When it comes to cycling kit, Northwave does things just a little bit differently. For example, even though it’s still a family-owned business after more than 50 years, there’s nothing old-fashioned about the company: innovation and development are its watchwords.
Perhaps more importantly for UK cyclists, even though it’s a proud Italian brand whose home is among the hills of Treviso, its approach to sizing is very much sympathetic to what British riders might expect. If something with a Northwave logo takes your fancy, you shouldn’t need to double guess what size to buy.
And that knowledge will probably come in handy, because the Northwave 2023 range is chock-full of incredible bits of kit. Whether you’re looking for breathable, lightweight summer jerseys, the protective qualities of hi-tech modern weather proof jackets, all-day bibshorts, or simply super-comfortable socks, Northwave has what you need.
So we caught up with distributor Raleigh UK’s Northwave brand manager, Tom Waugh, to look at some of the brand's 2023 road cycling highlights.
“All of Northwave’s top-of-the-range road and gravel kit carries the Extreme name. There is the Extreme jersey; the Extreme Pro bib-short that we’ll look at next; and then the Extreme Pro 3 shoe. For the ultimate high performance, you can shop the ‘Extreme’ range. There are even Extreme Air socks,” Tom says.
“This Extreme jersey is designed to be a close-fitting 'pro-fit' jersey and it’s made with an elastic component in the fabric, so that it grips to the body very tightly. Even the gusseted rear pockets are designed to fit closely, so when you put something in the back-pocket it stays tight against the body.
“It’s the modern understated design with Italian style that makes this is a real stand-out product. It delivers a level of performance and quality that rivals other well-known brands in the clothing market. The exciting part for me is the value versus performance element of the Extreme 2 jersey. To get a top performing cycling jersey, with great styling at an affordable price, there’s no need to look anywhere else.”
“The Extreme Pro bibshort from Northwave features the company’s Explorer pad. The multi-density construction allows the pad to maintain a low profile with minimal seams to reduce chafing. It provides all the support you need in exactly the right places and is ideal for long days in the saddle,” Tom says.
“Northwave uses a multi-fabric construction for its Extreme Pro Bibshorts. A softer fabric around the groin and inner thighs provides additional freedom of movement and breathability, whereas the outer leg is a tighter nylon, so you get a nice close fit and support around the rest of the short. The raw finished cuffs deliver clean lines and the silicone grippers hold the legs in place.
“Northwave clothing is often seen as more of a mid-tier brand but the top-end stuff really packs a punch when it comes to value for money.”
“At the same price, Northwave has both the Storm or this Storm Air jersey. They are the same cut and the same style, the difference being the Storm Air is more breathable and lightweight, so it’s suitable for hotter weather,” Tom says
“The Storm Air jersey has a more relaxed fit in comparison to the Extreme 2 jersey as it features a lighter weight mesh-like fabric designed for warmer days. While still a close fit, the fabric allows for additional freedom of movement for warm days in the saddle. It’s perfect if you’re riding abroad or if we are having a hot summer here in the UK, or even for wearing on the turbo-trainer.”
“The Blade is Northwave’s best-selling jersey and for good reason. With the Blade, there are loads of colour options – in fact, Northwave’s colour palette is consistent all the way from clothing, to socks, to footwear – and while the Blade is a looser fit, it still benefits from modern styling,” Tom says.
“It’s a bit more relaxed on the fit, so if you are somebody who likes a close-fitting product, I’d suggest you downsize on this one. There is also a lighter weight Blade Air jersey at the same price, with the same cut but with additional breathability, much like the Storm Air. The Blade and Blade Air have the same ventilated material on the back but the Air version uses that mesh fabric on its front, too.
"This is perfect for road or gravel or pretty much any riding at all!”
“The Fast bibshort is the next option in the range after the Extreme bibs. The Fast bib still features Northwave’s Explorer pad but does not benefit from the multi-fabric construction seen in the Extreme bib. By using only one type of material in the main short construction, the Fast loses the additional breathability and freedom of movement that the Extreme provides.” Tom says.
“Over recent years, Northwave’s shorts technology has really stepped up and the range of pads featured in the company’s range has been refined. Historically, Northwave had more than 25 different pads in the range, it has now been reduced to just eight options – across both men and women. Northwave is now much more precise in terms of how it is making its pads and how they are specced.”
“Unlike the Explorer and the Fast bibshort, this Active Bibshort-Gel comes with Northwave’s Adventure gel pad. The way you can think about this is: the Explorer pad is great for long days in the saddle; the Adventure gel pad is designed for the less seasoned cyclist looking for additional padding, who perhaps only spends a few hours in the saddle each week,” Tom says.
“Not to be confused with the Active bibshort, which features Northwave’s entry-level pad, this Active gel pad is a little bit thicker, offering extra protection. In terms of other design elements, the Active Bibshort-Gel features silicone grippers to ensure the short stays in place and, while it does not have the raw-cut finish on the cuffs featured on bibs higher up the range, it’s still a fantastic short.”
“The Rainskin Shield 2 jacket is absolutely mega! One of the most exciting things about this garment is that it is a soft-finish nylon – so it’s actually very nice to touch. It’s as waterproof and as breathable as you need it to be. It’s four-way stretch because it’s designed to be close fitting – so you have full freedom of movement. And it also has an elasticated loop in the neck that looks like a label or a tag, but you can tuck it all into that and it’ll pack away into your back pocket,” Tom says.
“The secret to the Rainskin Shield 2’s incredible performance is its 2.5-layer construction. This means you have the face fabric, a laminated back and you have a printed dimpled surface, which creates a slight gap between the jacket and your skin. This allows the water vapour to go through it much more effectively and it protects the membrane. For £125, a fully-taped, four-way stretch, genuinely all-year-round jacket is really pretty special.”
“These Extreme Air socks are low profile, well fitting, super breathable, and designed to be anti-bacterial and odour-free thanks to the Qskin yarn they're made from. In theory, you could even wear them on back-to-back days,” Tom says.
“Cyclist often overlook the importance of socks and sometimes don’t consider that a pair of road or mountain bike shoes are pieces of performance kit, and not like any other kind of footwear they may own. Much like you would have with a running or hiking shoe, for me it is extremely important to have the right sock to deliver the best fit and performance. Northwave understands the importance of a sock and how it can alter the way footwear fits. Northwave's socks deliver the best fit and feel, and work great with any cycling shoe – although, of course, they work best with Northwave’s own footwear range!”