Northwave have a bunch of interesting new products coming up including a redesigned version of their top end Extreme Tech shoe, called the Extreme Tech Plus, and a new cyclocross-specific shoe called the Hammer CX.
We’re just back from visiting the Italian brand (what do you mean you thought they were American?) and they gave us a quick look at some of the products that’ll be available for this autumn/winter along with some spring/summer 2014 kit.
We’ll start with that cyclocross shoe, the Hammer CX – which is one of very few products out there designed specifically for cyclocross.
It comes with a unibody thermowelded upper – which means that it’s essentially one piece with those green vent areas that you can see in the actual foot section being held in place without the need for any stitching, reducing the possibility of discomfort. Those vents have a hydrophobic treatment to avoid water ingress.
The green bit that you can see around the ankle is an integrated neoprene ‘sock’. That is water resistant too. The sole is dual density and, of course, it takes two-bolt SPD-type recessed cleats.
Although the Hammer CX is designed with cyclocross in mind, Northwave reckon that roadies who don’t want to bother with overshoes might find it a good option for winter too.
The Hammer CX will be available in time for the next cross season but we don’t have a price yet. That’s the case for everything here, we’re afraid. This is all sneak peek stuff – RRPs have yet to be set.
Moving on… We’ve reviewed Northwave’s high-end Extreme Tech shoe before and liked it very much. Northwave have redesigned it (main pic and above) for 2014, and it returns as the Extreme Tech Plus.
One of the biggest changes is the new closure device, the Northwave-developed SLW2 – the SLW stands for ‘Speed Lace Winch’. Previously, the Extreme Tech had an SLW dial with a ratchet strap at the top. For 2014, the shoe gets two SLW2s.
To tighten them, you just turn the dial. The SLW2 offers you two ways of loosening. You can either press a quick-release button to quickly and easily let out lots of cable, or you can turn the dial backwards to gradually loosen the wire a step at a time for finetuning the fit.
The SLW2 is smaller and more low profile than before, the dial is soft- touch, and the bottom is curved for comfort. The whole thing is replaceable. The wire has been changed too, and it’s now thinner than before. Northwave found that the wire they used previously was much stronger than it needed to be so they’ve been able to use a skinnier option.
The full-carbon sole is very light and very stiff, and it comes with plenty of venting to keep your feet cool. The upper is unibody microfibre with mesh vents welded rather than stitched in place in order to reduce the possibility of pressure points.
Northwave will use many of the same features in their Extreme Tech Plus MTB shoe for next year. We don’t usually take a look at much mountain bike stuff here on road.cc, but take a look at the shape of the sole here…
Northwave reckon they can save weight by removing material from the middle section of the outsole – so it’s very narrow waisted, if you see what I mean – without reducing stiffness. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them transfer this design feature over to the road bike range soon.
The Galaxy will be a completely new model for 2014, taking over from the Evolution. It is tongueless – you can see that the foot opening is continuous the whole way around. You get an internal sock that is designed to adapt to your foot shape and avoid pressure points, and Northwave reckon this improves comfort.
The position of the upper strap is self-adjusting, which is another new feature. The cables run through it with the strap itself able to move to the position that’s most comfortable. The cable is tightened by the same SLW2 dial as Northwave are speccing on the Extreme Tech Plus.
The asymmetric straps lower straps are also designed to improve fit and prevent unintended movement, while the sole is full carbon fibre with quite a bit of venting.
The Bullet Plus is another new model for 2014. It’s a mid-level shoe but it comes with many of the features of the Extreme Tech Plus, including a unibody upper and an SLW2 closure. Apart from anything else, that seamless upper looks really clean and stylish to us. If you’re not into this colour, various other options will be available.
Over in Northwave’s All Terrain Sector, this is the new Spider Plus which gets a SLW2 dial combined with a Velcro-closure upper strap. The sole uses Vibram material for comfort and grip off the bike.
With a recessed cleat, we can imagine this one being popular with people who want something they can wear for cycling into town as well as those who want to head off into the back of beyond.
The Matrix is another new model in the All Terrain line up, although this one comes with laces rather than an SLW2 dial.
Again, it takes a recessed two-bolt cleat so we can see some urban adventurers giving it a go, although maybe in a more subtle colour option.
On the apparel side of things, Northwave are offering a whole range of high-visibility technical clothing for the autumn and winter. They were inspired to get involved by the Cities Fit For Cycling stories from The Times newspaper. You can fit an LED strip to the back of this jacket, for example, for additional visibility.
Looking further ahead, this is the Extreme Tech Plus clothing for spring/summer 2014. Like the shoes of the same name, it’s designed to be light and ergonomic with a good fit, aimed at demanding, performance-minded riders.
The jersey has a very light and breathable structure and the arm grippers, like the waistband and the leg grippers on the shorts, are perforated for plenty of airflow.
The Bullet clothing is designed to be mid-level, like the Bullet shoes (above). As you can see, the design cues of the jersey are similar to those of the shorts, gloves and armwarmers, as well as the shoes and even the eyewear, so it all matches.
A couple of other things to mention before we sign off... Northwave also do Custom Project clothing, so if you want them to make your club/team kit, they can offer customised graphics on a wide range of clothing, both summer and winter garments.
And finally, Northwave will be entering the helmets market soon. They’ve been working on a whole range with a major Italian manufacturer, but they’re not saying which one. We’ve not seen the helmets yet but Northwave will be launching the complete range at Eurobike in August, so standby for that. In the meantime, get yourself over to Northwave's website to check out the current range.
Mat has in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.