Northwave Enduro Mid Shoe - Review

Jan 25, 2017
by Mike Levy  
Northwave shoes

Northwave is probably best known for their flashy cross-country shoes that practically scream ''My kicks are from Europe!'' thanks to the company's use of bright colors and their Italian heritage. In fact, there was even a time when a single pair of high-end Northwave shoes could be bought in opposing colors - nothing says 'fast' like feet that don't match, right? Right.

Their new $189.99 USD Enduro Mid shoe is a bit less flamboyant, but not by much, and incorporates extra protection and a dial-controlled lace system.
Enduro Mid Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• High inner cuff for ankle protection
• SLW2 dial and lace system
• Dual compound sole
• SPD-compatible
• Colors: blue/yellow fluo, camo/white/black, black/red
• Weight: 507 grams (size 42)
• MSRP: $189.99 USD

As the name suggests, the Enduro Mid has been designed to provide more protection than a lighter weight option. This includes a high inner cuff, reinforced toe box, and overall construction that leans more towards durability and versatility than weight savings. All told, a single Enduro Mid shoe in size 42 weighs 507 grams on my scale. For comparison's sake, Shimano's AM9 all-mountain shoe sports similar ankle protection and weighs 464 grams in a larger 45, while Giro's weather-resistant Terraduro Mid comes in at 527 grams in a 45.

Northwave shoes
Northwave shoes
The Enduro Mids weigh 507 grams per shoe in a size 42, and combines plenty of protection with a dial and lace enclosure system.

Northwave shoes
A single dial per shoe is used to adjust the tension of a lace enclosure.

Rather than employ more traditional laces or buckles, Northwave has put their SLW2 dial and lace system to use on the Enduro Mid. The SLW2 setup resembles a Boa system, with a single dial that adjusts the tension of the lace enclosure, but Northwave says their system was developed and patented entirely on their own. ''SLW2 is the only system on the market to allow step-by-step and complete opening through the use of only one button,'' the company claims, ''giving the opportunity to either tighten or widen the fit in an extremely quick and easy way. Push for micrometric release, lift to open the shoes completely: the work is done.'' The parts are also replaceable by anyone with a pint-sized hex key and a bit of patience.

To tighten the shoe, simply turn the dial so it winds the lace into itself, with each click adding 0.72mm of adjustment according to Northwave. To loosen the fit incrementally by the same amount, depress the small silver toggle on top of the assembly. Want to quickly release all of the tension? Lifting the same toggle will do exactly that.

If you're worried about damaging the SLW2 dial, Northwave includes protective rubber caps that clip over top for exactly that reason. A velcro strap runs across the upper section of the foot to allow for further adjustment.

Northwave shoes
Northwave shoes
Part tire, part shoe. Northwave partnered with Michelin to create a dual-compound sole.

We've seen a few shoe brands team up with tire companies to come up with soles that look more aggressive and, unsurprisingly, resemble a mountain bike tire. The bottom of the Enduro Mid shoe, which Northwave calls their 'X-Fire Michelin sole,' is said to take inspiration from the French company's Wild Dig’R and Country Rock tires, and it's made using two different compounds of rubber for the same reasons that you see two compounds employed on tires: more grip where it's needed, but more durability where it's required.

There's also quite a bit of fore/aft adjustment range for the cleats, more so than you'd find with most other shoes, and extra cushioning has been built into the heel area to provide added shock absorption.

Northwave shoes
Northwave's all-mountain shoes have stood up extremely well to terrible riding conditions.


The Enduro Mid shoes fit relatively roomy-ish for their size, which isn't a bad thing if you're looking for a pair of shoes with enough room to accomodate thicker socks if conditions warrant. The Enduro Mids are reasonably well vented, so while they're going to fare better in cold conditions compared to a shoe with enough mesh to not look out of place at a fetish convention, they're also not overly toasty. Something like Giro's weather-resistant Terraduro Mid is certainly better when the temps drop or there's a lot of moisture, but my feet would much rather be in the Enduro Mids if it's not freezing outside.

