Light on your feet just took on a whole new meaning.
At just 175 grams, the Giro Empire SLX shoes are breathing some pretty rarefied air. Not many shoes on the market come within 100 grams of the Empire, but it’s not giving up anything in terms of performance, either. The uppers are a single piece of Evofiber microfiber, which is highly breathable, but is also perforated for additional airflow. The shoe closes using just the laces you no doubt noticed, but those laces are specially designed to remain tied, and there’s also a lace garage on the tongue to ensure they don’t get anywhere near your drivetrain.
Those uppers are attached to an ultra-stiff Easton EC90 SLX2 Carbon Sole. This sole is among the stiffest available, and due to high grade of carbon fiber used in its construction, is also one of the slimmest, producing a stack height of just 6.5mm. A low stack height means less power lost to thick cleat plates. And, to make the Empire SLX even lighter, Giro’s opted for another old-school classic —Ti hardware. Between the uppers and the sole sits Giro’s lauded SuperNatural FitKit, the long name for its user-tunable footbed. These insoles have swappable arch support so you can tune the fit of your shoes precisely to your feet.
- Racing shoes that privilege style and stiffness
- The same top-tier carbon sole ridden in the peloton
- Microfiber uppers conform but don't stretch
- Laces provide twice the contact points for better fit
- Titanium cleat mounting hardware discreetly sheds grams
- Customizable fit inserts feature anti-odor treatment
- Item #GIR005H
What do you think about this product?
July 9, 2019
First the sizing stuff. I have a pair of Giro Factors in 43, bought these in a 43. The last is exactly the same size (and also the same size as my Specialized size 43 foot beds). However, Empire SLX's have slightly less volume, especially around the ankle. This is perfect for someone like me that has a low arch, but normal width feet. With my Factors, I always had the straps tightened as far as they would go. With the Empires, i still have about 1" of space at the ankle. The last is dead flat. Again, perfect for people with flat feet. If you need arch support, it can be added via the foot bed (included, or aftermarket). While laces seem "old school," they work pretty well. Very adjustable (pre-ride...), with the added benefit of no hard plastic bits on the upper to dig into your ankle.
June 8, 2019
Light & bit elastic
Bought SLX in 44. I am usually 10.5. Was nervous about laces moving from a pair of well worn Sidi’s (44). Slight adjustments required during break in period but then no issues. Material is light and shoes possess just a bit of give that is wonderful. Snug but just a bit of welcome stretch. Heel cup grips well. Bottom plenty stiff. Did I mention these are LIGHT?! Oh and smashing aesthetic! I’m thinking GiRO laces for my ‘Cross shoes!
February 4, 2019
Departure from other Giro shoes
I own a LOT of Giro shoes for road and mtb including the Code Techlace, VR70's and Empire ACC's. All fit fantastic in 42.5. I got a great deal in these Empire SLX shoes and as mentioned they are crazy light, stiff and sharp looking but they are also CRAZY RIDICULOUSLY TIGHT!!! I would need to size up a full size and as it stands, they put my foot to sleep and smash my toes. Would HIGHLY recommend sizing up.
June 13, 2019
What size are you in US size?
January 14, 2019
Light and comfortable
I read other reviews and ordered half a size up. A full size up would have been perfect but these still fit well. They're very light and lacing them up hold my feet securely. Despite being a little smug they're still super comfortable. The bright color attracts a lot of attention and compliments!
December 8, 2018
There is no substitute.
November 13, 2018
Destined to be a classic
Ultra-lightweight and fit like a custom cobbler made them The material is noticeably thinner and more comfortable than the ACC.
July 7, 2018
Interesting concept, but...
I really wanted to like these shoes (the colors are cool, retro) but concluded at the end that they're just not for me. Three issues : 1) they run narrow and just wouldn't adapt to my foot shape. 2) the cleat holes are too far forward. Other manufacturers of high end shoes are beginning to get the memo to move the holes back and have provided a degree of back and forth movement. These are fixed and I just couldn't get them to work for me. 3) The laces are a great idea but are, honestly, a pain. Giro provides an elastic strap to tuck them in but they still bounce around on the top of your shoes. After using them a few times, you start getting nostalgic for BOAs and velcro. So -- if you have wide feet, like your cleats back, and appreciate the convenience of modern fastening systems, move on.
