Northwave's Outcross 2 Plus shoes are comfortable and casual looking clipless pedal shoes that still manage to perform off-road. They have a dial tensioner and velcro closures, plus a Michelin tread coupled with abrasion and impact details. All in all, they are great shoes for everyday off-road use or longer trips on rougher terrain.
The sole is claimed to be 28% more abrasion resistant than TPU soles, and its certainly taken a solid amount of use out in the recent rocky trails of late without any signs of wear. Coupled with a well-balanced stiffness when riding, they have a decent feel when walking too. Handy in hike-a-bike terrain or steep pushes, where the grippy sole is an added bonus.
The sole isn't especially wet weather focussed for grip in mud but rather rocky terrain; it works really well when you need to walk. The heel centre is very open, which gives a degree of cushioning when walking downhill on harder surfaces. The shoes would be an excellent choice for long, multi-day trips when you may need to walk post-ride and mid-ride. There are no holes for spikes or studs.
Up on top, the whole shoe has coated with a protective water-repellent film, which I will assume will scuff and wear off in time, but the actual fabric, whilst not waterproof, is plenty sturdy. The high scuff areas feature additional cover from a textured rubber coating material and the sides also have an extra layer that is the contact area on the cranks when pedalling, adding another layer of protection.
The shape of the shoe is quite wide and suited my foot shape. I often find race-style shoes to be very narrow in the toe box, and these are a good fit, with space enough for thicker socks - like winter or waterproof if need be. There isn’t a huge amount of padding - just round the opening - which makes them dry pretty quick, and lowers the weight - despite there more‘tough’ looks, the shoes aren't especially heavy.
Out on the trails, I found them to be sturdy, and really capable at deflecting rocks, stumps and trail obstacles if you clipped them. They aren’t aimed for really rough trails, as the inner ankle is quite low, and there isn't the support of a mid style boot. That said, they are great for more natural riding when walking and unexpected obstacles might be an issue.
They feel plenty solid enough when pedalling, with none of the foot wrap you might get on flat pedals and flat shoes - but not as stiff as a race shoe. The closure is a neat touch, but I felt the strap could have been a touch longer, but this will vary depending on the shape of your foot. The dial allows you to, erm, dial in the tension to a very fussy level.
Mounting the cleats was super easy, and there were no issues with engagement caused by the soles, a few little guide marks would have been handy for positioning the cleats with a little more ease; not a big issue.
I liked the simplicity of the dial, and once I’d figured out the release, it made for an easy shoe to put on and off, though a touch more cord would make it really easy to get on. The two velcro straps keep the shoe well placed on your foot, and initially, the straps felt very inflexible but improved with use.
I had some thoughts that they might feel too hot, due to their bulkier and tough style, but in 30-degree heat on rides of several hours, they didn’t feel overly hot, or very uncomfortable with a thinner sock, and the small grid mesh is effective at cooling. The tongue is slightly padded and has been comfortable for four-plus hour rides and I had only a slight pressure point on my little toe on the first outing.
As ever, sizing will play a big part in how you get on with any shoe, but I like the tough, grippy sole, rugged upper and decent fitting of these. These are a well made, good quality shoe, and I feel they are suited for everyday trail riding and longer rides - bike packing or gravel type days when they’d double as ‘normal’ shoes after riding with not much compromise on walking comfort. They are available in black and the grey/orange tested.
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