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The Empire is back for 2014, and this time around it makes its appearance even leaner and stiffer than the beloved inaugural release. An updated sole composition and new upper material are responsible for the refined makeup, with this specific version being released as a limited, collaborative project between Competitive Cyclist and Giro. So lace up a pair of these beauties before it's too late, and let the head turning begin.
Similar to the original Empires, this edition draws inspiration from classic lace-up designs — utilizing the versatile fit adjustment and low weight of laces to provide the ultimate balance of comfort and power. When you think about it, no hook-and-loop or ratcheting buckle closure system can match the mathematical possibilities for a lace's volume customization. Through varying lacing patterns or tensions, you can customize the medial or lateral pull, or the tightness at the forefoot or instep, all at the same time. But, if you're anything like us, your first nagging thought concerns the laces getting caught in the drivetrain — you're not alone. However, Giro's one step ahead of us, and accordingly, it incorporated a retaining lace garage on the tongue of the shoes. So, the retention system provides a positive conformity with the foot at a fraction of the typical weight.
And while the Empire's laces are an obvious differentiator, so too are its other design features. Starting at the uppers themselves, Giro wrapped the new Empires with its Evofiber microfiber. This material contributes to the shoes' sleek profile, but it also reduces weight while the fabric selection increases breathability. That's right, the new Evofiber fabric is even lighter and more breathable than before. Furthermore, Giro placed focused points of perforation along the Empire's sides and tongue in order to increase airflow throughout the shoe. And in case it gets a little sweaty inside, the Empire also features an X-Static footbed that's anti-microbial, anti-stink, and anti-static. The latter attribute also minimizes, if not eliminates, the ever-irritating hot spot.
Additionally, the X-Static composition is only one part of Giro's SuperNatural Fit Footbed — a critical component of the Empire's fit and function. This footbed takes into account the fundamental differences between a cycling footbed and a footbed for impact-sport shoes. Unlike walking, where the foot moves like a leaf spring, cycling requires the foot to act as a lever. As a result, the arch is under a high amount of stress. And to alleviate this, Giro included three different arch heights that're easily interchangeable along the undercarriage of the footbed. To additionally support the foot's lever action, the footbed features a low heel for optimal retention and a tapering density towards the toe for extra wiggle room.
Rounding out the Empire is an all-new Easton/Giro-developed EC90 ACC carbon fiber outsole. This outsole is slightly stiffer and lighter than the original EC90, featuring a uni-directional carbon construction that boasts one of the highest stiffness-to-weight ratios on the market. Additionally, the outsole has a remarkably low stack height of only 6.5mm. This means that the distance from the foot to the pedal has been minimized. So, working together, these characteristics not only guarantee an efficient power transfer, but also a high level of comfort. Key to the outsole's design is the allowance of what Giro calls spillover. Basically, while most shoemakers wrap the carbon high over the ball of the foot, the EC90 outsole allows the ball to spill over the side. Accordingly, the Empire becomes more accommodating to your foot as it inevitably swells, or when the foot expands while you're dancing on the pedals.
The Giro Gold Limited Edition Empire Shoes - Men's are available in the Gold/matte white colorway, and in whole and half sizes from 39.0 to 48.0. Please note that these shoes are only compatible with standard, three-hole road cleats.
- Upper Material
- SuperNatural Fit Kit
- Easton EC90 ACC carbon fiber
- Claimed Weight
- [size 42.5] 215 g
- Recommended Use
- Manufacturer Warranty
- 1 year