January 27, 2019
Thanks for taking time to put together an intelligent write up with honest perspective. I have a purple bike and have been in love with the purple color and retro styling. Judging by the other reviews, I'm certain they must be light and very stiff (yeah, I'm a weight weenie). But your callouts on fit, cleat position, and the reality of laces shot me right between the eyes. Any one of these would be a show stopper for me. Taken together they're a non-starter. Your review saved me from going down the wrong path. This is exactly why customer reviews are so valuable and reminds me to write more reviews of my own.
June 13, 2018
Comfortable for the long haul
Out of the box, these shoes are weirdly light - like, what's missing to make them this light - light. Not being overly supplied in the intelligence department, I purchased these shoes (In Prince-Would-Be-Proud Purple) just before a century race and opted to use them. Fortunately, they fit PERFECTLY and were comfortable throughout a long day in the saddle. My only issue was the Speedplay cleats coming loose halfway through the event (my fault - I didn't use locktite!), which was remedied by an aid station tightening. These shoes are amazing, light, and amazingly light, and comfortable enough for long event use, out of the box.
June 6, 2018
I have finally found my shoe! The Giro Empire is awesome. After years of buckles and wires, I now know that good old laces offer the comfort I was missing. The purple color? Well, it’s bright. If Backcountry/Competitive Cyclist ever has a contest for the least color coordinated customer, I win. But I don’t care. These shoes are exceptionally comfortable. By far the best I have worn in almost 40 years of cycling. I can look past the crazy color. These shoes are super light! They make my old trusty and crusty Lake 331’s feel like boat anchors. The carbon soles are very stiff and give you a very low stack height. The drilling on the soles allows you to move the cleat way back, if you want to go Steve Hogg style. The adjustable insoles are a nice touch. They work great and eliminate the costly mistake of buying an expensive pair of insoles that feel great when you first try them on but ruin your feet 20 miles into a ride. Overall, highly recommended! Also- A shout out to Gearhead Sarah S. for her help!!
May 28, 2018
These things are so light! I've never owned a carbon road shoe so I don't have anything to base it on but it's like you're just wearing wearing socks and nothing else. The build quality is great and they breath really well. My one complaint is that the carbon on the sole is not protected in anyway. I live on the 3rd floor of my building so when I go for a ride I have to walk down stairs with them on. As a result the carbon on the arch of the shoe has become scuffed up. I've put a piece of tape on the arch of each shoe to avoid any further scuffing. I wear a 10/10.5 street shoe and a 45 fits perfectly.
April 3, 2018
Light and stiff
A great option if you are looking for a light shoes with a thing upper, not the most comfortable, but work well if you want something light with minimal flex. My only complaint is that the shoes laces are so long that i have to double knot them which makes it ake that much longer to get on and take off. Most shoes I wear are 43.5, these I needed a 44. so they are slightly small
January 8, 2018
These are very light and comfortable. Takes a little longer to get the shoes on and laced, but worth the effort. Great fit!
October 9, 2017
They run small so be sure to try on but they are comfortable!
October 7, 2017
Top Notch Road Shoes
Bought these as a alternative to the 2015 Specialized S-Works I've been using. Like them so much that I haven't worn the S-Works since. I'm a size 9.5 shoe, wore 43.5 for the S-Works and 43.0 for the Giros. The fit is perfect, especially after using the included inserts, resulting in fantastic power transfer. Soles are slim and stiff. Yes, laces are less convenient than dials but it's a small price to pay for their excellent performance.
September 8, 2017
Great Shoe! Give it time to break in!
As many have mentioned the shoe does run small depending on your foot. I had to go up an entire size. Also the shoe is narrow but it does stretch a little bit. The glowing red is more of an orange color in the sun but it still looks great!! I haven't had any issues with the laces, overall a great shoe!
