Northwave Extreme RR shoes review

Northwave has been in the game a long time and and does things a little differently – will the Extreme RR shoes perform?

Northwave Extreme RR
(Image credit: Cycling Studio)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Northwave Extreme RR shoes are a dazzling pair of booties. They work well and have great levels of stiffness. I feel that one dial is limiting in terms of fit and, although not bad, it could be better.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Carbon sole is stiff and supportive

  • +

    No pressure from the pedals through the sole

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Frustrating quick-release system

  • -

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The Northwave Extreme RR has been with us for a few years now, but since our last test in 2017 the price has been hiked to £319.99, from £294.99. Are you getting any more?

>>> Best cycling shoes for 2018

Well, you still get the same shoe, so lets blame a strong euro and a messy Brexit for that one... but as a whole the Northwave Extreme RR isn’t a bad shoe.

In the looks department it really was 50/50 it terms of love/hate. I liked them and so did some of my peers but an equal amount didn’t like the looks. The white with red stripes could be seen as a little old fashioned now – when I say that, I mean 2010! Although these are typically Italian, right? You of course can get them in lime green or black if you prefer.

Northwave says that these have a stiffness rating of 15, which it says is the best-performing shoe it has made. Without a reference point we can’t be sure what that number equates to, but I found the RRs to be true to their word and provided a good, solid platform.

Northwave Extreme RR

The dial is a nice idea but a little frustrating
(Image credit: Cycling Studio)

The 100 per cent unidirectional carbon feels planted and is comparable to the likes of the Sidi Shots in terms of stiffness. However, Northwave has done a good job at keeping the stack height relatively low and according to my rough measurements it is under 10mm.

Northwave says here that the Speedplay compatibility means you should have the lowest stack height possible when using this system of any shoe. I didn’t test this but it is a nice touch.

The Northwave Extreme RR shoes come with one dial – this is Northwave's own SLW2 and although I liked the Italian brand's thinking, it just isn’t as good as the latest Boa system. It is better than Sidi’s, though.

I found the dial to be too close to the shoe and it was annoying to tighten. The button does give you the incremental release of a full quick-release function, which is good, although having that, a one-and-only dial brings its limitations.

For fit Northwave uses what it calls XFrame technology, which could be likened to the new Fizik Infinito system.

Northwave Extreme RR

Carbon sole is very good indeed
(Image credit: Cycling Studio)

It works very well and secures the foot nicely without pressure points, although where the Fiziks have two dials the Northwaves just have the one, so the fit could be even better in my mind.

One limitation to this system is that it is annoyingly tight to get your foot in and out of the shoe, despite the retention system releasing all the way. Another is that I had to use the Pro Slim fit sole (two footbeds are included) to get a more secure fit. Usually I can run 42s no problem.

For a size 42 they weighed in at 243g (per shoe) which isn’t too bad – lighter than the Pearl Izumi Pro Leader V4's for example (267g for the same size) – and way lighter than the Sidi Shots, which sit at 287g!

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