On the surface, the Giro Empire SLX are 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.
Very similar to the Giro Empire Acc, except just 175 grams per shoe. Don’t confuse these shoes with the old school, aesthetically pleasing shoes of all. These shoes are all about speed and performance. By far the lightest shoe on the market, although with a similar price tag to the rest of top end. With an RRP of £274.99 and currently retailing at £245 on Cyclestore.co.uk these shoes are up towards the higher end of the market.
As we said reviewing the Empire Acc – 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.
Now often appearing in the top 10 cycle shoes on the market, we wondered just what Giro had done to conquer the design of the Empire SLX. Giro really know what they’re doing when it comes to making shoes. So it’s no surprise that they’ve maximized the ergonomics of the shoe, without compromising performance.
These latest Empire SLX shoes are constructed with a one-piece Teijin Evofibre SL microfibre upper with a breathable mesh liner bonded to the inside. They’ve changed the design of the perforations to allow an aesthetically pleasing look but allowing you feet to remain aired.
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.
The sole comes from Giros sister company Easton. Named Easton ® EC90™ SLX2 High-Modulus Carbon Titanium with replaceable heel pads, this is one of the main features of the shoe being so light. If you’re a roadie looking to shave off every possible gram, these could be the shoes for you! Although only 70g lighter than other top end shoes, you could be looking at the difference of a longer morning toilet trip.
Out of the box:
Straight from the box these shoes feel fantastically comfortable. Yes, similar to other lace up shoes you have the issue of time putting them on and taking them off. But this offers a level of comfort that you just can’t get from dial shoes. We’re talking a matter of extra minutes to feel like you’re wearing slippers. Mixed with the old school aesthetic, these shoes are the perfect riding partners.
Available in three main colours, standard black & white, and giros deep purple. Although others can be stocked. Along with various trims and finishes, Giro have catered for all your outfits. Replacement laces also offer a variable look, and allow them to be cheaply changed with relative ease if they break. You’ll forget you’re wearing the Empire SLX’s until you get to the cafe everyone and everyone is suddenly interested.
The lack of adjustment while riding with the Empire SLX could be see as an issue. But we didn’t find it an issue at all. The laces can be pulled fairly tight and there’s still no pressure across the foot. You also get Giro’s SuperNatural Fit kit. We haven’t really seen another shoe company spend time and effort designing the support needed, other than the Specialized Foot beds. 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:
The first thing you notice out on the bike is just how light these shoes really are. The carbon outside is incredibly rigid despite how flat it is. The thin profile holds strong as you lay down the watts. The power transfer through the base of the shoe is remarkable, it’s very responsive from start to finish through the pedal stroke.
Similar to the Empire ACC the Empire SLX shoes do a great job of ventilating the feet. Upon a glance they don’t have the plethora of ventilation but the synthetic leather breathes well. Mixed with the hole at the toe the little pinholes bring in a surprising amount of air. This is again considerably increased at speed.
The white shoes begin to wear and fade quite easily so this will need to be considered if they’re your colour of choice. Due to the minimal use of material in the upper, this doesn’t help the damage. Some other materials are more resilient to this although the Giro shoes make up for this with the extra level of comfort. The leather stretches slightly over the first few rides although will then settle into place.
Despite bearing a hefty price tag, the comfort and performance of the Giro Empire SLX are fantastic. They’re definitely up at the forefront of the market with shoes such as the Specialized S-works 6. Lightweight, comfortable and stiff. If you’re looking to maximize power, save watts and don’t mind the time spent taking them on and off, these could be for you.
Included Accessories: Spare Laces, Shoe Bag
Upper: One-Piece Upper Design Premium Evofiber™ SL Breathable Microfiber Sport Laces: Holds a Knot, Durable, and Light
Outsole: Easton ® EC90™ SLX2 High-Modulus Carbon Titanium Hardware Replaceable Heel Pads
Footbed: Ultralight SuperNatural Fit Kit with Adjustable Arch Support Ultralight Footbed with Adjustable Arch Support X-Static ® Antimicrobial Fiber Travel Bag Included
Weight: 175 grams (size 42.5)