I’m an addict. There isn’t a 12-step program or prescription in existence that can help me. The only cure to my ailment involves my hands grasping the bars, my feet secured to the pedals, and dirt beneath my tires. The other week, as I joyously gallivanted through the woods on my steel horse getting my fix, I passed an old section of trail. That old section of trail got the wheels in my head turning. I used to ride that section of trail nearly 20 years ago when my dad first took me mountain biking as a kid. Most people my age have no idea how much the sport of mountain biking has changed and evolved. Those loose, washed out, rocky, gravel trails that charge straight up and over hills are a thing of the past. They have given way to new trails that twist, wind, and turn in a smooth yet technical manner, effectively utilizing terrain to the fullest extent.
Gianni Piva launched his first MTB shoe under the Northwave brand in 1993 after extensive research and development in the sport shoe industry. The first shoe dubbed the Integral would transition the traditional black cycling shoe to a thing of the past just like those loose gravel hills. The new era of shoes are as colorful as the new sections of trail. The first shoe would come in red and yellow, the company’s colors. Northwave shoes would soon be donned by some of the world’s leading racers such as Paola Pezzo and Alessandro de Bertollis. The latest top of the line Northwave shoes, the Extreme Tech MTB, are worn by the likes of world champion racers José Antonio Hermida Ramos and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.
The Extreme Tech employs all of Northwave’s latest technologies. The shoe features ultralight construction with microinjected reinforced protection from branches, rocks, or other debris. Speedlight carbon 3-D soles offer excellent power transfer and rubber studs provide traction when it is impossible to pedal. The extreme air footbed is well vented, ultralight, anallergenic, and antibacterial. The SBS instep strap and speedlace winch closing system allow for precise pressure adjustment when strapping up. The shoe is offered in matte black, black and white, as well as green and orange.
When I began looking for a new pair of shoes to replace my Sidi Dominators I wanted something different – something that I wouldn’t see on the feet of ten other guys lining up at the next race or on a Sunday ride. I first saw Northwave shoes at a Pro XCT event several years ago. The sleek styling and flashy colors caught my eye. Now the proud owner of a pair of Extreme Techs, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I quickly fell in love with the strap and lace systems. The strap has a button that allows for micro-adjustments on the fly and the speedlace system cinches up in a snap making it easy to get the perfect pressure even while on the bike. The carbon sole is incredibly stiff, which in turn makes it ultraefficient. The extreme air footbed is incredibly comfortable, and the multiple vents keep my feet cool and feeling fresh even on long, epic rides.
The shoe wore in quickly. Minimal stitching means less opportunity for blowouts at the seams. The price point on this shoe is excellent as well, as it’s not uncommon to pay another $200 for similar quality and technology from other manufacturers. And design wise, the shoes look ridiculously hot. Though they may not make me ride as fast as Ramos, they make me feel like I do!
If you’re looking for an ultralight, high-end, stylish shoe the Extreme Tech will not fail you. This shoe gives you exactly what you would expect from an Italian shoe-maker: comfort, quality, style, and performance, with the only thing missing being the high price tag. In addition to shoes, Northwave also offers a line of clothing, glasses, and snowboarding gear, with some of my other favorite Northwave MTB Gear in the slideshow below . As for the Extreme Tech, they are on top of the podium.
Check the photo gallery below for the rest of my favorite picks from Northwave that are perfect for Fall riding.