Sign up for our newsletter


Giro Empire review

Giro Empire review
3 Jun 2015

Retro-cool laces made extra special by the stiff Easton carbon sole.

Cyclist Rating: 
Very comfortable
Difficult to adjust whilst riding

I must confess I’ve coveted the Giro Empires ever since I saw Taylor Phinney wearing them a few years ago.  Laces bring a timeless style that reminds me of those classic Adidas-Merckx specials from years ago, and if they’re good enough for footballers then they’ll be good enough for me. The colours, and style in general, aren’t for everyone but I really like them. As far as function goes, I don’t think the laces are bad. You can cinch them up really tight if you want to, but they also allow a lot more flexibility in where you place the tension than most shoes can offer. The lace material is strong meaning it doesn’t stretch, so you don’t have to worry about them slowly going slack over the course of a ride. I’ve done some pretty hard efforts in them and the Empires have stayed as tight as when I laced them up.

The only downside to the laces is that you can’t adjust the tension whilst riding along; you’d have to pull over and stop. Most peoples’ feet swell up a little after about 10 – 15 minutes of riding, so I’d just recommend setting them a touch loose to begin with. Just because they’re lace up doesn’t mean it’s all lo-tech. The uppers are made from one big piece of microfiber, which is resistant to stretch. It’s perforated along the sides, to allow air to get in, but if I’m honest it’s not particularly effective. With the lack of any proper venting at the front, airflow is pretty minimal so my feet became hot quite quickly even at fairly cool temperatures.

Giro Empire carbon sole

The soles on the Empires are Easton EC90 carbon fibre, which is the top of the range carbon from the composite company. The soles are plenty stiff enough to transmit my modest power figures but without being overly rigid and uncomfortable. The carbon soles also help keep the weight down too, although if you’re a total weight weenie they now offer the Empire SLX. The heel pad is replaceable too, so you’ll be able to keep hold of them that little bit longer. The insoles that come with most shoes are generally only good for throwing in the bin but the stock insoles that come with the Giros are great. They come with three different height arch supports that are reasonably stiff, so they’ll suit a lot of people. The H arches suited me the best and I actually found them so comfortable I started swapping them to other shoes. Sure they’re not as good as a custom made insole but they’re a league ahead of most others.

All in I was really impressed by the Giro Empires. If you’re die-hard racer then they’re probably not the shoes for you, but if you desire comfort above all else then they’re excellent.



Read more about: