Northwave already showed us a thing or two in terms of winter cycling gear, but this does not necessarily mean the situation repeats itself in the case of summer equipment. Only an extensive test will shed some light on the Italian products’ quality, so here we go.
Northwave baggies and short sleeve jersey
The two items are part of the manufacturer’s middle range of equipment, and it’s not hard to notice when taking a closer look, and, even more so, when wearing them. With a not very tight fit, which means the wind will significantly slow you down, the jerseys are pretty much the same, save for the graphic part. There are only two practical differences between them, namely the zip-pockets that Rocker features and the Heart does not, and the lightweight fabric, which includes meshes, of the first, that makes for better air circulation. Northwave’s option does raises some questions, because those who will go for the neat graphic of Heart will not enjoy the higher quality of the Rocker, but then again we’re talking only about a marginal leap in terms of functionality. For the record, we’d wear the Rocker.
Concerning the baggies, things are pretty much the same as in the previous case, only the two models, Idol and Rocker, are further apart, the first being a true entry-level, while the secondhaving more mid-level than entry-level features. The Idol truly has some catching up to do both in terms of quality (questionable fabric, sloppy stitches), as well as in regard of functionality because the small, zip-less pockets simply won’t work.
We’d rate the Rocker baggies with 2 points out of 5 only for the fabric, much thicker, and with a more elaborate appearance, but they also bear an improvement in terms of functionality, with slightly larger pockets, and an extra rear one, featuring a Velcro strap. All in all, the Rocker line is a safe bet.
Northwave Pro and MTB Full Air gloves
We’ve knocked ourselves out with 2 pairs of gloves: Pro, a classical high-end, fingerless model for cycling, and MTB Full Air, a full finger, more mid-level glove. In the case of the Pro, the manufacturer didn’t take any chances and inserted some grippy Clarino fabric on the inside of it, along with some silicon inserts which help your hand cope better with shocks. Pair up the gloves with a set of ergonomic handlebar grips, and you get a comfort level you never thought such a simple recipe would provide.
We must not forget about the fact that the Pro gloves, despite their comfort level, offer a good protection level, and great functionality. While the first is secured by different insertions placed in different places, the latter feature is enhanced by the Biomap design of the palm.
The MTB Full Air gloves are a different story, one manufactured out of sintethic leather. Full finger doesn’t mean your hand will boil up in them, especially that they are rated as summer gloves by the manufacturer. This is possible thanks to the lots of holes for ventilation on the palm side, and a lightweight upper, that allow air to circulate freely, cooling your hand. Ergonomics play a key part in the good impression these gloves make, and the Biomap palm construction has almost everything to do with it, although some credit goes to the silicon inserts as well.
Northwave Storm helmet
Leaving very little to be desired, Storm truly deserves its placing as the top-end product of the helmet line, being light (245 grams), and having a sufficient number of air vents in order to keep things and heads cool. Some would say it lacks a mesh in the front part of the helmet that keeps insects at bay, but we haven’t seen so far a top-end helmet that includes such an option.
Luckily for us, we didn’t get to see how much protection it provides, but the construction seems sturdy enough. Bacteria won’t feel at home in Storm’s padding, and adjusting the fit is a simple task thanks to the ratchet system.
Northwave Extreme Tech MTB Plus mountainbike shoes
Things don’t get any better than this as far as Northwave mountainbike footwear is concerned. Having the previous year model to compare them with, the 2014 Extreme Tech MTB Plus shoes reveal the full extent of Northwave’s development rate. Where improvement was possible, it took place.
So, you’ll probably find them a bit more comfortable, lighter, and more appealing in terms of visual appearance, if you’re not a fan of neon colors that is. It seems Northwave didn’t spare any effort in securing a tight, but non-restrictive fit, which only adds up to the great user experience.
An important piece of these shoes’ construction is the Extreme Air footbed, which ensures your soles stay in the right position, regardless if you’re pedalling or pushing your bike, this being the same position in which optimal power transfer is also reached.
Regarding the push-bike situations, the sole spikes will handle them without any difficulty, but the Vibram inserts found in various parts of the sole also contribute to shoe grip.