For cyclists that want to ride like a pro but don’t have a pro sponsorship to cover the cost of gear, the Northwave Extreme GT 2 shoes are an attractive option. Northwave has incorporated the innovative XFrame 2 construction and dual SLW3 dial setup from the Extreme Pro shoes into the more affordable $249.99 Extreme GT 2 shoes. To achieve the lower price point, the shoes feature a Morph Carbon 12 AAS Sole with a 100% carbon center plate. As with other Northwave shoes, the soles can be used with 3-bolt cleats and Look Memory Tab system as well as Speedplay 4-bolt cleats with an optional adapter. Perforations on the upper material combined with three vents on the sole also provide airflow through the shoes. Despite the Italian design, the Extreme GT 2 shoes forgo the traditional bright color schemes for a sleek anthracite / silver reflective finish or black color schemes in the North America market.
The Northwave Extreme GT 2 shoes provide pro level stiffness and performance at a more accessible price point.
|Measured Weight (in g)||606 (EUR 43.5)|
|Likes||+ Stiff carbon sole|
+ Dual dial closure system allows for fine tuning
+ Reflective finish provides safety and unique look
|Dislikes||– Limited color options|
– Stiff upper material can be uncomfortable around ankle
– SLW3 Dials are less intuitive than BOA dials
|Where to Buy (US)||Northwave|
The shoes come packed in a simple cardboard shoe box with simple Northwave graphics printed on the exterior. Unlike most shoes that come wrapped in tissue to prevent scratches from rubbing against each other, the Northwave box has a cardboard divider down the center that provides the same result. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Extreme GT 2 cycling shoes
- 2x Look Memory Eyelet Screws
- Basic tags
We’d recommend using the Look Memory Eyelet screws (see our guide on how to use them) as they are easy to lose and prevent the bolt head from sliding inside the shoes.
FIT & FINISH
Despite the shoes having “extreme” as a part of the product name, the Extreme GT 2 shoes have a restrained visual design. There are no overstyled elements or bright graphics on the shoe. Instead the shoes have a one-piece wrap-around design upper that utilizes Northwave’s XFrame 2 construction. This allows Northwave to conceal the structure of the shoe inside the 0.5mm thin upper material for a clean appearance. Branding is limited to Northwave logos along the outer sides of the shoes. With the reflective silver anthracite / silver reflective of our shoes, the logos are printed in a glossy gray print along with a few rectangular stripes for some visual contrast.
Unlike the Bont Cycling Vaypor S shoes which have a complete reflective finish, the Northwave Extreme GT 2 shoes are only reflective on portions of the shoe. The rear heel section is fully reflective while a small portion of the front toe box also has the reflective treatment. With the gray color scheme, the reflective portions blend in and also provide color fade like finish on the front portions of the shoes. Although shoes like the Shimano S-PHYRE and the Scott RC SL Supersonic will attract more attention with their flashy finishes, for those looking for a more euro look, the Northwave shoes are a better option.
Also, given the fact that Northwave was an early adopter of Speedplay cleats it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Extreme GT 2 shoes also have 4 bolt slots in addition to standard 3 bolt locations. To use the Speedplay cleats with the shoes, you need to install an adapter from Northwave by cutting through marked locations on the shoe. Although it requires additional work, the Northwave adapter shaves an additional 3mm from the stack height compared to the 3 bolt-to-4 bolt adapter that comes with the Speedplay cleats.
Despite the more affordable price point of the Extreme GT 2 shoes, Northwave has integrated a dual SLW3 dial closure system. These are the latest version of Northwave’s in-house dial systems and offer micro adjustments for increasing and reducing tension. Unlike the more ubiquitous BOA dials which are limited to rotations or pull to release, the Northwave SLW3 dials use a combination of rotating the main dial and a side button. Tightening is done by rotating the dials for incremental increases of the tension. Depressing the side button allows for micro adjustments while pulling up on the button does a full tension release.
Although the system isn’t nearly as intuitive to use as the latest BOA Li2 dials found on the Shimano S-PHYRE RC9 shoes, it works well on the road. Compared to the alternative ATOP dials found on more affordable shoes such as the FLR F-XX that only offer micro tightening adjustments, the SLW3 offer more flexibility and fine tuned control. One thing to note is that the full release isn’t the same as either BOA or ATOP dial as you need to hold the button up to keep tension off which is less convenient when putting the shoes or taking them off. Otherwise, the dual zone setup and wrap around uppers keep your feet firmly in place.
With the dual dial setup and one piece wrap-around upper construction, it should come as no surprise that the Extreme GT 2 shoes provide an excellent fit. We found it easy to adjust the dials to tune the fit and appreciate the anatomical toe box which is wider than other Italian shoes like SiDIs and DMT KR3, and more similar to the Bont Cycling Vaypor S with its more blunt shape. We do recommend being careful with sizing as we found the EUR 43.5 to fit better than the EUR 43 the sizing chart recommended based on our foot measurements. Even though Northwave has incorporated padding along the front lip of the ankle opening, we found the material was stiff and would cause pressure points. As with any shoe, we recommend trying the shoes on in-person to ensure they work with your foot shape.
Northwave doesn’t provide much information about the Morph 12 carbon soles which have a matte black finish. The soles have a two-piece design with a glossy 100% carbon insert at the cleat mounting location. Even though the soles only have a stiffness index of 12 compared to the 15 of the Pro version of the shoes, they are more than stiff enough for sprints or long rides (Note: stiffness index is not standardized and varies company to company). On the bike, the shoes allow for direct power transfer to the pedals without any flexing or pressure points at the cleat attachment location. Lastly, we couldn’t tell the two-piece sole design apart from the more expensive one-piece design of higher-end shoes.
Overall, we found the Northwave Extreme GT 2 shoes to offer impressive performance and value. The combination of the stiff carbon fiber sole and dual dial closure system is rare to see at this price point and typically reserved for $300+ shoes. Although the Northwave specific SLW3 dial + side button setup isn’t as intuitive to use as BOA dials, they provide micro adjustments for both tightening and loosening which we appreciate for longer rides. Performance on the bike also matches pro-level shoes with a stiff sole and anatomical shape that is comfortable even on all-day rides. The main negatives for the shoe is the fact that color schemes are limited to the reflective or black finish and that XFrame 2 material is a bit stiff around the ankle opening. That aside, we found that the Northwave Extreme GT 2 shoes do actually provide pro-level performance without the hefty price tag.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Northwave. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.