Giro’s range begins at the helmet and runs all the way down to the foot. As far as contact points go, a shoe has got to be the toughest to get right. It must combine elements of fit and comfort in the same way as a saddle, have breathable and durable materials like a piece of clothing, incorporate technical elements such as ratchets and buckles, and then have a look that meets the approval of a fussy clothing connoisseur. As a relative newcomer to footwear, Giro has taken on a big task.
Our Factor ACC kicks are Giro’s top of the line ratchet-closure shoe. Above the Factor are the Prolight SLX and Empire SLX. These shoes are notable for their differences, and place the Factor in context. Both are light, less than 200 grams per shoe. The Prolight eschews heavy ratchets, and instead uses three Velcro straps, tethered via titanium rings no less. The Empire SLX uses laces instead of straps. It’s lighter again. If we compare against most other shoe makers, the Factor could be a top of the line offering.
At the heart of the Factor is the Easton EC90 ACC carbon sole. A few years ago Easton and Giro became joined via mergers, and as such Giro has been able to directly befit from Easton’s depth of expertise in carbon. The EC90 ACC sole is light, which assists in keeping total shoe weight low, and also very stiff. The Factors are as stiff as any shoe I’ve worn, and I’ll never be heavy or powerful enough to require anything burlier. For casual riding and post-ride mingling the stiffness is overkill, but performance minded riders will enjoy the solid feel of the Factor footbed.
Giro has avoided some of the increasingly common high end shoe technologies by omitting dials and wires, and custom moldability. If the Factor last doesn’t fit your foot, you can’t mold your way out of trouble. I have a pretty regular foot, not wide or unusually skinny. The Factors were on the narrower side through the mid foot but offered more room in the toe box than I had expected based on the mid foot fit. They were snuggly and foot-hugging, but not tight in any any spot, and my heel was locked in solid without pressure points. We’re all different, but personally I would say that Giro has done a nice job here. Giro does make half sizes, and I could have gone a half size larger. Like many other brands, the half sizes are not available in Australia. There is also a HV (high volume) Factor for riders with wide feet.
Although the shoes are not heat moldable, the supplied inner soles are nifty (Giro refers to these as SuperNatural Fit). The shoes come with three sets of wedges for the foot arch (small, medium and large) to help you customize the fit. At first I was apprehensive, as I’ve experienced adhesive arch inserts in the past and they were a real hassle. The Giro inner sole and inserts velcro to one another: it took seconds to change the inserts, without ruining anything in the process. I settled on the medium, and all three sizes made an instantly noticeable difference to the fit of the shoe.
The uppers are constructed from a light microfiber, which is heavily perforated for breathability. Testing the Factors through winter was insufficient to pass judgment on their breathability. Inside, the upper is lined and stitches and seams are kept to a bare minimum. You almost have to go searching to find them. This thoughtful construction likely assists in the Factors in feeling snug but not intrusive. The lightly padded tongue is another thoughtful touch to keep things cozy on long rides.
Giro has kindly specced a replaceable rubber heal tread, and by enabling replacement a softer rubber compound can be used. In my experience by the time you’ve worn out the heel you’re well on the way to wearing out the toe too. Unfortunately, the toe tread is not replaceable. However, the micro adjust ratchet is replaceable. Over our test it felt rock solid, the two adjustment paddles offering single click tuning, even with full finger gloves on.
At the end of the day, the most important element of a shoe is fit, and this is deeply personal. The Factor will not fit club-footed riders, but for most it should offer a good fit, especially with the easy to use arch inserts. The matte white outer gets grubby quickly, and some reflective material on the back of the shoe would be a practical touch, as would a replaceable toe tread. These are small refinements, and don’t detract from what is a high quality pair of shoes.
Distributor: Sheppard Industries www.sheppardcycles.com