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The Northwave Extreme Pro 3s are a very stiff pair of race shoes, have an excellent dual dial closure system, and are well ventilated. They are a touch heavier than the competition, though.
The Extreme Pro 3 is the top-end shoe from Northwave, ridden by the likes of time trial specialist Filippo Ganna.
As you'd expect for a shoe with 'Pro' in the name, these have a carbon sole with a rigidity rating of 15. (Why don't all companies just use 1-10?) Northwave doesn't say whether 15 is its stiffest, but I found the sole really stiff and solid, and it never felt like any of my precious watts were wasted when transferring power through the shoes and into the pedals.
The sole is well shaped and the arch is supportive. Despite the stiff sole I didn't notice any aching or soreness while riding on the rutted roads of the south west.
The shoes will accept any three-bolt cleat design, and with an adapter they are compatible with Speedplay pedals too. There are adjustment markings to help you with positioning, and were easy to set up with Look Keo cleats.
The heel and toe bumpers are fairly minimalist but give good grip when off the bike and do a decent job of protecting the sole – there is little sign of wear after a few months of use.
The closure system on these is a pair of X-Dial SLW3 dials, which adjust the pressure in two different zones, higher and lower across the tongue. They are a bit different to the Boas on my regular shoes – they tighten the same way as the Boas but can be loosened by one notch, ie 1mm, by pressing the lever on the dial. You pull the lever back to release fully.
You might need to read the instructions, but they are very easy to tighten and loosen incrementally on the move. I really liked this, as during some long rides in hot weather I like to loosen my shoes as my feet swell.
Using the dual dials I could really get the fit just so and I didn't have any issues with heel slippage even when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle up steep gradients.
The dials work with the ARS (Anatomic Reticular Support) exoskeleton, which is designed to optimise the fit and aid power transfer.
I have to say, in the initial few wears I found the uppers very stiff and not that comfortable. I got some rubbing and early signs of a blister and was relieved I hadn't cycled too far from home.
However, after a few weeks of regular use they began to wear in and feel a lot better. The material seems to be excellent quality and I suspect these shoes will last a long time.
The tongue is fairly minimalist and doesn't have much padding but is still comfortable.
The shoes are described as a Pro fit and are a touch narrower than other shoes I have tested recently, such as the Scott Road RC Ultimates. They aren't a really narrow fit, though, if you have very slim feet.
The sizing for me is spot on; these are an EU45 which equates to a UK11. I usually wear a UK10.5/11 and these were just right. The toe box is a fairly standard size and I never had any issues with sore toes.
They are available in half size increments across the most common sizes, and also come with an additional insole, one 3mm and one 5mm, to enable you to customise your fit. These were very easy to change. I found the 5mm one gave me a better fit.
The shoes weigh 638g a pair in a size 45, which is a bit heavier than some top-end road shoes around this price. For example, the Giant Surge Pros Stu tested were 515g for the same size. It was a little noticeable at times as my usual shoes are also a bit lighter than the Extreme Pro 3s.
The shoes have good ventilation, with a big mesh section and air holes on the upper and three vents on the underside allowing air to flow through. This worked well, and when testing these in temperatures of around 25-28℃ my feet didn't overheat.
Most of my testing was done in late summer conditions, so I haven't tested these in really cold weather. However, given how white these are (they are very white!) and my aversion to cleaning, I'd always wear these with covers outside of summer. As it was, they got a bit dirtier than I'd like, but they are also available in black.
At £296.99 these are towards the top end of the road shoe market, if not right at the top.
Those Giant Surge Pro shoes I mentioned above are £3 more at £299.99 and received an excellent review from Stu who has tested a lot of shoes!
You can find good shoes for a lot less, though, such as Shimano's RC7 road shoes, which scored well and are priced at £189.99. And Steve liked the Northwave Revolution 3s; they're only 12 on the sole stiff-o-meter but are £188.99.
The Northwave Extreme Pro 3s are a very good pair of shoes. The carbon soles are extremely stiff, the excellent dual dials help to achieve the perfect fit, and after you wear them in they are comfortable. They are just a bit heavier than a lot of similar priced competition.
Very stiff, high-quality shoes with excellent dual dials, though could be a bit lighter
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Extreme Pro 3
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
Northwave says: "If it is the best you are after, Extreme Pro 3 should be on the top of your list for your next bike trip. Stemming from relentless research and constant consultation with athletes of the calibre of Filippo Ganna, Extreme Pro 3 is the sum total of top performance and fine design."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Powershape Carbon 15 sole made entirely from unidirectional carbon fibre with a stiffness index of 15 and a Powershape system that provides the bow arch with support and complete power transfer to the pedal.
Compatible with an NW Speedplay/Wahoo adaptor to lower stack height between the foot and the pedal.
Upper with ARS (Anatomic Reticular Support) structure and an outer PU skeleton which wraps the foot, transferring every watt of power to the pedal.
Double SLW3 dial - the only one with step-by-step release by means of a single button.
The mesh insert prevents overheating even in the hottest summer weather.
A double different-density footbed for a faultless customised fit (3mm and 5mm thick)
Perforated upper for the utmost ventilation.
These feel really good quality, and clean up easily; it's early days, but signs are good that they'll last a long time.
Heavier than a lot of similarly priced shoes.
Okay now, but took a while for these to feel comfortable.
Price is in line with a lot of similar quality shoes.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
In white these get dirty very easily but are super easy to clean.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These performed well; the stiff sole makes for great power transfer and they feel sturdy when putting in maximum efforts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The dual dials are great and easy to adjust. The sole is very stiff and it felt like no watts were wasted on power transfer.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They took a while to wear in and the first few wears were a bit uncomfortable.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £296 these shoes are towards the top end of the market, but you can spend more.
The Giant Surge Pro shoes are £3 more at £299.99, and the DMT KR SL Road Shoes are £329.99 – and have laces rather than dials.
You can find good shoes for a lot less, though, such as Shimano's RC7 road shoes, which scored well and are priced at £189.99. And Steve liked Northwave's Revolution 3s, which are only 12 on the stiff-o-meter but £188.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, after wearing them in for a few weeks.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – although there's a lot of competition at this price point.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, these are very good shoes. They are very stiff, making for great power transfer, and the dual dials are excellent for getting a secure fit. It took a while for the shoes to wear in but were comfortable after that. They're a touch heavier than the competition.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Roubaix My best bike is: Cervelo S3
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Indoor