Universally speaking, if Italian bike and cycling accesories manufacturers haven’t existed, they should have been invented. The strong tradition of this sport goes hand-in-hand with producing the best equipment for it, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary that Italy is the home of some of the best brands in this respect. Once a newcomer, now a strong contender, Northwave’s mission is simply straight forward: to produce top cycling shoes. Other apparel also comes into play, but the footwear remains the main focus of the company based in Montebelluna. And for 2014, it seems that the stakes are higher then everbefore, Gianni Piva’s company lining up a serious range of cycling shoes and clothing, oriented towards anything that has to do with cycling.
The press presentation held last week at Northwave’s headquarters brought into attention the whole 2014 collection that the company will fully display at the coming Eurobike exhibition. Containing items destined for the mass market, or for proffessional athletes, for men, or women alike, for road or off-road enthusiats, the offering is more than generous.
What’s new for 2014
Regarding the size of the range, Northwave prepared 26 models of cycling shoes for 2014, for anything starting with mountainbiking or road cycling, to triathlon, touring, and leisure shoes. But before we get to them, let’s have a look over the technologies developed by the Italians.
The first, and considered the most important in the same time, is the SLW 2 (Speed Lace Winch) closure system. The follower of the SLW is part of the new generation of closure system that use wire lacing instead of the classical Velcro straps, which can be tensioned or released thanks to a ratchet system found on the outer part of the shoe. The mechanism was developed by BOA, and improved by other brands such as Specialized, Sidi, or Northwave.
Through SLW 2 however, Northwave managed to push performance a bit further by gathering together all the performance features present in previous such products. Namely, it’s slimmer, it has an ergonomic base, soft-touch materials, step-by-step adjustement of the ratchet (both for tightening and loosing), quick total release of the same mechanism, a single button houses these functions, and it’s completely replaceable. Basicly, SLW 2 allows selecting an accurate fit of the shoes on your feet so that you can fully benefit of the comfort and performance features of it.
Next, there is the so-called Bike Performance Custom Footbed. It’s composed out of a regular footbed, made of special foam, dubbed Open Cell Foam, that assures good breathability, and 3 different pieces, each designed for a certain type of footsole. Thus, the soft one is for flat feet, the mid one for regular feet, while the stiff is meant for high arch feet. The shape that subsequently results is an anatomical one according to Biomap studies. Northwave claims that through this, full customization is possible, and comfort and cushioning have been improved, at the same time activated charcoal controlling odor and avoiding fungus or bacteria.
For road shoes only, Northwave developed a system that ensures compatibility with the Speedplay pedals, but also came up with Air Sole, a sole that improves ventilation. As for mountainbike shoes, the higher models include a Vibram rubber insertion placed in the critical points, where extra grip is needed, like on the sides of the cleat, around the heel and halfway between these two points, in case your leg slips out of the pedals.
Regarding the clothing, it is divided in 3 major categories, for proffessional riders, amateurs, and recreational riders. Northwave paid extra attention to the visibility of riders, so it designed some reflective pieces of equipment, that act the same as safety vests, this being the main explanation for the lively-coloured cycling shoes as well. Additionally, the R&D team released a jacket that has a LED included between the rear pockets.
What to look for in 2014
The detailed presentation of the range will take place at this year’s Eurobike, but last week, Northwave lifted the curtain on the highlights of the 2014 collection.
Northwave Extreme Tech Plus will be the top of the heap in the respect of road shoes. They will feature the SLW 2 system, will weigh in at 470 grams/pair (235 grams/piece), will have a high-modulus carbon sole, custom footbed, and a unibody upper. Bright orange will be the official colour, while the probable price will be of 319,90 euros.
Northwave Galaxy is a new model that made its way in the manufacturer’s range, and alongside the SLW 2 will feature 2 Velcro straps. The lack of a the tongue will make them more comfortable according to the producer, as well as the single piece heel. The pair will tip the scale at 590 grams/pair, while the probable price will set you back 239,90 euros if you decide to buy them.
Northwave Bullet Plus stand out by their design, but they also aim to provide more comfort than similar-priced models. The SLW 2 and one Velcro strap equiped model weighs just under 600 grams/pair, and the price will be probably set around 189,99 euros.
Northwave Sonic SRS is another important part of the collection, because it will offer a competitive quality/price ratio. For 129,99 euros you’ll get a pair of shoes measuring 566 grams, having a carbon reinforced sole, and SBS buckle closure system.
Northwave Extreme Tech MTB Plus are the mountainbike equivalent of the first model detailed here, and compared to it, it features the Vibram insertions mentioned earlier, and the specific knobs. Pricing will most likely be set at 320 euros, while the weightscale will indicate 560 grams/pair.
Northwave Nirvana is for mountainbike what the Galaxy is for road cycling, featuring a SLW 2 closure system, and a carbon-nylon sole, that helps it reach the weight of 738 grams/pair. The price will reach 199,90 euros.
Last, but not least, the Northwave Hammer CX is one of the first shoe models designed specifically for cyclocross. The version derives from the mountainbike model Hammer, but it was fitted with a CX specific upper that covers the ankles, includes water resistant neoprene material, and has asymmetrical straps for closure. The upper also features welded protections, while as the Speedlight 3D makes up for the sole. A pair tips the scale at 694 grams, and will probably be retailed for 164,90 euros.