Empire SLX Cycling Shoe
At just 185 grams, the recently updated Empire SLX Cycling Shoe from Giro is breathing some pretty rarefied air. Not many shoes on the market come within 100 grams of the iconic Empire, but it's not giving up anything in terms of performance, either. The new uppers are constructed from Synchwire, the same lightweight, low stretch, and quick drying material used on the range-topping Imperial. In fact, the new Empire uses the same upper and outsole as the Imperial, however, it trades out the BOA dials for laces, saving some 60 grams in the process and offering an even more personalized fit and the option of some color customization.
The new version is highly breathable and receives some mesh windows for additional airflow. The lightweight upper doesn't suffer from lack of stiffness though, and it receives additional structural support from its thermal-welded Teijin TPU sections. It also provides pro-level performance and a comfy fit right out of the box. If you haven't used lace-up cycling shoes yet, you should know that Giro uses special tubular-woven laces that are specially designed to remain tied, and there's also a lace garage on the top of the tongue to ensure they don't get tangled in your drivetrain.
Those uppers are attached to a refined Easton EC90 SLX2 Carbon Sole that receives additional resin for improved durability. This sole is amazingly stiff, and thanks to its unique construction, has one of the lowest stack heights available at a paltry 6.5mm. A low stack height means smoother pedaling and more efficiency and of course less weight. It's finished with stainless steel hardware and replaceable heel pads which both improve durability.
Between the uppers and the sole sits Giro's much-lauded SuperNatural FitKit, a long name for its user-tunable footbed. These insoles have swappable arch support inserts so you can tune the fit of your shoes precisely to the shape of your feet.
- Giro's iconic Empire gets a makeover, proving lace-ups are here to stay
- New Synchwire upper design increases breathability and durability
- Thermal-welded Teijin TPU reinforcement boosts support
- Tubular-woven laces allow for a custom fit and stay tied
- Updated Easton EC90 SLX2 carbon sole receives more resin for more durability
- Replaceable heel pads and stainless steel hardware improve longevity
- SuperNatural Fit Kit insole with adjustable arch support dials in the fit
- XT2 anti-microbial fiber top sheet keeps odors at bay
- Item #GIR00MJ
- Q & A
Comfortable, light, fast...
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: 42.5
- Height: 6'1"
- Weight: 152lbs
Who: I’ve been riding for more than 20 years and racing for most of that time. I race mainly Cyclocross but spend most of my time on the road and gravel.
What: I bought these shoes based on simplicity: they’re light, they don’t have any complex closure mechanisms and, in my opinion, they’re a sharp looking shoe. They replaced the top level Specialized shoe SWorks 7 as I found the toe box too long/wide and struggled to get half sizing from different retailers (I was riding a 43 in Spec, I bought a 42.5 in Giro - much better fit). This is my second pair of Giro’s and I’m becoming a bigger fan each purchase.
Where: I bought them right here on Competitive cyclist. I ride mostly in Marin, California. That said, I’ve recently moved here after working in Singapore for a few years and these shoes would be brilliant in the tropical Singapore heat.
Ride impressions: You’ll immediately notice how light the upper on this shoe is. The impact is that it will feel flexible and almost ‘stretchy’. In my opinion this makes the shoe feel super comfortable. My feet feel like they have room to move but the shoe fits very close and very well. They are a bit ‘pointy’ but no more so than the volume fo other shoes on the market. They do not impact my toes. As a previous Bont rider these don’t feel in any way restrictive. The laces are wonderful. It took about 1 ride for me to get the tension right and now they’re great. I’ve never been one to adjust my shoes mid ride so...
In summary: A lightweight, comfortable, sharp looking shoe.