July 13, 2017
Awesome & SO LIGHT
SO surprised when I opened the box. I've been wearing the same tri shoes since forever......these are amazingly light.....HOWEVER THEY DO RUN SMALL !!!! My current tri shoes are Carnacs size 39 (I am a female who normally wears a 7/1/2 to 8 ladies). On hearing that these might run small I DID order up a half a size and got the 39.5, and even these are very tight. I'm sure I could have gotten the 40s and would have been ok (actually sitting here debating about whether or not I SHOULD send these back for the 40s) Only gave 4 stars because of the ridiculous small sizing, otherwise I can't wait to wear them ! EDITED TO ADD: I DID send them back for the size 40s. SO MUCH BETTER !!!!! IN LOVE with them. Backcountry was great about the exchange <3 Also I wasn't a fan of the bright yellow/orange so I took a permanent sharpie & made them ALL black ! Took out the laces & put lock laces in them too since I do triathlons. PERFECT !!
July 2, 2017
Great road shoe
This shoes is great and I purchased it after getting the mountain version about a year ago. It is ultra light and the finish is great. I found that the size runs a little small and needed to size up by one full size from 43 to 44. Other than that they were great and I would buy them again without question.
May 11, 2017
Get them. You won't be sorry.
I used to have the Northwave Extreme Tech shoe, but in a crash I damaged the ratchet and strap. I looked around to see where I could get a replacement for those small parts...and could only find a online shop in Europe. Similar situation with my shoes before that, except the boa mechanism wore out and the part was obsolete and hard to find a replacement for. To heck with that! I saw these SLXs on deep discount, read up on them, and swooped in before Competitive Cyclist could come to its senses. These really are fine shoes. If there was one gripe I had with the Northwaves was that on very long rides my feet would tire. These Empires come with arch supporting insoles. That, combined with the comfortable upper, made a huge difference. Because of the laces, you can't tighten them while riding. But warm up for a few minutes, retighten, and it should be good. The laces themselves can be tucked under an elastic band to keep them from going where they shouldn't. Unlike expensive closure systems, with these shoes you need only replace laces. So something lost, something gained. But the benefits to me outweigh the drawbacks. Something else interesting. The shoes are really smooth and narrow. A triathlete did wind tunnel testing with them and found the Empires to be 4 watts faster (12 watts at yaw) than another shoe with straps and ratchets. This also means that you can put on Velotoes shoe covers and not worry about straps poking through the rubber.
April 25, 2017
Got them today!
I was apprehensive about buying them due to sizing comments and not being able to try them on. Contacted the online chat and was told to size up at least 1/2 a size larger than my foot size. My size is 9 1/2 and I own Lakes 331s in 43.5 which corresponds to 9 1/2. Upon the recommendation I ordered 43.5 in Giro which corresponds to a size 10. They fit perfectly and you probably should size up by 1/2. The toes are not rubbing against the front and are simply perfect. I ordered the glowing red color which actually is a bright orange. The fit and finish is absolutely superb and the weight is like holding nothing compared to my Lakes. They are simply beautiful. After taking a short 20 mile ride I still need to make some adjustments to the position of the cleats as they seem to be more far back than Lakes. The laces do take a bit longer to lace compared to boas but it is not an issue for me. The shoe really hugs your foot and does not feel like a road shoe at all more like a slipper of some sorts. Obviously it is too early to tell about their durability but I am very very impressed by the quality so far. The shoe itself is quite narrow so if you have wide feet you may reconsider. Also you must size up by at least 1/2. I would like to thank the online assistant for letting me know about the sizing and offering a free return in case they don't fit. I usually purchase my bicycling stuff from competitive cyclist but the price as well as free 2 day delivery was not being offered at you sister site. Very happy with the purchase and experience from backcountry. You guys rock!
April 14, 2017
Great shoe for narrow feet.
