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Northwave Extreme RR XFrame Cycling Shoe Review (2018)

Northwave Extreme RR XFrame Cycling Shoe Review (2018)

Ever since attending Interbike last year, I have been trying to get a pair of the Northwave Extreme RR XFrame Cycling Shoes to review.  Today they showed up at my door step unannounced.  I had sort of written off getting a pair, but then all of a sudden they arrived.  Christmas in March!

Northwave Extreme RR X-Frame Cycling Shoes 2018 A

Olaf gets a little excited every time a package arrives, especially if it is from Italy.

Northwave Company History

Northwave LogoNorthwave hails from Northern Italy not too far from Venice.   The company got it start in 1993 when Gianni Piva launched their bi-color Integral mountain bike shoes, the first shoes produced by Northwave.

Since then Northwave has been producing excellent cycling shoes, apparel and accessories.  I can remember back in the late 90’s seeing Northwave cycling shoes for triathlon.  I never had a pair, but they always seem rather cool with their Italian flair.

In 2016 Northwave launched their XFrame line and now has introduced the the Xtreme RR.

The goal of the XFrame construction was to design a shoe’s retention system that would eliminate pressure point issues occurring on the upper part of the foot.

Northwave Extreme RR XFrame Cycling Shoe Review

Northwave Extreme RR Cycling Shoes

The Extreme RR cycling shoes are housed in a great looking shoe box

I don’t know why, but Italians always seem to know how to use colors with the proper amounts of detail and graphics.

Extreme RR Cycling Shoe XFrame Shoe Bag

Extreme RR Cycling Shoe XFrame Shoe Bag. Not sure how many cycling shoe bags actually get used. I tend to throw them away or used them for other purposes.

Each Extreme RR cycling shoes come with a mesh shoe bag and 2 sets of shoe footbed inserts.  The footbeds have a  stiffened dual density design and come in a Pro Regular Fit and Pro Slim Fit (features an extra 2 mm toe insert for narrow feet).  I prefer the Pro Regular Fit, since my feet aren’t narrow.

The shoes seem true to size and I have had zero fitting issues.  I have read some reviews where people feel the shoes are a bit too narrow, but for me I didn’t have that problem.

Extreme RR Cycling Shoes

The Extreme RRs come with an extra set of shoe inserts and a shoe bag.

Northwave Extreme RRs come in 3 flavors, Neon Yellow with black highlights, Black with Neon Yellow highlights and White with Red highlights.  Our shoes arrived in the Black with a Neon Yellow highlight color pallet.

While the Neon color scheme isn’t bad and probably is more visible on the road, I would like to see a few other color combos that are more subdued.

The shoes are made with Northwave’s Xframe patented construction and an ultralight material that is 0.5 mm thick.

Northwave Extreme RR Cycling Shoes 2018

Here is a closer look at the Extreme RRs.

Northwave Extreme RR Directions

The shoes came with 2 tags that tell you how to use the dials. I found the dials a bit more complicated than BOAs.

Northwave Extreme RR Propriety Dials

Northwave Propriety Dials.

Extreme RR SLW2 Dial2 System

One thing that will become quite evident is the Extremes don’t come equipped with a BOA closure system.  Instead Northwave uses their own proprietary SLW2 dials and synthetic XFrame lacing system.  Vittoria was another cycling shoe company that had their own dials, but last year switched to the BOA system for their high end shoes.

After playing around with the SLW2 dials, I found them pretty easy to use, but not as easy as the new BOA systems, especially the new IP1 dials that are on cycling shoes like the PEARL IZUMI P.R.O. LEADER V4.

The downside to BOA’s IP1 is they have a higher profile and maybe are less aero compared to the SLW2s low profile layout.  Probably not a big deal, but something to consider.

While most high end cycling shoes I have reviewed have 2 adjustment dials, the Extreme RRs come with a single dial.  Having a single dial means that you can’t make as many micro adjustments to your fit, but after trying them on, I didn’t find I needed to make any additional adjustments.  If you prefer the performance of a dual dial shoe instead, the Northwave “Extreme” comes with 2 dials and a velcro strap.

