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northwave team mtb shoes

Back in 2001, I decided to make the switch to clipless pedals. I researched shoes for a while and started looking for fancy, carbon fiber soled shoes that would make me ride super fast!

Not wanting to spend an arm and a leg, I browsed through Sierra Trading Post, and I was lucky enough to find something cool – the Northwave Team MTB shoes. These were supposedly the “team edition” shoe all the pros were wearing!

With a retail value of $220, I figured they’d be awesome. So I graciously parted with my $110 and picked them up (50% off deals at Sierra Trading Post aren’t uncommon).

It’s now summer of 2009, which means I’ve used the shoes for eight years! (I’m still using them, but their days are numbered.)


So let’s start with durability. Wearing the shoes for eight years of East Coast mountain biking sounds pretty good, but that’s not the whole story.

In 2004, after three hard seasons of XC riding and racing, the soles came off the shoe. Yep, the soles just detached from the rest of the shoe! I noticed it right after a tough XC race – my shoes felt like flip flops, so I looked down, and the sole was just hanging on by a thread. Luckily my feet stayed clipped in to the pedals!

The good news is that I could Shoe Goo the soles back to the shoe. It added a little extra weight, but it held the shoes together for another two years, when they started to separate again.

It wasn’t till the beginning of 2008 it got real bad (I had a few seasons off from mountain biking though). I Shoe Goo’d them together once again. And that’s why they still work today!

It’s pretty cool how you can get four more years of life from a pair of shoes thanks to two tubes of Shoe Goo!

[Note: If you read the reviews at MTBR.com, you’ll see many, many other people had the same issue with the soles. Fortunately, there are many different options when it comes to selecting your mountain biking shoes.]

The shoes held up great other than the soles falling off. But that’s to be expected from hard racing in places like Michaux State Forest near Carlisle, PA. The terrain is ridiculously rough and rocky!


northwave team mtb shoes

Now we can move on to more important things like style, which was simply awesome. I love the mismatched red and yellow design, especially when mated to my red and yellow bike.

These days, that bike is long gone, and the shoes are pretty much dead, so it’s time to move on to black shoes to match my new bikes.


As for comfort, the shoes ranked as “pretty good.” They were comfortable through three hour mountain bike races as well as six hour road rides.

They weren’t the epitome of comfort, though, especially with the crappy insole. Basically, they’re comfortable if you’ve never ridden in shoes that are more comfortable! After getting my Sidi Genius road shoes, I realized these Northwave shoes weren’t so spectacular.

Fit and Adjustment

Luckily they fit, because they were a tad narrow. While I normally wear a 46, these were a 45.5, so they had a snug fit for sure. They didn’t open very wide either, so it hurt my fingers pulling them on.

But once they were on my feet, everything fit fine, and I liked how the mesh panels conformed to my feet.

northwave team mtb shoes

Then I could use the Velcro straps to adjust the fit. The Velcro straps keep things simple, and they worked fine to keep my feet held securely. However, after years of mountain biking abuse, the Velcro is wearing out. Now the straps have a tendency to “unstick” when soaking wet, like during stream crossings.

Many modern shoes have a buckle top strap, since those tend to stay tight unless you re-adjust them on purpose. (The latest Northwave shoes for 2009 use a nice buckle top strap.)

Grip and Traction

Going back to the sole, the grip was good at first. I was able to get just enough traction on hike-a-bikes. Now it’s totally worn out, and the plastic toe spikes are shredded. They’re not replaceable like Sidi, so the shoes are no longer usable for race situations.

My final verdict is…

I didn’t like how the soles fell off, and these were never as comfortable as my nice Sidi road shoes, but for the price I paid, these worked out alright. (I got my money’s worth out of these shoes, thanks to Shoe Goo.)

I may consider Northwave again, since the new shoes look nice, but there are quite a few new shoes from Sidi, Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Specialized, and even Bontrager, so I would shop around and find ones that work perfect, before plunking down $100-300.

Official website: www.Northwave.com

Buy online at 50% off: www.SierraTradingPost.com

Product Review Details
Company: Northwave
Product: Northwave Team Mountain Bike Shoes
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2009-06-13
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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