Following up on the first modern lace-up shoe, the Empire ACC, Giro released the Empire SLX on the eve of the 2014 Tour de France.
Weighing a claimed 175g in a size 42.5, the Empire SLX has inched closer to the world's lightest road shoes like the Rocket7 Superlite and the Bont Zero+.
Simon Fisher, Giro shoe product manager, has been at Giro since 1992, when he was building helmets under founder Jim Gentes. Fisher was able to shave of weight with a new upper material and very thin Easton carbon soles.
While some companies go with vents for ventilation, Fisher argues that a breathable fabric is more effective at cooling because "as soon as you put your foot in the shoe, you block the vents".
The most remarkable aspect of the Empire, of course, remains the laces.
While Giro's arguments of lowered weight and improved aerodynamics over straps are plausible enough for most people, skepticism remains about the adjustment and/or comfort of laces. Fisher counters that laces offer more points of contact than most systems, and don't require plastic based like buckles do.
In any event, the Empire SLX has Easton EC90 SLXII carbon outsoles with a 6.5mm stack height and titanium bolts in the replaceable heel pads. As with other Giro shoes, the Empire SLXs will come with SuperNatural Fit insoles, which come with three options of Velcro-attached instep supports.
Retail for the Empire SLX shoes will be $350/€300/￡249.