The Veloce is a super slick looking shoe that can increase maximum power output by up to 4 per cent and foot stability by 9 per cent – plus reduce the ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion’ by a whopping 15 per cent.
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Cycling Shoe Review: Northwave Veloce Extreme

Pete Maniaty rides what have quite possibly become his favourite road shoes ever, handmade Italian Northwave Veloce Extremes.

Four months is an eternity in cycling. A short time ago I was reviewing Northwave’s impressive-but-not-quite-perfect Extreme Pro 3 road shoes. At the time, they were the top dog in the Italian footwear giant’s impressive stable of performance road shoes. But not any longer.

After hundreds of hours of discrete real-world and ergo testing by a small army of professional riders – including Northwave ambassador Filippo Ganna, who reportedly raced the entire 2023 season in them – last October saw the official launch of the Veloce Extreme.

100 per cent designed and handmade in Italy, Northwave has taken the considerable lessons learned from the past to create the Veloce Extreme, before adding in a liberal helping of new technology and a Stelvio-sized mountain of lab testing. The result is what Northwave triumphantly declares are the best high performance road shoes they’ve ever released. After wearing them for the best part of two months over the festive season, I can only agree.

First Impressions

Out of the box, the Veloce Extreme oozes quality. It’s clear these shoes are very well made. They look and feel fast; appropriate given that’s exactly what ‘Veloce’ means in English. Aesthetically, the monochromatic styling is clean and modern with a touch of brooding contrast thanks to the jet-black tongue and oversized ‘NW’ logos on the outer side of each shoe. Northwave hasn’t worried too much about colourways, you can choose black or white and that’s it.

Proudly made in Italy, the shoes weigh 285grams in size 44.

The other thing I noticed almost immediately was their weight. You certainly wouldn’t call them heavy, but without cleats and footbeds, each shoe still comes in at 285 grams (size 44). For reference, that’s actually a bit more than the equivalent size in Northwave’s Extreme Pro 3 model, while several rival brands currently boast top-tier road offerings between 25-45 grams lighter per shoe, which is around 10-15 per cent lighter.

Of course, as with most things in cycling, weight isn’t everything and it’s important to consider the entire package. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice – and, if you’re a weight weenie, you will too.

The Tech

As you’d expect for shoes with an RRP just shy of $700, the Veloce Extreme wraps your feet with an impressive amount of tech. Some features we’ve seen before on previous Northwave models, such as the superb SLW3 dual closure system developed by X-Dial. But there’s plenty of new stuff too. The most noteworthy is a completely redesigned and patented sole system known as Powershape HT, short for ‘High Tail’.

Engineered from unidirectional carbon with the maximum Northwave stiffness rating of 15, the new HT sole looks very different to the original Powershape sole, extending high up along the inner edge of the heel cup. According to Northwave, this asymmetrical design allows your heel to maintain its natural position more easily when riding, whilst also better supporting the inside and arch areas of your foot.

Two different insoles are included, regular and slim.

Testing data shows foot rotation and ankle movement is significantly reduced which, in turn, engages more muscles to maximise thrust during each pedal revolution. Also optimised for the new Powershape HT sole is an updated and lighter version of Northwave’s ARS (Anatomic Reticular Support) system, which I first experienced when reviewing the Extreme Pro 3. In a nice extra touch, the rubber heel pads are now easily replaceable to help extend the life of the shoes. All you need is a hex key to remove the screw under the footbed.

The Fit

Fit is hugely personal. I learned years ago Northwave shoes just work for me and my wider-than-average feet, and the Veloce Extreme is no exception. Whilst undeniably stiff thanks to their 15-rated carbon soles, I still found the shoes surprisingly accommodating.

They’re firm where they need to be firm, with just enough space around the toes and heels for a comfortable yet stable ride. Having struggled with ‘tongue rub’ during the previous Extreme Pro 3 review, I was also very pleased to see the welcome return to an underlapping upper design that effectively wraps to the shape of your foot with no traditional tongue and, as a result, zero pressure points.

These are ‘Ganna certified’ premium shoes – a race level offering available for all, but they come with a hefty price tag.

Coupled with two fully independent SLW3 closure dials offering precision micrometric adjustments – one across your toes, the other across your instep – the Veloce Extreme fit is super snug without ever feeling tight. On the flip side, and entirely consistent with previous Northwave models I’ve worn featuring an underlapping upper, the opening is a touch narrow, so it’s best to fully release both closure dials when putting them on.

To further accommodate the hugely varying shapes of riders’ feet, Northwave also provides two pairs of anatomical footbeds with the Veloce Extreme – 5mm (slim fit) and 3mm (regular fit) – for an even more customised fit with extra support to the arch and metatarsal areas.

The Data

Hyperbole has long been a dear friend of the cycling industry. However, in the case of the Veloce Extreme, Northwave has pretty much released all their lab data to prove their excitement is founded on science, not just marketing department bluster. In particular, the Veloce Extreme was subjected to an exhaustive bio-mechanical study of sprint tests, incremental tests and constant power tests to examine the performance of the new Powershape HT sole compared to the previous Powershape model.

The findings showed the Veloce Extreme design can increase maximum power output by up to 4 per cent and foot stability by 9 per cent, both significant numbers in a sport that continues to be defined by marginal gains. ‘RPE’ (Rate of Perceived Exertion) is also reduced by a whopping 15 per cent. In other words, these things can help you transfer more power to the bitumen with less perceived effort. Who doesn’t want that?

Shoe design and development continues to surprise and impress us with NorthWave again leading the charge. These kicks not only look sensational but have been tested to boost power and performance. And the stiffness index of 15 certainly helps!

The Ride

As mentioned earlier, Veloce is the Italian word for ‘fast’ and these shoes certainly deliver when it comes to speed. In fact, they deliver brilliantly against pretty much every performance measure. I found the ultra-stiff soles and precision fit combined to provide a really direct feeling of power and efficiency, with only a very slight trade-off in terms of overall comfort on longer rides.

For the first few weeks of the review, I used SPD yellow cleats with six degrees of float and they were impressive enough. As a little experiment, I then swapped to SPD blue cleats (which I’ve typically used for racing over the years) with just two degrees of float. Almost instantly, I felt the already-excellent power transfer went to another level again, especially on faster rides and training pace lines, in a great example of how seemingly small changes can often deliver real improvements out on the road.

Just finally, given the review took place during the hottest part of the Aussie summer, it’s also worth mentioning the micro-perforated upper on the Veloce Extreme offers plenty of ventilation, as do four large air channels integrated into each sole to further regulate temperature and promote airflow around hard-working feet and toes.

Who Are They For?

These are serious shoes for serious riders, with top-shelf quality across the board. Veloce Extreme is best suited to performance-focused athletes who want a rigid, race-proven road shoe that helps them maximise every watt on every pedal revolution.

Whilst I found them very comfortable – increasingly so the more I wore them, as you’d expect – they’re certainly less forgiving than more endurance-oriented shoes, so they’re probably not an ideal choice if you tend to focus more on long-distance and/or casual riding. Oh, and given the lofty price-tag, deep pockets will also come in handy. unknown.gif

The shoes are available for $699 from



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