Giro's new Apeckx packs in the same fit and similar features to their upper-end models but with a price and performance level that should land it on the shortlist of anyone looking for a mid-range road shoe. Arch support is minimal, though, and we noticed sole curvature issues with certain pedal systems, too.
Despite being in the cycling footwear market for less than a year, Giro have impressively gotten their last shape nicely zeroed in, with a snug fit through the midsection, an appropriately roomy toe box and admirable heel hold despite the Apeckx's rather simple heel construction. The offset straps and densely padded tongue alleviate pressure well, too, as long as things aren't unreasonably cranked down.
Breathability is very good even in high heat and humidity, with a quality microfiber upper and mesh cutouts – as proven by one BikeRadar tester during the Miami Gran Fondo. An extra bonus is the Aegis-treated antimicrobial treatment on the footbed to reduce odor.
Our only gripe with the fit – and one we share with other Giro shoes – is the minimal arch support. Giro have opted to build the support wholly into the EVA insole but those who need a more solid foundation will find it lacking.
One BikeRadar tester had no issues with the Apeckx's non-adjustable setup but another could only alleviate persistent arch cramps by switching to semi-rigid inserts. Long-term tests of other Giro shoes have shown the EVA foam to pack down over time so what support is present will wane with heavy use, too.
We're extremely impressed with the stiffness of the sole, however. Instead of the Easton carbon fiber found on their higher-end shoes, Giro have opted for a DuPont Zytel nylon plate. This keeps the cost down but sacrifices seemingly little in the performance department thanks to its cleverly molded internal structure. It's definitely not as rigid as better carbon fiber shoes but it isn't far off – to the point where most average riders likely won't even notice.
Giro claim the Zytel material won't soften as much over time as other plastic-soled shoes, either, and our Apeckx testers are also very light. Actual weight for a pair of size 42.5 shoes is just 658g (with insoles) while a pair of 43.5s weighs 618g – easily on par with shoes costing much, much more.
Unfortunately, we did come across one glitch with that otherwise expertly engineered sole. SPD-SL users who tend to mount their cleats far back on the sole may notice a less fluid float on the Apeckx than with other shoes due to the cleat 'wrapping around' a sole curvature that's slightly tighter than it ideally should be.
Thankfully, engagement and release performance was still satisfactory and sliding the cleat further forward lessened the sticky float issue. Another BikeRadar tester who ran Look KéO pedals reported no issues (likely due to that system's smaller cleat). We contacted Giro's director of product creation, Eric Horton, about our issue and he replied with the following explanation:
"We've benchmarked every major pedal and shoemaker in the industry. There are subtle variations in curvature of both cleats and outsoles between manufacturers. Any 'injected' outsole (or cleat, for that matter) from any manufacturer will have minor surface variations compared to carbon/composite style outsoles, which are far more consistent. We strive to be as consistent as possible with our injected parts by specifying how long the parts stay in the tool after the injection process."
"There isn't an industry standard for cleat curvature/outsole curvature," he continued. "There's a range. The Look curve is different from the Shimano curve. It's the reason Speedplay offer two shim pieces to accommodate flatter soles and soles with more curve. Our outsoles are well within tolerance to properly engage/disengage from all major pedal systems."
That all being said, Horton didn't deny our experience, and it's not one that we've widely noticed with other shoes so we have to knock the rating on what is otherwise a very impressive mid-range, high-value shoe down accordingly.