Northwave Rebel R3 SBS Cycling Shoes Review (2013)


In a cyclist’s equipment „arsenal”, the shoes have their own special and important place. And it makes perfect sense since they are responsible for transferring as much, if possible all, energy generated by the strokes of the feet towards the pedals. But about cycling shoes in general you can read in this article, so further on we concentrate on finding out what Northwave’s Rebel R3 SBS model are really capable of.

The first, and in the same time the most important feature of the cycling shoes is the sole. Optimum power transfer requires high stiffness of this bottom side of the shoes, which also plays a big role in comfort, as it spreads the pressure along the footsole in an even manner. From these points of view, the Rebel R3 SBS make ends meet, eventhough the upper-mid level to which they belong to isn’t always top notch in this regard. Also, Northwave managed to pull an interesting stunt through the Speedlight 3D sole, which doesn’t include a single fiber of carbon, being manufactured out of fiberglass and nylon. Like I mentioned, stiffness is pretty good universally speaking, and even better considering the materials, but there is space for improvement.

Sticking to sole-matters, when you deal with mountain bike shoes, their grip becomes even more important as you might encounter situation where you’ll have to push your bike uphill. In this case as well, the Rebel R3 SBS rise up to the level of expectation, the rubber knobs proving to be more than useful on over-mudded courses. Besides, really satisfying is the comfort level provided, my feet not becoming the subject of modern torture when covering the push-bike sections. Additionally, in the front side of the sole you can mount to extra replaceable knobs.

Another demand that cycling shoes must meet is the fact that they have to become one with your feet, without blocking blood flow. The Rebel R3 SBS do really well in this respect, the SBS (Step By Step) ratchet system allowing you to choose a very accurately adjusted grip around your feet. The system features a smart mechanism, that permits you to tighten the buckle either in a progressive manner, or in leaps, and does the same when lossening it, thanks to the two buttons present. The black button is responsible for step-by-step release, whereas the gray one undoes as may steps as you want at a time. Furthemore, the two Velcro straps play their part in the foot-shoe symbiosis, with the upper on being linked to the shoe’s tongue for a better fit.

Comfort has been given extra attention, as a testimony standing the ventilation system composed out of a mesh placed in the tip of each shoe, the usual meshes found on the upper of the footwear, and out of 4 air vents drilled in each heel cup. I couldn’t say that all these vents act as an air conditioning unit, because hot weather was rather illusive this year, including at the moment I’ve tested them, but you can feel your feet a bit more cooler that in usual cases.

Finally, I mustn’t forget about the Omega Heel cups that basicly fasten you heel in them, and the microfiber footbeds that provide antibacterial protection and extra ventilation. The aproximately 800 grams of these shoes don’t allow them to occupy a place among the best such products, but for its level, they sure are top notch. And if their price might seem out of reach, keep in mind that Northwave did little next to none in regard of compromise when manufacturing the Rebel R3 SBS.