Northwave Extreme

The XFrame lacing system seems to contour to the foot providing a ton of security and stability.  With the uppers only being .5mm thick, it almost feels like you’re not wearing a cycling shoe.  Very comfortable.

Extreme RR Cycling Shoes SPD and SpeedPlay Compatible

The shoes are SPD and SpeedPlay compatible.

Northwave Extreme RR Carbon Soles

The bottoms of the Extremes are made from an Ultralight Carbon 15 sole, which includes unidirectional carbon combined with a reinforced layer.   Northwave gives the shoes a stiffness index of 15.0, making it their best-performing and stiffest Northwave sole ever.

I am not sure how Northwave comes up with their stiffness index, but using the Extremes during out of the saddle bouts I felt extremely secure with zero flex.

The shoes are both SPD and Speedplay adapter compatible providing a very low stack height between the foot and pedals.

Northwave Extreme RR Full Carbon Bottom

As with most top end cycling shoes, the Extreme RRs have full carbon soles.

Extreme RR Heel Retention System

The shoes have some type of shark like skin material in the heel to help keep it secure.

These are the 2nd pair of cycling shoes I have tested that come with a shark like skin material in the heel.  The Integrated heel system contains directional fiber which helps prevent any heel slipping and from my experience definitely works.

Extreme RR Cycling Shoe Bag

The Extreme RRs hanging out in the Northwave cycle shoe bag

I know shoe bags are sort of cool, but I never seem to use them for my cycling shoes.  I end up using them for socks or other clothing items.

Northwave Shoe Logo

Northwave Shoe Logo and XFrame lacing system

Alexander Kristoff Getting His Own Extreme RRs

I always like getting a chance to see inside shoe companies and checkout their facilities and the people that work there.  Alexander Kristoff got a chance to get some custom Extreme RR shoes with custom colors.  I really like the final product.

Northwave Extreme RR Technical Specifications

  • Ultralight Carbon 15 sole made of 100% unidirectional carbon combined with a reinforced layer. With a stiffness index of 15.0, it’s the best-performing Northwave sole ever
  • NW Speedplay adapter compatible for the lowest stack height between foot and pedal
  • Made with Xframe® patented construction and ultralight next generation materials that are only 0.5 mm thick, the upper transfers every watt of power and provides the snuggest, even fit with no pressure points
  • SLW2 dial, the only one with step-by-step and full release in a single button
  • Integrated heel system containing directional fibre prevents any slipping
  • Includes two footbeds with a stiffened dual density design: Pro Regular Fit and Pro Slim Fit which features an extra 2 mm toe insert for narrow feet
  • Ultralight at just 220 g!
  • Retail Price : $395.00

Bottom Line – Northwave Extreme RR XFrame Cycling Shoes

The Northwave Extreme RR shoes are extremely comfortable and their performance is top notch.  The combination of the XFrame and a single dial makes the shoes wickedly simple to use and wear.  For those who are looking for a bit more adjustability, you may prefer a dual dial system.  That said, I didn’t feel the need for additional adjustability that a dual dial would provide.

I did find the SLW2 dials a bit more complicated than BOA’s IP1s and I am wondering if sometime in the future Northwave might make a switch to the BOA system like Vittoria has done.

Sizing can be a problematic sometimes when ordering cycling shoes online.  If you don’t have a chance to try them on first, you’re never quite sure of the sizing.  I found the Extreme’s, at least for me to fit true to size.  If I had to choose, I would choose a 1/2 size bigger rather than a 1/2 smaller.  If your feet are really wide, the Extreme RR probably isn’t the ideal shoe for you as it runs a bit narrow.  Northwave does offer a wide version of the Extreme with a dual closure system that should work.

The retail price for the shoes is $395, but I have seen it for as low as $300.  Local availability might be an issue, at least it was for me, with no stores carrying Northwave products near by.  For those who like shopping Amazon and have Prime, you can pick them up under retail with free shipping.

Overall the XFrame design a winner and you will be impressed with it’s great fitting properties.

You can Find the Northwave Extreme on Amazon.

Northwave Extreme rr 2018

Check out Northwave’s website for the Northwave Extreme and all their great cycling products.

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About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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