Choosing the right
shoe is imperative for control and performance on the bike. Steve Hogg’s recent article (issue #190) explained the body’s hierarchy of muscle deployment — when the foot is securely held, the body can focus on delivery of power rather than its natural first inclinations of stability and safety.
Giro’s Empire shoes feature the Supernatural Fit system; a choice of arch supports that provide some comfort, but they also help to secure your foot inside the shoe. The inserts attach with velcro to the insole blending in perfectly so there’s no step or ridge at the join.
Easton continue to provide the stiff carbon footbed for the Giro shoes. There’s no deflection in the sole and power delivery is very good. (Just as a comparison, if you haven’t ridden a bike with joggers lately, give it a try!) The sole has a fore/aft and lateral gauge printed on it to assist with cleat installation.
The one piece uppers are a breathable synthetic fibre. The perforations allow some minimal air flow and there is a small mesh vent in the carbon sole, but if you are looking for serious ventilation in your shoes look elsewhere. The lace up closure is somewhat reminiscent of old-school bowling shoes.
The laces never came undone despite my initial concerns, and there’s actually a slot in the tongue to retain the end of the lace. Some might find they want a bit more rigidity to rip into a sprint, or smash up a hill but there’s no option for on the fly adjustment as with modern ratchet or boa systems.
The Empires have a level of elegance beyond the aggressive looking plastic offerings of some other brands, but this laid back appearance belies their technical construction and resulting performance delivery. They may not be first choice in summer for the lack of cooling vents, but I found them stiff and efficient and as a result of the insole supports and laces, a comfortable and conforming fit. 274g each (size 46) RRP: $289.