How a shoe fits is always going to be subjective, so telling you that the Enduro Mids are comfortable, which they are, isn't going to do as much as you going to try a pair on at your local shop. Go do that if you're interested in them, and you probably won't find any issues. The upper is a bit stiff when they're new, which is common for a shoe with all-mountain intentions, but it seemed to get a bit softer as they broke in over time.

As for the SLW2 dial and lace system, it does manage to apply equal feeling tension across the top of the foot, despite the fact that there's only a single dial compared to many other shoes that employ two. The dial is easy to use, especially when it comes to releasing a small amount of tension at a time, and they proved to be reliable and trouble-free once I ditched the silly protective covers that only seemed to make things more difficult. The covers have to be pulled up to give access to the dial when you need to add tension, but when they're put back into place they had a tendency to hit the release button, which was a bit annoying. They just clip on and are easily removable, so off they went.

Northwave shoes
Northwave shoes
The SLW2 dial and lace system is easy to use once you ditch the silly protective covers.

The Enduro Mids have literally only seen the worst type of southwestern B.C. riding conditions; constant rain and mud, a bunch of slushy snow, and plenty of grime and grit. No, it wasn't a great fall or winter as far as far riding goes, but the Northwave kicks have shown great durability. All that mud and grime helped to dull their flashy appearance, but it hasn't given the shoes any trouble, with not a single stitch or 'Thermowelded' joint looking any worse than when they came out of the box.

Their soles are also still looking decent, with little to no wear to report on other than some expected (and minor) marks from pedal pins doing their job. Granted, it's not like I've spent hours upon hours walking in them on the sandstone of Sedona or coral-like rocks of Lake Garda, but I'm still impressed by how the soles have held up. They also provide an impressive amount of traction when you're off the bike, especially in mud and slop, but they do feel a bit bulky to walk around in. There's a noticeable amount of flex in the soles compared to more performance oriented shoes, which helps matters when you're off the bike, but they're also not flexible enough to cause any hotspots at the bottom of a long descent.

As with any shoe of this type, a lot of potential buyers will be considering the Enduro Mids due to their extra protection compared to a lighter weight, slimmer clipless shoe. Their added ankle protection will be greatly appreciated by anyone who's had a crank arm say hello to their ankle bone, and the burly toe box feels sturdy enough to protect your piggies.

Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesThe best way to describe the Enduro Mids would be to call them versatile. They're not as toasty warm as some, and not as light as others, but they'll excel in the large majority of riding conditions without ever being too hot or not offering enough protection. - Mike Levy

