iceBike: Giro road shoes step out in the UK
We take a look at Giro's new shoe range as it heads for a bike shop near you
They make helmets, they make gloves, now Giro also make shoes, announced last summer Giro's new shoe range is due to hit shops in the UK in the next couple of weeks and we got our first up close look at them here at iceBike.
When you're making a new range of cycling shoes where do you start? Well Giro started by looking at Sidi, the road shoes against which all other road shoes are judged. Where Sidis have always scored is the way their shoes hold the rider's foot. Giro set themselves the task of improving on that fit and adding in more comfort too without going too far the other way and making the shoe feel sloppy.
There are four shoes in the new range the Prolight SLX, designed with input from Levi Leipheimer, the Factor, The Trans, and the Espada women's shoe. The Prolight is the range topper, althought the Factor is only just behind it, and relates to the shoe range in the same way as the helmet of the same name relates to the rest of the Giro lid range - it's an out and out performance item, weighing in at a feathrery 205g for a size 42 and slated to cost £280. The Factor is the shoe equivalent of the Ionos lid - we're talking real-world high end fully featured with all the detailing more mortal cyclists than Levi Liepheimer will need to beat out some miles at pace - pricing is fairly real world too, these babies will set you back £240 and their available in a choice of red and white or black and at 255g per shoe for a 42 it's not exactly hefty either.
Last but not least comes the Trans and Espada, the third and fourth shoes in the range (Giro have also launched a range of mountain bike shoes, and there are triathlon and commuter offerings to come), both of these babies are essentially the Factor but slightly down-specced on the bells and whistles and using a more generic microfibre for the uppers, and using a different last in the case of the Espada – we will go in to more details on three shoes in a mo, but suffice to say a down-specced version of the Factor is still a fairly high tone shoe.
Giro's starting point for their new shoes was fit, and if your aim it to make the best fitting cycling shoes you can where better to start than the shoes most roadies currently regard as the best fitting cycling shoes – Sidis.
Essentially what Giro have tried to do is build a range of shoes with a footbed that is at least as foot gripping as that used by the Sidi equivalent, with a roomier toe box and using more advanced materials.
Giro have partnered with Japanese microfibre specialists Tejiin to develop the uppers for their shoes, and a range of carbon soles has been developed with Easton. Giro also sought inspiration from what might seam an unlikely quarter, football boots. When it comes to making footwear that combines durability, a glove like fit, comfort, performance and lightness an awful lot of time, money and research has gone in to football boots and much of what has been developed is also applicable to cycling – particularly when it comes to the microfibres used to make uppers.
Both of the top models share design details and the same Easton EC90 carbon sole - okay the Prolight gets the EC90 SLX sole (max weight 42g) - we'd be very surprised if the standard sole was anything more than a couple of grams heavier though. For comfort and to get a closer fit Giro have designed the Prolight and Factor with one piece uppers from the toe box to the heel cutting down on the number of internal seams for your foot to rub against. Both shoes feature a moulded in heel cup with the upper curving up and over your heel to lock it in place. The EC90 carbon sole is both very light and very stiff - Easton and Giro claim a class leading level of stiffness for their sole made from unidirectional high modulus carbon.
The EC90 sole is also very thin too - a mere 6.5mm and it is what's called a neutral design in that it doesn't curve up and around your foot which potentially leads to the foot being squashed against the sides of carbon sole when your pedalling - especially out of the saddle, something Giro reckon is a contributing factor to hotspots. Giro's shoes are designed with a bit of "flub" room, as the man from Giro put it so although the upper is close fitting it will allow your foot to splay outwards when it needs too without the shoe becoming a sloppy fit as a result. Interestingly, although the end results are very different shoes Giro's approach to what makes a good cycling shoe is quite similar to Fizik's particularly when it comes to the moulded heel cup and placement of straps.
The Prolight SLX is the shoe that benefits most from football tech - the upper is made from Tejiin's AG100 ultra-light microfibre that has so far only been used in high end football boots, it's both durable and very light - and it's designed to mould to your foot without stretching, it combines with the Easton EC90 carbon sole to create a very light shoe. The other standout detail on the Prolight is the closure system, instead of a ratchet and three straps – you simply get 3 straps. Levi Leipheimer was very insistent on that apparently, he didn't want a shoe with a breakable ratchet as the main closure which in the event of a stack would leave him with a useless shoe and impaired pedalling. More weight is shaved courtesy titanium d-rings in the two upper straps while for those wanting the ultimate in lightweight and not needing much arch support an ultra thin EPP footbed is supplied. If you do want arch support he Prolight shoe also comes with Giro's Supernatural fit kit footbed – with a choice of three levels of insertable arch support. Available in either black or white.
Sizing on the Prolights and all the rest of Giro's men's shoes runs from 39 - 48 in whole sizes and 39.5 - 46.5 in half sizes.
The Factor is Giro's all day comfort performance shoe - as mentioned above it shares pretty much the same sole as the Prolight and the same one piece upper design. This time though the upper is made from a microfibre developed specifically for cycling shoes by Teijin and Giro it's slightly thicker than that used on the Prolights 1.4mm as opposed to 1.1mm. It is claimed to be both more scuff resistant and breathable to cope with the demands of cycling. The footbed and tongue are the same design as the Prolight – the Factor comes with the Supernatural fit kit as a standard allowing you to tune the level of arch support you need. The insoles will also be available to buy as an aftermarket product too. The other big difference is that the closure system uses an Italian sourced ratchet for the main closure instead of three straps. Available in red and white, black, or white.
Third shoe in the men's range is the Trans. Essentially it's the Factor but made for those of us on a budget. It shares the same last as the Factor and Prolight, a precision cut affair that is more expensive to produce than a hand finished last say Giro and which guarantees a much more consistent final result too.
The carbon sole comes out of the same mould as the higher end shoes too - but this time it is an Easton EC70 carbon lay up, so it's still stiff and light, but not quite as much as the EC90 sole. The upper is again a Tejiin microfibre but this time a more generic one. The shoe doesn't come with the Supernatural Fit Kit but is designed to be used with it - the moulded footbed has an arch support that equates to the Fit Kit's medium level of support - so presumably you only need that if you want the highest level of support. Available in blue and white, or black.
In the few months since its launch in the US the Espada women's shoe has been a runaway success for Giro in the US. Essentially it's a Trans but built using a last designed for women's feet – meaning it's thinner in vertical section and the heel is narrower too. Giro have also placed the straps slightly differently too to ensure the most comfortable fit for a narrower foot. The Espada comes in a white/silver colourway or titanium/charcoal and sizing ranges from 36-43 in whole sizes and 37.5-42.5 in half sizes. The Espadas cost the same as the Trans men's shoes at £159.99
We've already got our orders in for test samples of the Factor and the Espada so look out for them on road.cc soon. To find out more visit the Giro shoe section of the Madison website or go to www.giro.com.