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
• 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. The Enduro Mids weigh 507 grams per shoe in a size 42, and combines plenty of protection with a dial and lace enclosure system. 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. 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's all-mountain shoes have stood up extremely well to terrible riding conditions.Performance
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. 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:
|The 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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