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  • 49 1
 When you got an enduro at 8... But you got to dunk hoops at 9
  • 35 1
 Photographer: what we shooting today?
Pinkbike: Northwave shoes
Photographer: I'm gonna need mud
  • 22 1
 Got them in black/red, awesome shoes. They were my substitude for falling apart SH-M200s. They have some details, that are quite unique. The cleat channel goes way back, so you can actually run them Sam Hill style, if you fancy. First shoe where my cleats are not jammed back to max (make sure to not run them fully forward like in the pic, uhhh).
What is not really stressed in this review: They are by faaar the most comfy shoe for walking/hiking sections that I have ever tried. That is big deal in my mind. Also the cleat channel seems to be quite deep and together with their shape they offer the best support on DX I have ever felt. But they certainly are exceptionally wide, which can be borderline on slim feet. I fall into that category, but if you tighten them carefully, it it is OK.
Size wise most people including myself seem to run them one size down compared to Shimano, so closer to your street shoe size. I wear them the same size as my old pairs of 5.10 (Impacts, Ravens). Hope that was helpful.
  • 6 0
 That's a nice review man! Very useful insight and some references I can relate to. Very helpful especially regarding shape and sizing, pedal interface, cleat depth and channel length. Those details are Very important, and almost never covered in "reviews" as they seem to focus purely on the manufacturers marketable selling points like stiffness, performance, closure dial ratchet widget thingamabob and a few words about durability or lack thereof.
  • 2 0
 I'll second everything @Metacomet just said. Thanks for the additional feedback, especially that bit about the cleat channel! That is a HUGE plus for any shoe I'm considering. I wish more brands would do that on their mountain shoes--it just makes sense to me.
  • 7 1
 Photog: Hey, i have an idea. Lets stain the shoes with mud and take only closeups, so no one has an idea what they really look like?
Editor: Sounds awesome! Lets do it!
  • 10 3
 Damn, you run your cleats WAY forward.
  • 3 1
 Oops sorry man that was supposed to be a plus. Yeah I dont think I could even ride with cleats on my toes
  • 3 0
 Much better looking in the Black/Red. Been riding with mine for a few months now and love them. More support and protection than the Mavic Crossmax I'd been wearing. Durability so far has been excellent.
  • 4 0
 I have noticed that northwave always seem to send the silly colorways too reviews, normally far more extreme than these, as the reviewer mentioned they have a bit of a history of out there designs, but for years now they have always also offered black very plain versions in pretty much all models. I can't help but think a lot less people would actually look into them if they weren't put off by silly colors. I have been wearing plain black northwave escape evos for years now. By far the most comfortable mtb shoe I have tried on. Look clean and simple. And seem perfect for "enduro" yet they are basically marketed as a commuter shoe and cost half the price of all the others that I was initially expecting to buy.
  • 1 0
 @tomlynchwatson: must be the Italian shoe way. Sidi and others do similar
  • 2 0
 These shoes lasten me 3 months untill the SLW2 dial got ripper of the shoe. Send the shoe for warranty, after 3 weeks they came back with a service kit for the SLW2 dial. Northwave didn't even check what was broken, they would have seen that the complete SLW2 dial was ripped off the shoe. Lucky the shop sorted me out nice.
  • 1 0
 I had a pair that I thought were the best shoes I'd ever owned but the loop for the Velcro Strap broke after three months, I ended up with a credit back as CCR didn't have any more. I will say they were super comfortable but you should actually size down a bit as they seem to fit about 1/2 to 1 size to large, the traction when walking is excellent, the walking support too. As others have mentioned, the clear channel is extra long and extra deep, I had to add one shim under my cleats to more readily clip into my XT Trail pedals...FWIW, it seems maybe some of the early production shoes had some "weaker" material given those who've had problems have not experienced anymore after warranty replacement.
  • 1 0
 One thing the shoe makers haven't figure out yet - shoe glue that will work in South East Asia humidity. At least for these enduro types shoes. XC type has lasted me for years without fail. I've had brand new Specialized, Northwave, and Mavic shoes sole coming apart from the upper after a few times of use. Granted, it seems the shoes has been on the bike shop's storage for at least a year - but to fail in the first few times of use is bad. Warranty is nearly non-existent here, so off to the cobbler for a quick stitching that will make the thing last its lifetime. The other thing to go is the quickly and can't be fixed is the shoe rubber to cleat cover connection. Pack enough mud in there and it will detach easily. Looks like I'm going back to XC type shoes.
