PRODUCT TEST: NORTHWAVE OUTCROSS PLUS SHOES

Big performance without the big price

Northwave is an Italian company that began crafting mountain bike shoes in 1993. The company is best known for making top-quality cross-country shoes; however, over the years, it has produced shoes to satisfy riders from all disciplines. Northwave shoes have been seen on the feet of legendary mountain biker Cedric Gracia and on Tour De France road racer Tom Boonen. Northwave makes high-performance shoes for riders at the pinnacle of their sport; however, they also make shoes for weekend warriors and everyday trail riders seeking top-level performance at an approachable price. Northwave’s recent shoe, the Outcross Plus, looks to target those riders.

Tech Features: The Outcross Plus is designed for trail riders who want a balance between performance and comfort. These shoes feature Michelin rubber soles for great traction off the bike and have stiff mid-soles to provide cross-country performance. Northwave uses its own Speed Lace Winch closure system, along with two Velcro straps, to secure the Outcross Plus to a rider’s foot. The shoes have an integrated heel system to ensure efficient heel retention, and the upper part of the shoe is reinforced with a thermo-welded protection layer to help prevent injury when coming in contact with rocks or branches. These shoes are available in European sizes from 36 to 47 and sell for $140. Our size-44 test shoes weighed 984 grams for the pair with cleats installed. northwave.com

Field Test Results: We placed SPD cleats on the bottoms of our Outcross Plus shoes and paired them with Shimano XT Race pedals. The closure system took our test riders a minute or two to figure out, but, once we had it down, our testers could toss these shoes on in a hurry. Our riders with wider feet found the Outcross Plus shoes fit them really well. They feel much more like a tennis shoe than a cross-country shoe. On the bike, the shoes have a fairly stiff sole that transfers power well, although some hard-core cross-country racers may want a little more. Off the bike, the soles have great traction and are easy to hike in. The closure system kept our feet secure throughout our testing and gave us no reason to reach down and tighten the shoes. For a shoe in this price range, the Outcross Plus offers impressive quality and should hold up for at least a few hard seasons of riding. Trail riders looking for a value-driven, performance shoe that works well on or off the bike need look no further than Northwave’s Outcross Plus.

Hits:

• Budget-friendly

• Comfortable fit

• Great traction off the bike

Misses:

• Not ideal for cross-country riders


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