With the advent of buckles, straps and dials, the classic lace-up shoe was sidelined. That is, until Giro introduced the Empire in 2014 which made lace up shoes cool again and solved many of the problems associated with the old-school technology. Not only do laces look undeniably stylish, they provide a snug fit and a supple feel.
RELATED: First look: Giro Factor Techlace
The Giro Empire SLX are the update of the original Empire and an outright performant shoe. Launched in 2015, they feature an ultra lightweight design on the stiff Easton EC90 SLX carbon sole. The use of laces means that the rest of the shoe can be quite minimalist giving the shoe a, exceptionally comfortable fit.
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The upper is made from Evofiber, a lightweight and very breathable material. Though not ultra-stiff, the upper wraps around the foot extremely nicely. Then comes the adjustability of laces which instead of cinching in a couple of places allows the wearer to carefully make adjustments to the tightness at multiple points.
The microfiber laces can easily and cheaply be replaced if damaged unlike many proprietary straps or dials and the choice of lace colour is endless allowing the wearer to add a bit of customization. The laces that come with the shoes are a lightweight microfiber holding a knot well and won’t absorb water or stretch like cotton laces.
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Once tied, the laces can be tucked away in neat little elastic strap so they don’t get caught in your drivetrain. To improve comfort, the insert can be removed and included insert with more arch support can be added. A nice feature for those looking for a bit more foot support.
The claimed weight of a pair of size 42.5 Giro Empire SLX is an astounding 350 g making them a featherweight option for weight weenies.
One of the draw backs of laces is the inability to make adjustments on the fly. Giro argue that with these shoes, you won’t feel the need to make adjustments because once you get accustomed to lacing them up just right they will stay snug for your entire ride. Laces also make putting them on and removing them a little slower. In light of this, Giro developed the Factor Techlace that use a Boa IP6 dial with a new closure system on the midfoot that combines the advantages of the subtle feel of laces with the adjustability of a strap.
Stay tuned for an in depth look at both pairs of Giro shoes.