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When tyre manufacturing giant Michelin first branched out to produce soles for cycling shoes, Northwave was their exclusive client. Since then, Michelin has gone on to supply various brands with their robust, high-traction soles.
While Northwave continues to utilise Michelin rubber, 2022 sees them expand their options to once again include Vibram soles on certain all-mountain models.
Vibram needs little introduction in mountain biking circles; along with Michelin they’re recognised as being market leaders when it comes to producing super grippy soles that are matched to specific off-road requirements, whether it’s clipless or flat pedal riding.
With both options at their disposal, Northwave can cherry-pick the sole technology that best suits a particular application.
Performance-wise there are no clear-cut winners, but the construction of the Vibram models does lead to a lighter shoe, which is generally advantageous for longer rides that involve lots of pedalling or climbing.
Both absolutely kill it when it comes to grip, so the move is all about opening up the options within the Northwave range. Utilising the Fort Augustus Vibram sole, the Overland Plus is one of the more distinctive models in the Northwave all-mountain range.
It combines a high-traction outsole with an EVA midsole that keeps the weight down while enhancing shock absorption. The uppers are formed from a tough rip-stop fabric and utilise a twin closure system that combines their SLW3 dial with a large velcro strap to secure the upper arch. The Overland Plus retails for around $259.
When it comes to flat pedal traction, Vibram has an enviable reputation. The new Multicross employs the Vibram Fort William sole and it’s built to grip like there’s no tomorrow. The uppers feature thermo-welded construction to minimise bulk and the large areas of mesh work to keep the shoe light and airy.
Traditional laces also help to keep the weight down, making the Multicross as happy on a trail ride as it would be taking in some summer-time DH runs. Retailing for $189, it’s also very affordable for a top-quality Vibram equipped shoe.
Featuring a Vibram Wolftrax sole, the $199 Rockit is one of the most versatile shoes in the Northwave range. The lace-up design delivers casual styling for touring or commuting while the lugged sole offers traction in all off-road situations, whether it’s wet or dry. Rip-stop fabric also adds toughness, making them well-suited to bikepacking and back-country riding.
At this stage the 2022 trail/all-mountain range features three Vibram equipped models and six with a Michelin sole. It’s a comprehensive line-up that covers all facets of off-road riding; there’s even a GoreTex lined model – the X-Trail Plus GTX – that promises to deliver all-weather comfort without excessive weight or bulk.
For more information on the Northwave range, get in touch with BikeSportz or head to their B2B site: https://b2b.bikesportz.com.au/B2B