Two Italian shoes go foot to foot
The European shoe companies have always been renowned for their handmade qualities. Maybe it stems from their pride and heritage, or maybe it comes from their passion for the sport. One thing is certain: they are good at building high-quality shoes that perform just as well as they look. We take a look at two shoes with very different designs and from two companies that have a very different history—the Sidi Shot and the Northwave Extreme RR.
SIDI SHOT: THE TECH
The Sidi Shot is the newest addition to the Italian brand’s legacy of high-performance road shoes. The Shot marks Sidi’s first attempt at losing the top strap (instep closure) and relying solely on a pair of their proprietary Tecno-3 dial closures. Both dials are connected on a common base mounted on the tongue of the shoe. It has the same push dials, with the release of tension for the top dial at the top of the system and the bottom dial release is at the bottom. The rear reflex adjustable-heel retention system is unchanged from the Wire with the two screw-style adjustments and three reflective lenses (one on each side and the last on the rear).
The Shot’s upper uses a Microfibra Techpro material that offers great stability, lightness, water-repellency and is also eco-friendly. There are a few mesh openings added on each side and on the top of the toe box for added ventilation over the Wire. The sole is unchanged using the same vents as the Wire with its integrated air channels. It also features the replaceable anti-slip heel pad. The Shot is currently not offered in the mega size; instead, only the standard last is available.
The Shot offers the same quality build that Sidi is renowned for. The dual dial system does, however, change the way the shoe closes and feels across the top of the foot. The new system relies on a new thicker-padded tongue and a much more even pull of the shoe to the center of the foot.
We have always found that on-the-fly adjustment to be a bit awkward with their Techno dial system, especially if you push the lever down so that it’s flush. The real difference is now that the dials are centered and connected, a full release to remove your foot is very easy. You can still tighten and loosen both the top and bottom zones of the shoe separately, but the design seems to be targeting a full release.
The shoes offer great stiffness and support as we would expect from a top-tier shoe. The overall comfort combined with the adjustable heel retention means your foot stays secure without needing to tighten the shoe till it cuts off circulation. This means happy feet and more power, and who doesn’t want to capitalize on a combination of power and comfort?
One huge improvement that we really like is that the Shots were ready to ride right out of the box. With the loss of the old top strap, there’s no need for cutting for correct sizing. Plus, the new system is very easy to replace the cables and dials on your own in case of cleaning or damage. Overall, it’s evident that Sidi has been listening to their riders, customers and their critics by now offering a shoe that is more user-friendly but still delivers on the prestige of the Sidi name.
- A racing and winning legacy like no other
- On-the-go adjustments at your own risk
- Premier fit and finish at a premier price.
- Price: $549.99
- Weight: 636 grams
- Sizes: 40–48 (whole sizes), 40.5–46.5 (half sizes)
Northwave Extreme RR: THE TECH
The Northwave Extreme RR has a unique closure system that is both minimalistic but packed with technology. To start, the upper is made of an ultra-thin synthetic material that easily forms to the foot and has a suede texture. The material has a rigid characteristic and is reinforced with nylon ribbons that run in X patterns just under the outside layer. These are specifically arranged throughout the shoe, and just a loop of each protrudes from the outside layer where the flexible Dyneema retention cable runs through. There are 12 nylon loops that the closure cable is laced through between the two upper sections, all feeding back to a single SLW2 dial. The dial sits low on the outside of the shoe, while the inside upper extends over the top of the foot and over a portion of the outside upper. This immerses the foot and creates a layered closure that nearly eliminates hot spots caused by wires on uppers and heavy tension.
The SLW2 dial is easily tightened with a twist, then features a two-way release. If you push on the release lever, it loosens by one click at a time, but if you pull the lever up, it quickly and easily releases completely. The Northwave also uses a reinforced heel cup with gripping material. The fiber orientation of this material allows for easy entry but also holds the heel in place.
The new Ultralight Carbon 15 sole features seven vents for cooling on hot days. The Extreme RR comes with both a standard and high-volume (for narrow feet) footbed.
There is a significant difference between the two footbeds, and we would recommend using the high-volume version only if you have narrow feet. The retention dial is very easy to use, and after understanding the release lever on the bike, adjustments are precise and easy. With only one cable you would think the tension is hard to get perfect, but with the unique overlapping design and lacing pattern of the fabric cable, the shoe nearly molds to your foot.
The cable was a bit short for us, and getting our foot into the overlapping opening was a bit tight. We can overlook this, though, because the way it immerses your foot without the need of excessive tension is unlike other shoes. We had no hot spots at all, as the tension pulls over the top of the foot and along the outside.
The stiffness is very good, and after multiple hours we had no foot fatigue. Even with long out-of-the-saddle efforts, the sole showed no sign of deflection. The ample amount of ventilation kept our feet cool and comfortable the entire ride. However, the flip side is if it’s cold and you’re trying to keep warm, you might need to get a bit of tape and cover at least a few of the openings.
Overall, the Extreme RR is a very light shoe that still offers superb stiffness and comfort. The minimalistic aesthetic is also well received and will be a staple in the RBA closet. The added option of a Speedplay-specific adapter that can lower the mounting point means that no matter what pedal system you choose, you get the shortest distance from foot to pedal. The shoe feels secure and stiff due to the way it encases the foot, while the material remains still supple.
- Unique and simple aesthetic
- Entry and exit of the shoe is a bit tight
- Stiff, light, comfortable and well ventilated—what else do you need?
- Price: $399.99
- Weight: 460 grams
- Sizes: 36–48 (whole sizes), 39.5–45.5 (half sizes)
Both Sidi and Northwave are delivering high-end shoes but in very different styles. Both offer new and unique closures using cable and dial tension systems. Most of the changes that have been implemented to the Sidi Shot are on the upper, with the sole remaining unchanged. The Northwave Extreme RR takes a different approach to the design of their upper and improves on the sole’s stiffness at the same time. The Extreme RR is very light and offers great support for the foot throughout the entire shoe. The Shot has removed many of the flaws that we were not fans of in the past, but the close location of the dial to each other is not what we would consider ideal. The rest of the shoe is exactly what we have come to expect from Sidi—top-notch. The rear heel retention is flawless, and the build quality, as always, is superb. The Shot is a great improvement for Sidi, and it’s hard to improve on a shoe that is a top choice for so many.
For the weight weenies out there, the Northwave would be a top pick, because unlike many other lightweight competitors, the Extreme RR doesn’t sacrifice comfort or upper support.