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Giant Surge Pro shoes review

1 Nov 2018

Comfortable, close-fitting shoes with oodles of tech

Cyclist Rating: 
• Classy looking • Comfortable from the off
• White uppers mark easily

Shoes are the hardest items of kit to test objectively. After all, the main thing anyone wants to know about a pair of shoes is: do they fit? This is where the problem lies. How can I recommend that you invest in a pair of shoes when my feet are not the same shape as your feet? In fact, my feet barely meet the definition of foot-shaped at all, being unnaturally long and thin.

This, in some ways, makes me the perfect tester for cycling shoes. If a brand can make a shoe that works for me, then the chances are they will be good for anyone.

Buy the Giant Surge Pro shoes from Tredz

And the good news is the new Giant Surge Pro shoes fit me beautifully. Which is slightly surprising as they were designed to suit the majority of people who have quite wide feet.

‘We made the shoe on two lasts,’ says Giant’s Rob Lyne, ‘the performance last and the wide last. The performance last is slightly narrower and tighter fitting, which for pros can offer greater power transfer and stability, but for about 80% of the population that performance last can be too tight fitting. For that reason, we’ve gone for the wide last, which is the more optimum fit.’

Giant has done its homework and produced a shoe that should be the best fit for the majority of people. So how, then, do the Surge Pro shoes manage to fit neatly on my long, narrow feet?

‘If you look at the contact point of the “ExoWrap” upper,’ Lyne continues, ‘you can see it is much closer to the centre of the shoe than you would have on a conventional shoe. That allows for a 360° closure around the foot, and when you do up the Boa dial you are actually wrapping the foot from the underside of the shoe around the foot, so you create a better all-round closure.’

He’s right. My initial impression upon donning the shoes was that they cradle the foot in a way that is both secure and comfortable. Where with some shoes I will find myself cranking the dials or straps as tight as possible in order to get a neat fit, the Surge Pros swaddled my feet rather than squeezed them.

To further improve fit, the Surge Pros come with removable supports for the insteps. Held in place with Velcro, the insteps allow for a ‘neutral’ support or a high arch support, while those with flat feet can remove the supports altogether.

Add in the fact that the shoes come in half sizes, and the result is that they should prove to be a good fit for just about anyone.

I was certainly impressed by how comfortable the Surge Pros were from the off. There was no sense that they needed to be broken in, and there were no tight spots or areas that rubbed.

After wearing them daily for several weeks, that impression didn’t change. The shoes felt soft and comfortable, and my foot didn’t slide around inside.

‘The uppers of the shoe have been radically redesigned,’ says Lyne. ‘We’re using a PU upper with laser-cut perforations, so although it’s one piece you’ve still got great breathability. The fabrics are softer than before, less bulky, the tongue is more anatomically designed, and the heel cup has been redesigned so we’ve got what we call “sharkskin”, which is the fabric that helps to hold the shoe in place on the back of the foot, reducing heel slippage.’

Turning the shoe over, the most noticeable element is the thin bar of carbon that runs down the centre of the sole, which Giant calls ‘ExoBeam’. The thinking is that it provides exceptional stiffness when you push down on the pedal, but allows for a certain amount of twist to protect ankle and knee joints from becoming strained during pedalling.

Lyne says, ‘The foot is made up of a forefoot and a heel, which are connected by soft tissues and tendons, but with a traditional shoe, when you’ve got a traditional plate last, what you are effectively doing is strapping the foot onto the footbed and then pedalling. What that does is restrict the natural movement of the foot.

‘You actually have lateral movement between the heel and the front of the foot, so with the ExoBeam we’ve effectively removed the midsole section of the plate, and that allows the foot its natural torsional movement.’

The theory is sound, although I’ll admit I couldn’t really detect the torsional flex in action. Certainly I never had any pains or strains in my joints while riding in the Surge Pros, but then I rarely have those problems anyway, so it was difficult to tell whether the shoes were helping.

What I could determine straight away was how stiff the shoes were. The ExoBeam acts like a girder, and no amount of stamping on the pedals on steep climbs could induce it to bend in the slightest.

Combined with the snug fit and the cunning heel-retaining material, the super-stiff sole ensured that no effort was lost to flex or slippage.

These are fast shoes, and they’re pretty light too – 259g on the Cyclist scales for size 43. Certainly, they are a match for any other brand I’ve tried in terms of performance.

The new Surge Pro is the latest version of the Surge shoe that Giant launched three years ago. Back then, the shoe had the ExoBeam sole, but it was slightly deeper and Giant decided to make it stand out in fluoro yellow. There were also some pretty funky colour schemes for the shoe’s upper. This updated Surge is an altogether more refined affair.

‘One of the criticisms we had was that aesthetically it looked quite unconventional,’ says Lyne, ‘so we’ve increased the width of plate in the forefoot to give more stability, which has allowed us to reduce the depth of the ExoBeam. Aesthetically it is less pronounced but retains the same rigidity in the sole.’

The new Surge has also dispensed with the Velcro strap that was on the previous version, and the latest colour options are simple black or white. The result is an elegant shoe that is unfussy and will pair neatly with any outfit.

‘We wanted to go for a much more pared back, minimalistic look to the shoe,’ says Lyne.

Available to buy from 

The Pro is the top level of the Surge line-up, with a full carbon sole, while the next level down, the Surge Elite, has a composite injection moulded plate on the sole, and the lowest level, the Comp, uses a nylon plate.

Buy the Giant Surge Pro shoes from Tredz

It’s hard to find fault with the Giant Surge Pro shoes. My only grumble to date is that the white material picks up dirt and grubby marks easily, so it’s a bit of job to keep the shoes sparkling clean, but that’s about it. The shoes even come with their own little travel case, which is a nice touch.

Giant might not be the company that first springs to mind when thinking about performance footwear, but with the Surge Pro it has produced a product that ticks the boxes for performance, fit, comfort and looks. Even the price is hard to beat.

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