Laces, Velcro and Boa dials aren't new to cycling shoes — but laces anchored in Velcro tabs certainly are. The new Giro Factor Techlace and women's Factress Techlace road shoes offer the pressure-balancing characteristic of laces with the on-the-fly adjustability of Velcro.
The 210g shoe (claimed, size 42.5) is the first time Giro has used a Boa dial, which gives +/- 1mm adjustments in either direction, and has a similar balancing effect with its nylon-wrapped braided steel lace as the traditional laces.
With the Empire lace-up shoe in 2013, Giro gave a very old technology fresh life, and a number of competitors — after initial mocking the design — came to market with their own lace-up models. Along with the low weight — the Empire SLX is a feathery 175g per shoe — the laces allow for a very fine-tuned fit. On the other hand, tweaking that fit while on the bike just isn't an option. While Giro argues that you don't need to change the fit on the bike, the Californian brand realizes that not all riders agree.
"You don’t need to adjust laces, but people still want to ability to adjust mid-ride," said Giro's shoe manager Simon Fisher.
Going on sale in October for £289 / US$350 (AU pricing TBD), the Factor Techlace and Factress Techlace replace the Factor and Factress.
The second-tier Sentrie and women’s Raes Techlace shoes will be available for £199 / US$250 without some of the premium features like the Boa IP1 dial.
The Factor Techlace is built on the same last as its preceding Factor and the lace-up Empire. Many riders, including this author, have found the Empire to be noticeably more narrow than the Factor. Fisher says this isn’t the case; both shoes have the same shape and volume. He does say the factory shaping methodology for the Empire was in the past perhaps too quick, resulting in the microfiber upper forming in a more upright shape on the Empire than on the Factor.
“It wants to go back to being straight,” Fisher said of the microfiber, adding that Giro has moved to a new factory and a longer heating and cooling forming process that should address this so both the Factor Techlace and the continuing Empire will fit the same.
The women’s Factress Techlace is built on the same carbon plate as the men’s, but with a different last that is tighter in the heel and has a little less overall volume.
Boa worked with Giro on developed the Techlace shoes, creating more than a dozen prototypes in the company’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
Cycling global category manager Tony Torrance said that, just like a shoe lace, a Boa lace evens out pressure over the top of the foot. Compared to a ratchet, a Boa dial offers about three times the precision in fit adjustment (a ratchet is typically about 3mm per click) at about half the system weight, Torrance said.
In addition to the 1mm adjustment in either direction, the IP1 also pops open like a quick release for immediate loosening of the top of the shoe.
The Boa L6 dial that comes on the Sentrie and the Raes has 1mm tightening adjustment but not the micro-adjust for loosening; you have to pop it open and retighten to dial in fit.
Both the Boa dials and the laces can be customized for color. Giro hasn’t settled on pricing, but expected the 12 lengths and 6 colors of laces to be about $4. The company will have a chart on the website to help riders select an exact fit. The shoes will only come with the single pair of laces. Four Boa dial colors will be available.
The Factor Techlace will come in three colors: vermillion (bright orange)/black, black and black/white.
The Factor Techlace features a one-piece Teijin microfiber upper, on an Easton EC90 SLX II carbon sole with a SuperNatural footbed with three Velcro-on arch support options.
The Sentrie and Raes get an EC70 sole, a bonded upper and the same SuperNatural footbed. The Sentrie comes in black, white, and bright yellow/black. The Raes will come in black, white and bright pink/black.
In related news, Giro will in April have a series of wide versions (which is calls HV for high volume) that include the Empire and Factor Techlace shoes.