available), it’s available in white or black, and retail price is €379.99.
The new Ghost Pro gets the same XFrame 2 updates for the uppers, but still uses their thin full carbon outsole. As such, it’s really more of a subtle update to the Ghost XC.
The Michelin rubber thread blocks are melded into the carbon sole, so they won’t strip off and should last the life of the shoes.
Their philosophy is to use a s little material as required to do the job, only what you need need where you need it. So the sole gets super thin, and sparse bits of tread only where needed to provide walking grip.
The heel cup is molded to retain its shape, and the process is extremely cool. Stay tuned for our Northwave factory tour to see how they make these two top-level shoes in house at their Italian headquarters. Claimed weight for the Ghost Pro is 320g and pricing is the same as the Extreme Pro.
Northwave Clan & Tribe Flat Pedal Shoes
The all-new Northwave Clan and Tribe are their first flat pedal shoes ever. In development for two years, the Clan is the more technical shoe and gets a compound tread compound called Gecko+. The outsole is an all-new compound developed in conjunction with Michelin exclusively for these shoes. What separates the Clan from the Tribe is the materials used across the upper to provide a little more protection, and the triple layer sole.
The “Flat-Specific Sole System” is made up of EVA cushioning on the inside, and the sticky Michelin Gecko+ rubber on the outside. Sandwiched between them is a TPU shank with grooves and slits to control the torsional stiffness while still letting the toe flex for walking.
The upper is an abrasion resistant materials that gets welded TPU reinforcements at the heel and toe. They won’t be out for a bit, but expect prices to be €139/$149.
The Tribe is the more casual shoe and gets a slightly harder compound called Gecko and a one piece outsole. The upper is softer with fewer reinforcements, making it a great beginner mountain bike shoe or excellent commuter and city bike shoe.
The tread compound here is simply Gecko, without the “+”.
The Tribe shoes are far more casual, and we could see ourselves just kickin’ these around the office, too. Expect retail to be about €99/$109.