First Look: The Giro Empire SLX Cycling Shoes Reviews

July 11, 2019

When Giro’s lace-up Empire road shoe, many cyclists took it as a one-off retro offering. But as the company explained in introducing a new edition, that was never the intention.

Pro racers and others are asking for the shoe, said Giro footwear product manager Simon Fisher, because the design creates a close fit that isn’t disturbed by straps, buckles, D-rings, and the plastic armor that many modern road shoes have additions that, for some riders, can cause painful hot spots.

Giro Mens Empire SLX Anodized Glowing Red and Black 39.5 ( US Mens 7 ) D – Medium

“If you think about it, the laces (on the Empire SLX) create seven adjustment points, while straps and buckles and dials usually have only three,” he said at the introduction in Harrogate, England at the Tour de France. The increased adjustability lets riders with oddly shaped feet fine-tune the fit.

Fisher added that the move away from laces, which began about 30 years ago, had nothing to do with the quality of the closure system itself.

The old upper materials like natural leather and early synthetics were prone to stretching, and the straps and buckles helped improve efficiency by keeping riders’ feet from moving around inside the shoe.

Today, said Fisher, modern synthetics don’t stretch, so laces which are lighter and more adjustable are a viable option again.

The new Empire uses a one-piece upper made with a sandwich construction Giro calls EvoFiber. The outer layer is a new synthetic leather with a distinctive pebble grain, bonded to a breathable mesh inner that helps wick moisture.

The leather itself is waterproof but breathable, so your foot stays cooler on hot days without the need for mesh inserts. Perforations obviously let in water, but add a beautiful visual touch.

Giro claims the new Easton EC90 SLX 2 outsole, which fits all three-bolt pedal systems, is its stiffest yet. Although the two brands are no longer part of the same company, Giro says the collaboration will continue.

The final touch is the customizable SuperNatural Fit Kit insole system, which is unchanged from past editions.

The lighter sole, titanium cleat hardware, and new upper reduce the weight to 175 grams per shoe (size 42.5), which Giro claims is the lightest production road shoe made.

Giro Mens Empire SLX Anodized Glowing

They’ll come in sizes 39–48 (sorry, small-footed folks) with half sizes from 39.5–46.5. Colors are a snowy white and a fiery color called Anodized Glowing Red, both with black logos.