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Limited edition styling with unlimited radness.
We understand that it's easy to get caught up in the hype of "limited edition" products. However, while most limited offerings are mainly limited in quality and consumer-desire, Giro's Empire MTB Shoes are something that we've all been waiting for. And not surprisingly, Giro has exceeded all of our expectations. First, there's the Backcountry Bike Team's exclusive Electric Blue colorway, then there's the adaptation of the already-classic Empire design to the mountain, and lastly, there's only a few hundred of them floating around in the world — all of which breeds want and desire.
The rationale behind the Empire is simple — utilizing the versatile fit adjustment and low weight of laces provides 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 are its other design features. Starting at the uppers themselves, Giro wrapped the Empire with one-piece of Tejin microfiber. This contributes to the shoes' sleek profile, but it also reduces weight while the fabric selection increases breathability. That's right, the Japanese Tejin fabric is extremely lightweight and highly breathable. 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.
Furthermore, 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 Easton-Giro-developed EC90 carbon fiber outsole. This outsole features a unidirectional carbon construction that boasts one of the highest stiffness-to-weight ratios on the market. Additionally, the outsole has a remarkably low stack height. 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.
Making this limited iteration of the Empire "mountain-specific" is the incorporation of thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. You'll find that this material has been used at the toe box, heel cup, and lugs. Why TPU? Well, this thermoplastic possesses a high level of elasticity, abrasion-resistance, and most importantly, strength. So, your feet will remain protected through rock gardens, and your footing will remain sure.
The Giro Empire MTB Shoes are available in the color Limited Edition Matte Electric Blue and in odd and even sizes from 41.0 to 46.0.
- Upper Material
- SuperNatural Fit Kit
- EC90 carbon fiber
- Cleat Compatibility
- 2-hole MTB
- Recommended Use
- all-mountain and cross country mountain biking
- Manufacturer Warranty
- 1 year