The Giro Empire is a real throwback, bringing old school design back to the forefront of cycling shoes. Forget your BOA twisters, velcro straps or buckles. These classic shoes let you lace up your boots and get going. Incorporating new carbon technology, Giro have created a top of the line shoe that mixes premium road racing quality and retro good looks. It even appears to be good enough for the worlds best such as Taylor Phinney and Wiggo himself.
It’s no secret that when re-designing the seasonal wardrobe, shoes are one of the items regularly changed. Long days in the saddle are made much easier with a gentle, agreeable fit. And of course, among many cyclists nowadays, aesthetic is also high up the list.
When you think of lace up shoes you think of them getting caught in chain rings, taking days to get on and off, stretching, breaking, snapping. Even growing a size or two at the end of a long day in the rain. The problem list is endless. It wasn’t a secret that when they set out to redesign lace up shoes Giro had a big task. But they’ve really pulled it off.
Weighing in at £249.99 and currently retailing at CycleStore.co.uk for £204.99, they’re not at the cheap end of the market. Although a lot cheaper than many of the competitors up towards £300.
Working with the Giro sister company Easton, they’ve used one of the stiffest, lightest outsoles on the market. Pure carbon, 6.5mm in thickness the EC-90 ACC offers a fantastic platform for you to lay down the watts. A very low stack height allows your foot to sit right on top of the cleat, and therefore the pedal.
Following suit with all Giro shoes, the cleat mount is further back than many other brands, more in keeping with the modern ideas on bike fitting. They use a standard three hole cleat although speedplay can easily be fitted with the standard conversion wedge.
The designers at Giro have cleverly solved all of the old school issues with lace up shoes. The new one piece ‘Premium Evofibre’ upper shoe holds its form even after a long day out in the rain. It holds shape right through the life of the shoes.
Giro prove anti-stretch laces hold their form and do not grow like cotton ones. They really are light years ahead as you’d expect from a title ‘anti-stretch’. To prevent the laces clogging your drive train, Giro has incorporated the ‘Lace Garage’. a little elastic loop halfway down the tongue to hide the laces away keeping the look neat and tidy.
Out of The Box:
The Empire shoes certainly look the part. Available in five different colours, there’s one for each daily commute. Matching any outfit, you’re sure to look good in these shoes. Giro even send a choice of laces, allowing you to fully customize your look.
Seven holes provide a much more comfortable fit compared to the usual two/three straps. Or even the BOA dials we so often see now. With the top two holes being reinforced with a metal outer, this stops any tears in the upper exterior. It does take more playing around to find the perfect fit, it can even vary foot to foot. But once achieved, the Giro Empire really hugs the foot. Allowing a really comfortable ride. And putting the shoes on a second, or even third time is much easier than the first.
Granted you can’t slide straight in and out of these shoes like with a dial system. They’re the dial up of internet connections. Slower to connect than broadband, but pretty reliable once sorted. We wouldn’t suggest any of you triathlon lovers take a pair into transition with you. But they’re definitely worth a look for a fantastic training shoe, that can withstand a lot of miles. Although in the depths of winter when you’re wet, cold and you just want to slip off and throw your shoes into a corner, these aren’t the one.
Other than the specialized foot beds, we haven’t really seen a shoe company spend time and effort designing the support needed. Velcro in the bottom of the shoe stops the foot beds slipping and allows an easily interchangable system. With support for the medial and longitudinal foot arches, this reduces the risk of injuries in the knees & hips. Allowing a more fluid motion, opening up the whole of the glutes. It’s very clear that Giro have put time and development into the ergonomics of the shoe.
Onto the Bike:
These shoes obviously can’t be adjusted whilst out on the bike, which does cause a bit of a problem for some people. Although we found that because you spend a little extra time lacing them up before you start, this often isn’t a problem. The heel cup is firm despite being cut slightly lower than normal. We found that even with slightly looser laces the heel didn’t slip.
The lack of height at the edge of the shoe allows the foot to expand without pressing the edges of the carbon. This stops the foot feeling compressed or adding any pinch points to the shoe. The included foot beds support the foot enough laterally to allow for this.
On the surface the Giro Empire doesn’t look to heave very much ventilation. Although thankfully this was only skin-deep and we were surprised at how well the shoe coped in warmer conditions. The combination of perforated upper and vented sole enabled our feet to breathe. The air flow was certainly enough for sweltering days and increased greatly with speed. Only one solution there really! Push hard.
At 215grams these shoes hold their own against the best shoes on the market. They barely felt like they were there, similar to the brand new Specialized shoe.
The Giro Empire has clearly been designed with ergonomics at the top of the agenda. Mixed with it’s old school aesthetics, this makes for a fantastic all round shoe. It looks slick, performs well and Giro have dealt with all of the original problems with these shoes. This allows Giro to bring back a bit of history into cycling for all the hardcore cycling geeks. The only downside of the Giro Empire is the time spent taking the shoes on and off as this can become very fiddly. We’d definitely suggest this shoe for training or racing.
Included Accessories; Spare Laces, Shoe Bag
UpperOne-piece upper design; Premium Evofiber™ breathable microfiber; Laced closure
Outsole; Easton® EC90 ACC carbon fiber; Replaceable heel pads
Footbed; SuperNatural Fit Kit with adjustable arch support; X-Static® anti-microbial fiber
Weight; 215 grams (size 42.5)