Lowdown: Northwave Enduro Mid Cédric Gracia Signature Shoe

Slap the enduro tag on a pair of mountain bike shoes and you're essentially claiming that they offer the best of all worlds. They must have stiff but walkable soles, bombproof foot and ankle protection, good venting, easy and variable fit adjustment, solid heel security, durability, and of course good looks. So how do the Cédric Gracia signature model Northwave Enduro Mid SPD compatible shoes measure up? Read on to find out.

Weight: 481 grams per shoe (size 43 tested)Available sizes: 38-46
Upper: Multilayer thermoweldedColors: Camo/white/black, blue/yellow, black/red
Sole: Dual compound X-Fire by MichelinPrice: $189
Closure: Speed Lace Winch 2 w/ protect coverRating:
3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
3.5 out of 5
Stat Box


Pluses

Minuses
  • Stiff soles
  • Wonky protective covers
  • Durable tread
  • Some delaminating
  • Durable upper
  • Poor stock insoles
  • Semi-micro adjust
  • Some dial looseness
  • Secure fit
  • Some stitch fraying
  • Ample space for cleat adjustment
  • Not super light
  • Easy full release
  • Comfy heel cushioning
  • Solid ankle protection
  • Secure heel hold
  • Reinforced toe box
  • Low profile dial
  • Good looks
  • Two-way dial operation (sort of)
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Comfortable to walk in
  • Great off-bike trail grip
  • Wide platform when out of pedals

Review: Northwave Enduro Mid Cédric Gracia Shoes

There is much to love, and a bit to loathe, when it come to evaluating the Cédric Gracia signature model Enduro Mid shoe from Northwave. The black/white camo design makes a statement without making too big a statement. Like Gracia himself, style and flair are backed by substance. In this case, protection is the name of the game.

Heel security is firm and there's extra cushion for those unexpected flat landings.

Heel security is firm and there's extra cushion for those unexpected flat landings.​

The Enduro Mid shoes have a reinforced toe box and taller inner cuff, which conspire to protect your feet from the inevitable rock smash or crank scrape. And during a summer's worth of testing in Crested Butte, Hartman Rocks, Lunch Loops, and Moab, there was plenty of smashing and scraping, but no blood, bruises, or bone breaks.

The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can't quite find your cleat.

The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can't quite find your cleat.​

It's a similarly positive story for the Michelin made rubber sole (dubbed X-Fire), which utilizes a dual compound design and a tread pattern borrowed from some of its mountain bike tires. The inner area is softer for better grip, but harder and more wear resistant toward the outside. The sole also has varying degrees of stiffness front to back, so the shoe pedals well, but is also reasonably comfortable to walk in. It's proven exceptionally durable, which is particularly impressive considering the amount of time during this test that I spent riding/walking on slickrock, which is essentially 24 grit sandpaper. Here's Cédric himself talking about the design process.


The real estate around the cleat is flat, making it easier to clip in and out, while also providing a landing zone for those times when you can't quite find your cleat. Additionally, the recessed cleat mounting area is larger than on many similar shoes, availing more cleat placement options both laterally and fore/aft.
Our test session included time in Moab and Colorado's rough and rowdy Western Slope.

Our test session included time in Moab and Colorado's rough and rowdy Western Slope.​

Security and closure are also well done. Rather than laces or oversized flaps, the Enduro Mid uses Northwave's Speed Lace Winch 2 system, where a thin dial tightens the tension on a cable lace. There's also a Velcro strap that runs across the top of the foot to help assure no unwanted foot slippage. It's basically a poor man's Boa dial set-up, which I say because unlike the newest Boa dials that spin/micro-adjust in both directions, the SLW2 does not spin backwards to loosens. Instead you have to press a button above the dial. Click it and tension is released in micro steps. Lift the button and pull the tongue and the closure loosens completely. Here's a video demo of the process on one of Northwave's XC shoes:


At this point you're probably wondering why these shoes didn't score better than a 3.5 out of 5. Well, No. 1 is that the included insole just didn't cut it. The material is soft and flimsy with almost no arch support. I wore these shoes once with the stock insoles before tossing them in the trash and borrowing a better pair from an old pair of Pearl Izumi shoes I had kicking around.

The shoes ship with protective dial covers, but we ditched them after just a few uses.

The shoes ship with protective dial covers, but we ditched them after just a few uses.​

I also had little use for the included protective dial covers (pictured above), which were finicky to install and didn't always stay in place. They too were ditched after a just a handful of rides.

After three hard months of use there's delamination occurring in several places.

After three hard months of use there's delamination occurring in several places.​

The other issue, as it often is with mountain bike shoes, was durability. After a hard summer's worth of riding (and some nasty rock strikes) the upper started to peel away from the lower in several spots. The worst offender is the site of one particularly hard hit during a Hartman Rocks session, which all by itself could be forgiven. But peel back is happening in at least one other spot, too, which is definitely a durability red flag.

The sole is stiff enough to max out the watts, but not so stiff that the occasional off-bike excursion is painful.

The sole is stiff enough to max out the watts, but not so stiff that the occasional off-bike excursion is painful.​

The good news is that rest of the shoe material (upper, dials, straps, sole) are all still in good shape. So it's a safe bet that with monitoring and some carefully placed Shoe Goo, I'll get at least one more season out of these kicks, which for a pair of enduro shoes is about all you can ask for. Finally it's worth mentioning that while MSRP is $189, a recent Google search turned up price tags in the $140 range, which is a pretty good deal when you consider you'll pay three times that for pair of high end cross-country race shoes.

For more info please visit www.northwave.com.