This is more unstructured rambling than a conherent review... I purchased a white pair of EU45 Empire SLX shoes in August of 2015 and have used them as my primary cycling shoe until last week. In the spirit of full disclosure, it's because the upper on my left shoe is coming unglued from the carbon outsole. It's a very small bit of separation, and I've temporarily mended it with Krazy Glue... I don't baby my shoes at all, so I'm inclined to believe this is an isolated case. In terms of sizing, I typically wear US 10.5 dress shoes or US 11/11.5 athletic shoes. My feet are 273mm (10.7") long and 99mm (3.9") wide. This translates well to the Empire SLX in EU 45 sizing with a little less than a centimeter between my big toe and the end of the toebox. In many other brands like Shimano, fi'zi:k and Gaerne I usually go with EU 44.5. I have to wear 44 in Bontrager. The overall fit is very good. With laces I can leave the forefoot/toebox a little looser while still getting the midfoot and heel nice and tight. This is somewhat necessary because the upper is very flexible. When I bought my shoes, they came with one pair of plain footbeds and also one pair of their SuperNatural footbeds with adjustable arch support. Both are a bit too thin for my tastes. I use fully custom orthotics with my shoes, but would settle for Specialized Body Geometry SL footbeds as an off-the-shelf option. The last on the Empire SLX is very flat otherwise. Another thing I like about the Empires is how far back cleats can be mounted. I generally like my pedal spindles to be almost a centimeter behind the balls of my feet and this isn't possible with some shoes without adapters. In terms of accessories, the shoes came with a fancy zippered, rectangular shoe bag, one extra pair of black laces, the SuperNatural footbeds and low profile titanium cleat bolts. The black laces were appreciated because eventually my white laces started to look a bit disgusting. After 1.5 years, my white shoes have yellowed a tiny bit. It's only noticeable when the shoes are placed next to something else truly white. Performancewise, the outsole seemed plenty stiff. I don't think I'd be able to tell a difference between the stiffness of most high-end cycling shoes. All I know is that my power comes easiest in a shoe that fits. Ventilation is good, but my feet usually aren't bothered by feeling a little hot anyway. The shoes are very easily to wipe clean of grime and grease. And yeah these shoes are very light and that's something I did notice right away. Would I go back to these shoes? Yes, definitely. I know they work well with my feet. It's just a matter of convenience and wanting to switch things up a bit. One weird thing I learned recently while shoe shopping is that the Giro Factor Techlace feels larger despite being built on the same last.
July 9, 2019
I don't race, but I do ride a few times a week, ranging from 15 to 50 miles per ride. And I do a few gran fondo's a year. I'm intrigued by the light weight and comfort described for the Giro Empire SLX road shoe and all the positive user/customer reviews here. Can anyone share their opinion about using these shoes for 15-50 mile training rides and gran fondos vs racing?
July 18, 2019
Hey Bryan, I think that these would be a great option for what you're trying to do. You shouldn't have a problem using them for training rides or your occasional Gran Fondo. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
June 26, 2017
How is the room in the toe box narrow or wide? I have Sidi Ergo 2 and my toes get numb after 4 hours on the bike. Are these narrow like the Sidis?
June 27, 2017
They are a bit narrow, But I wouldn't say that they are ass narrow in the toe box. These are a bit shallower from the top of the inside of the shoe to the insole though. If you have questions or need suggestions, you can reach out to me at email@example.com
May 1, 2017
I have the original Giro Prolight SLX 43.5. Will these fit the same?
November 13, 2017
Fit?....Not quite. The Empire SLX are the lowest volume (not just narrow) of the whole line, lower volume than Giro empire by far and the prolight slx. But they have pretty good adjustibility because of the laces. No pressure points. Sizing however is the same.
April 19, 2015
Are these compatible with speed play cleats? Or do I need to buy a separate plate or kit? I currently own a pair of old sidi ergo 3 size 45 and are a great fit. What size would you recommend on the slx?
April 29, 2015
You need the adapter. These are for a Look/SPD-Sl cleat.
January 30, 2015
Would you have any guidance on how they fit in relation to, say, SIDI? I have the SIDI Ergo 2 in 39 and they fit perfectly. Some years ago I got the Fizik Donna R3 (which need to be replaced now) and I had to go down to 38, same with the BONT Vaypor, I am a 38. Thanks!
Jose Ricardo C.
February 14, 2015
I wear 45 in SIDI and 44.5 in Giro.
April 10, 2015
I bought a pair of the empires a week ago and I'm a 45 in sidi and a 45 in the Giro for what it's worth.
April 13, 2015
43.5 in Shimano, had to go to 44 in Giro