  • 2 1
 I love Northwave shoes they are so confortable and works great no slipping in the foot. The only bike shoes that are nore comfortable are my 2 pairs of 5/10.
This summer I was looking to a new shoes and tryed that shoes in Genova the feel of the shoes is amazing great fit. But that colour was not ny taste
  • 6 1
 $189 hahaha good luck selling those
  • 2 1
 I'm not saying I would pay $189 for these, but I do have to admit that I've spent much more than $189 on bike shoes (current S-works shoes).
  • 3 0
 Why do company insist on putting dials on the side of the shoe instead of the tongue........... nothing like putting your important plastic dial in an impact zone...........
  • 2 1
 I really like these new Enduro products coming out from companies. They are functional and help bridge the gap between typical trail riding and downhill shredding. In the past we had to choose between heavy and protective or just lightweight but not anymore.
  • 3 0
 maybe I am a Luddite but I don't care for the Boa or similar lacing systems. Just give me traditional laces or Velcro. I like stuff that can be repaired in the field.
  • 1 0
 Hey @mikelevy, what pedals did you run with these? (is that a crank bros cleat?) Did you need any cleat spacers or shoe modification? and how was the engagement, and was there any benefit or drawback with that particular combination? I'm looking at going back to clipless - maybe part time - after four years on flats, and these seem to be the only trail shoes that I can get to fit me properly (wide feet and weirdly long fingery toes). I'm open to options with pedals. Cheers for your help!
  • 1 0
 I have a pair of NW Enduro Mids and really liked them until after about 2 months the dial for the lace system detached from the shoe. Even worse after contacting NorthWave several times regarding the problem and they have no intention of trying to help fix the issue. They obviously do not stand behind their products and do not care about their customers. I understand and accept that there can be issues with a certain small percentage of shoes, but I cannot accept their total lack of customer service. I will never buy a pair of NW shoes again, and highly recommend other folks do not also.
  • 5 1
 Yeeaaaaaa nope.. but that's just me.
  • 3 2
 elle sont belles c'est tout... des chaussures vraiment pas solides, elles se sont dechirées au bout de 2 mois... elles sont conforatbles mais pas pour une utilisation enduro!
  • 4 0
 That cleat position though...
  • 1 0
 Love mine. On my second pair. First pair fell apart and had to be sent for warranty. 2nd is holding up. Super comfortable shoes. Perfect for Spring and Fall. A bit toasty for Summer.
  • 1 0
 Big thumbs up from me so far. I like my MAVIC Crossmax, but these seem a wee bit more durable, and bad weather friendly. Maybe not as warm and snug fit though. I went camo chic on the colour.
  • 2 1
 If you like wearing cinderblocks on your feet then buy these shoes! I use to sell them and felt guilty about every sale I made...
  • 1 1
 Nice review. I think a lot of riders are thinking of moving to ratcheting lace systems and Northwave makes several shoes with them. Not to mention that NWs are some of the least expensive options, once you start looking.
  • 1 0
 Iv always liked NW shoes. Id like to try these when they go on clearance sale.
  • 1 0
 I think the website must have changed very recently:
Much less hideous colorway and Yoann wears it better. Haha.
  • 3 1
 que feos
  • 2 1
 Bro. Those are so enduro. Like way more enduro than my last ones.
  • 1 0
 think ill stick with my shimano am45s...
  • 1 0
 Scored 2 pair for $35 each clearance sale Jenson USA. They are nice.
  • 2 2
 BOA is the best, I would buy BOA shoes in a second, way better than laces, I don't know why it never caught on.
  • 2 0
 it never caught on? I have trouble finding non-BOA clipless shoes.
  • 1 1
 @iantmcg: I recently tried the boa system on some road bike shoes, and now I wish I could find some good platform shoes with boa system for my mtb Smile
  • 1 1
 @evildos: I just picked up the specialized cliplite 2fo with boa and I really like it. Comes in clipless and flat versions, I have the clipless because my buddy has had that shoe for two seasons now and it has held up great. He is known for breaking everything he touches, so I have faith in the quality
  • 1 1
 @iantmcg: I was just thinking more in terms of BOA replacing ordinary laces for the average person. I've never seen any at Footlocker, or Sport Check, or normal shoe retailers here, and it works so well.
  • 1 0
 @BullMooose: Unfortunately, only the clipless version comes with boa system. Platform comes with laces. Feels bad man...
  • 1 0
 Thinking I'll stick to my flip flops
  • 1 0
 Anyone tried them as flat pedal option ?
  • 1 1
 Nice review Mr. Levy.

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