Here's one for the cross-country crowd. Northwave's new Ghost XC shoe uses the Italian's XFrame system, which is their name for how the shoe's upper is constructed and the material used. First put to use on their Extreme RR road kicks, the company says that it consists of ''inner mesh for increased comfort, a stiffened mid layer for even support through the support, and a 0.5mm highly wear-resistant outer film for protection.'' The point of all that is to eliminate hot spots, an annoying and often painful occurrence for some riders, and Northwave says that another key to that is the application of even pressure over the top of the foot, despite using one SLW2 dial per shoe instead of two.
The single SLW2 dial adjusts fit, and they've also gone with 'Dyneema' rather than steel for the wire, with the claim being that the Dyneema material won't stretch but is softer than the steel cable used on their other shoes.
Being made for pure cross-country racing, Northwave has pared off any needless material, but there are still some rubber scuff guards to protect both your expensive shoes and your feet. The underside of the Ghost XC shoe is made from carbon fiber, of course, and, when I tried to bend the shoe with my hands, it felt more rigid than the Queen of England's dinner table rules.
Oh, and these boots aren't made for walking - there's very little in the way of lugs on the bottom of the Ghost XC shoe. The race-focused, 330-gram Ghost XC shoe has a $399.99 USD price tag, and there are two color options: the ultra-visible yellow/black fluro pictured here, or a more subdued version that has the colors reversed.
Feeling sporty but not ready to drop $399.99 USD? I feel you on that, which is where the Ghost XCM comes in. At $249.99 USD, they're still not inexpensive by any stretch, but they'll save you a good chunk of money compared to the pricier top-tier kicks. The penalty is a whopping 20-grams per shoe compared to the Ghost XC, along with a simplified sole that uses a carbon insert under the ball of the foot rather than the full-carbon treatment.
While the carbon content is lower, the XCM still features the same XFrame design and single SLW2 dial, as well as the same color options.
I prefer to stay inside and eat my feelings during the winter, but if you're a better person than me, you might be interested in Northwave's toasty looking Yeti shoe. This high-top shoe sports a leather upper that's had a water-repellent coating applied to it, an extra tall cuff to keep the elements out, and also a bunch of Thinsulate padding used liberally. Cold can creep in up through the sole and cleat, so Northwave has also given the Yeti a four-layer Arctic GTX footbed to keep that to a minimum, and all that adds up to a weather rating of -20c or up to +3c, but I'd bet they'd be pretty toasty in any temps above that. It also adds up to a $279 USD price tag, too.