Just in from Italian manufacturer Northwave is a set of genuine cycling winter gear, including a set of long bib shorts, a thermal jacket, a balaclava, a pair of gloves and, of course, the company’s specialty, a pair of winter shoes.
Northwave Extreme Graphic Long Bib Shorts and Thermal Jacket
The first indication about these clothes’ efficiency sits in the label which indicates 2 out of 3 stars in terms of wind protection and the same in terms of thermal insulation, this meaning they are rather more suited for 0-2 degrees Celsius. In real life this means that you can wear the bibs in cold weather without any worry, but you’ll have to wear a thicker baselayer under the jacket. This configuration allowed me to cycle problem-free in a 5 below zero (Celsius) temperature without having the slightest notion about the frost outside. The only problem appears when descending, because the cold intensifies, and causes a feeling closer to 15 below zero, a situation that proved to be more than a match for my clothes. Their thermal properties fail at such temperatures, but maybe the fact that descents imply less effort also took its toll, and to be honest, this is a flaw I encountered in the case of most clothing.
Otherwise, on hilly courses that abound in ups and downs, the Extreme Graphic is all you could ask for, eliminating perspiration, while maintaining warmth. From the practical point of view, the jacket features 4 rear pockets, one overlapping the others, and having a zipper. The left and right lateral pockets are big enough to firmly hold even a half-liter water bottle, while the sleeves are long enough to stretch over the gloves and help them in the quest for heat.
Extra protection is offered by the bibs also, the frontal surface having a larger thickness for (obviously) better wind protection. The chamois helps this pair score big in terms of comfort, even when crossing the mountains for hours, and the NW4Pro membrane simply works wonders, both in the case of the bibs, and in the case of the jacket, when it comes to thermal insulation, and breathability.
Northwave X-cellent Touch Gloves
Northwave’s X-cellent Touch gloves don’t have a very bulky construction, but do take on with full rating the Wind- and Thermoproof challenge. Leaving theories aside, this means that the gloves offered great protection against the cold, even when stopping for a few short moments. They do really well in keeping the wind at bay, but if you’ll sit still for a longer period, expect some decrease of your hands’ temperature. All in all, they are decent gloves, but you can find better ones on the market for this purpose.
As far as functionality is concerned, they leave no room for doubt. The palm features 4 large silicone inserts that help absorb shocks caused by the uneven terrain. On the top of the last 3 fingers there are also silicone tips for greater grip, while the index and thumb contain the Silver Touch insertion that allows you to use a touchscreen when wearing them.
Also, between the thumb and index you can find a suede patch for extra grip, and on the thumb a cotton-like patch for wiping off sweat. The lower part of the gloves also comes in handy during winter rides as it covers the wrist.
I’m really pleased with the great function of these gloves, but the thermal protection could have been better, a temperature lower than 5 below zero (Celsius) being the very limit of them, in my opinion.
Northwave Arctic Commuter M GTX Winter Shoes
This pair’s price is in perfect correlation with its performance. On short, there isn’t a single flaw that I could find them, even more so when teamed up with a pair of Husky Ceramic Socks. I accidentaly dipped my foot in a puddle of cold water (the ice above it cracked), but I waited in vain for the cold liquid to reach my skin.
The inner membrane of these shoes acts as a strong defense against extreme cold, and, doubled by the outer Koala Gore-Tex layer, the duo makes the Arctic Commuter virtually extreme-cold-proof. Easy to wash, very comfortable, and reflective, a perk that those of you who ride in low light will find lovely, this pair is nothing short of the magic item you needed for winter riding without frostbites.
Lacing up is easy, thanks to the Speed Lace closing system, and the higher ankle provides extra protection for your leg. Otherwise, the carbon reinforced sole offers a decent level of stiffness, and the spikes make the push bike part much bearable. Excellent shoes!